Christ Church Cathedral
Artists: Nadine Balbeisi, Myriam Leblanc, Jane Long, Ellen Torrie, Lieselot de Wilde, sopranos Liz Hamel, Emma Parkinson, Vicki St-Pierre, Krisztina Szabo, altos with members of Elektra Women’s Choir and the EMV Festival Players, directed. by Alexander Weimann
Festival Players: Chloe Meyers, violin 1, concertmaster; Christi Meyers, violin 2, Matthew Jennejohn, cornetto; Ellen Marple, sackbut; Nathan Wilkes, sackbut; Jeremy Berkman, sackbut; Margaret Little, viola da gamba; Adrienne Hyde, lirone and viola da gamba; Natalie Mackie, violone; Lucas Harris, theorbo; Antoine Malette-Chénier, triple harp; Connor Page, organ & Alexander Weimann, music director, keyboard
During the 17th century, women composers were most often either nuns educated in convents or the daughters of musical families such as Florence’s Caccini clan. The works presented in this concert come from both the secular and sacred worlds of 17th-century Italy, written for celebration in the cloister and private devotion in the home. This music abounds with all the inventiveness, refinement, and energy of the age of Monteverdi.
“Being active in the so called ‘Early Music’ field means to me the never-ending process of learning something new – be it instruments, performance practice, history, styles and genres, but first of all composers which I had no idea about. A fruit of this continuous exploration over many years has been a list of women composers making it to the top of my to-be-performed-asap agenda. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity of this Summer Festival in honour of women, and the sweet occasion to put together a somewhat encyclopedic panorama of female composers in the 1600’s. I chose the form of solemn Vespers for Mary, and all female saints, not unlike Monteverdi’s legendary collection in 1610. This is very much a programme from my heart and I can’t wait to start rehearsals,” Alexander Weimann.
This concert is generously sponsored by Agnes Hohn and Elaine Adair
TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS
Click here to read the texts and translations.
Cari Musici (Myriam Leblanc, soprano)
Bianca Maria Meda (c1665-c1700)
Deus in adiutorium
Claudia Francesca Rusca (1593-1676)
Marieta Morosina Priuli (mid 17th c.)
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-c1678)
Quid pavemus sorores (Vicki St.Pierre, alto)
Maria Xaveria Perucona (c1652-after 1709)
Ego Flos Campi
Raffaella Aleotti (c1570-after 1646)
Corente Secondo (Matthew Jennejohn, cornetto)
Marieta Morosina Priuli
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani
Maria, dolce Maria (Nadine Balbeisi, soprano)
Francesca Caccini (1587-after 1641)
Corrente III (Matthew Jennejohn, recorder)
Marieta Morosina Priuli
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani
Ave stella matutina (Myriam Leblanc, soprano)
Lucrezia Orsina Vizana (1590-1662)
Duo Seraphim (Nadine Balbeisi, Krisztina Szabo, Vicki St.Pierre)
Caterina Assandra (c1590-after 1618)
Corrente Nona (Margaret Little, viola da gamba)
Marieta Morosina Priuli
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani
Pianto di Maria (Krisztina Szabo, mezzo-soprano)
Occhi io vissi di voi
Vattene pur lasciva orecchia
Claudia Sessa (c1570-c1615)
Audita Caeli(Ellen Torrie, Jane Long, sopranos)
Marieta Morosina Priuli
Sulpitia Cesis (early 17th c.)
Maria Francesca Nascimbeni (b. 1658)
Sonata Duodecima à Violino Solo (Chloe Meyers, violin)
Salve Regina (Lieselot De Wilde, soprano)
Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)
Claudia Francesca Rusca
For a woman in 16th- and 17th-century Italy, monastic life was virtually the only socially acceptable option outside of marriage. The convent would have provided her with an education, primarily in domestic skills but also in the arts, including music. Indeed, monastic walls enclosed a rich musical world inhabited by singers, instrumentalists and even composers who created and performed music of the highest quality, despite the veritably draconian restrictions which governed virtually every aspect of their lives.
This was especially true after the Council of Trent (1563) which, in an effort to curb real and perceived transgressions in the convents, established the institution of clausura, or complete and total enclosure: the women within the convent walls were officially unable to leave; they were denied any unauthorized visits even from family members; all communication—both written and spoken—fell under close surveillance; they were no longer to be seen by the outside world. Clausura was virtually synonymous with life-imprisonment. And while some of these young women may have freely chosen the religious life, many others were placed in convents against their will. The practice of forced monasticism, though officially condemned by the church was, in fact, rampant. The principal reason was to protect the family fortunes from having to pay too many dowries, but its injustice was well known, and one of its most eloquent critics was a nun herself, Arcangela Tarabotti, author of numerous tracts with such telling titles as “L’inferno monacale”.
The importance of music to the nuns is thus particularly understandable, for beyond the simple pleasure and solace which it undoubtedly provided, it also represented in a literal sense their “voice” in the outside world. Moreover, the excellent quality of the music heard within female monasteries drew hordes of listeners, making them celebrated “tourist attractions” in northern Italy. In the eyes of the church authorities, however, music represented one of the most impelling dangers to the spiritual well-being of the nuns, and all efforts were made to limit and even forbid its use. To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the reigning ecclesiastical authorities, the use of polyphony was strictly limited to feast days; musical instruments other than the organ, and occasionally the bass viol and harpsichord, were banned; and, perhaps most significantly, musical education from outside teachers was completely prohibited. Similar rules continued to be published throughout the 16th and 17th centuries—an encouraging sign that they were not being adhered to. Indeed, these women continued to make music and a vast repertoire from this period has survived. This program presents a panorama of wonderful works by many women, most of whom lived cloistered lives.
The nuns of the Milanese convent of Santa Radegonda comprised one of the most celebrated ensembles of women musicians in early modern Italy, and several of them also composed. Much of the polyphony was written by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. Born in Milan to a prosperous family, Cozzolani professed her vows in 1620, and later served several times as prioress and abbess. She published four editions of sacred works between 1640 and 1650, unfortunately not all of them extant. It is her large-scale psalm settings that comprises the backbone of this Vespers performance. The psalms chosen here would have been appropriate for a Marian feast or one in honor of a female saint. Thus, a Ladies’ Vespers.
Claudia Sessa, singer and composer at the convent of S. Maria Annunciata, evidently enjoyed considerable fame for her musical talents during her short lifetime. A contemporary description provides a vivid picture of music in the convents:
Claudia Sessa […] played various instruments, and accompanied the sound with such marvelous harmony that there was not a singer who could equal her […] She made herself known for being spirited in the movement of her voice, alert and quick in her trills, full of affects, and mistress of her accenti […] She died young, and at the moment in which she began composing those same musical works which she would have later sung at the feasts […]
Unfortunately, her only extant works are two songs for solo voice found in a collection of poems praising the features of Christ. Her two contributions are dedicated to Christ’s ears and eyes, and display the virtuosic agility and expressiveness for which Sessa was renowned as a singer.
Musical life in Milan was able to flourish in part because of the favorable patronage of archbishop Federigo Borromeo. He strongly believed in the positive role which music played in the spiritual lives of cloistered nuns, and he even made gifts of musical instruments (including violins, which were strongly forbidden by other ecclesiastical authorities). In a letter to him from a nun at S. Caterina in Brera, we read: “There is a nun, and it is she who taught me to sing and play […] This nun knows how to compose, and she has thus composed many motets, and her brothers will have them published […]. The collection in question is the Sacri Concerti a 1-5 voci by Claudia Francesca Rusca. Until quite recently, this collection was thought to be irrevocably lost as a result of the bombing of the Ambrosian Library in 1943, but it is now available. Our Vespers service begins and ends with works for 8 voices in double choirs by Rusca.
These pieces raise a mysterious question surrounding convent music: the works written by and for the nuns often include parts not only for treble voices but also for tenors and basses. This fact unquestionably reflects market demands rather than the musical situation within the convent, for publishers were interested in selling their prints to the largest possible public, including non-cloistered musicians. But how would this music have been performed in the convents?
One solution would have been transposition, especially when the soprano parts are not particularly high. Interestingly, an important treatise with instructions on how to transpose by unusual intervals, Cima’s Partito de’ Ricercari of 1606, was dedicated to one of our composers: Caterina Assandra, at the convent of Sant’Agata in Lomello near Pavia. In Cima’s dedication to her, we read that it was her father’s desire that she be “adorned both by singing and by playing various sorts of instruments”. Her own collection of Motetti a dua, & trè voci, contains two trios heard here. “Duo seraphim,” for 2 sopranos and alto, opens with a beautifully suspended duet reminiscent of Monteverdi’s homonymous motet from his 1610 Vespers (which it predates by one year). “Audite Caeli,” was instead scored for 2 sopranos and bass, and illustrates another common solution to the problem of the lack of male voices: transposing the lower voices (bass, and occasionally tenor) up the octave to be singable by women.
Of course, some women have particularly low voices, and such singers would have been a great asset to a convent ensemble. At S. Vito in Ferrara (a convent to which we will return), the historian Marc’Antonio Guarini wrote in 1621: “There were among these nuns excellent composers, beautiful voices, and rare players, such as a Catabene de’ Catabeni and Cassandra Pigna, good tenors, and Alfonsa Trotti, a singular and amazing bass…”
Another possible substitution for male voices was the use of musical instruments, despite all restrictions forbidding them. A remarkable example was the concerto grande at San Vito in Ferrara, magnificently described as featuring 23 nuns, playing “cornetts, trombones, violins, viole bastarde, double harps, lutes, cornamuse, flutes, harpsichords and voices all at one time”. In later years, the Concert Mistress conducting the ensemble would have been Raphaella Aleotti, the first nun to have published any music. Her collection of Sacrae cantiones appeared in Venice in 1593, the same year as a collection of madrigals by another Aleotti, Vittoria, possibly her sister but more probably the same woman using first her secular and then her monastic name. Aleotti’s two motets included in this program are settings of texts from the beautifully sensual Song of Songs, a popular inspiration for composers both outside and inside the convent walls. Aleotti’s motet “Ego Flos Campi” is a setting of a text from the beautifully sensual Song of Songs, a popular inspiration for composers both outside and inside the convent walls. These women, eternally married to Christ, evidently identified strongly with the florid and passionate imagery of the bride and the beloved.
The evidence for the use of instruments in the convents is extensive. Sulpitia Cesis, a nun at the convent of S. Geminiano in Modena, specifically mentions instruments not readily associated with an ensemble of cloistered nuns: cornett, trombone, violone and arciviolone. The nuns themselves also wrote pieces calling for instruments, and a stunning example is Bianca Maria Meda’s florid motet for soprano and two violins, “Cari musici,” with a clear reference to music.
Whether because of external obstacles, prohibitive expense, or other circumstances, it was not uncommon for nun composers to see only a single collection in print. This is the unfortunate case with at least three gifted composers, Lucretia Orsina Vizzana. Maria Xaveria Peruchona and Maria Francesca Nascimbeni, whose only works appeared when they were 33, 23 and 16 (!) years of age, respectively.
An exception to this rule is Isabella Leonarda, the most prolific of all women composers in the 17th century. Leonarda published no fewer than 20 collections of sacred music, nearly 200 compositions spanning virtually every genre of her time. Her volume of sonatas for 1 and 2 violins is the only one by a woman in the 17th century. Our program features her sonata for solo violin, the opening phrase of which is reminiscent of a poignant lament by one of the most important women composers of the period: Barbara Strozzi (discussed below).
A woman born into an artistic family might aspire to a musical career outside the convents. This was the case of Francesca Caccini, daughter of the renowned Florentine composer, Giulio Caccini. Trained by her father in composition, as well as singing, lute, harpsichord, guitar and poetry in Latin and Tuscan, she published a book of solo arias and duets in 1618. She continued to write many large-scale entertainments for the Medici court, all of which have been lost with the exception of her opera, “La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina,” the first composed by a woman in Italy.
A generation later in Venice, Barbara Strozzi made a name for herself (in more than one sense) as a singer and composer, closely associated with the Accademia degli Incogniti whose members included her adopted (and probably biological) father, the poet, Giulio Strozzi. Barbara published eight volumes of vocal music, making her one of the most prolific composers of secular music of her day. A motet from her sole collection of sacred monodies is included here.
Women born into the noble classes might enjoy greater artistic freedom as composers. The Venetian noblewoman Marieta Morosina Priuli wrote 2 small volumes of Balletti and Correnti for violins and spinet, both published in 1665, thus earning her the distinction of being the first Italian woman to publish a collection of instrumental works.
This enormous wealth of music by women ends with the simplest of compositions: a canon for three voices by Isabella Leonarda which she offers up to Mother Mary, as a “token of love”: un pegno d’amore.
- Candace Smith
Nadine Balbeisi, soprano
The American/Jordanian Soprano, Nadine Balbeisi launched her international solo career when she moved to Germany, singing Oratorio, Chamber music, Opera and Recitals. Her repertoire extends from the 14th through the 18th Centuries. She has performed with various ensembles and orchestras such as Atalante, Concerto con anima, Neue Düsseldorfer Hofmusik, and Solamente Naturali, and sings medieval repertoire regularly with the women’s Schola Ars Choralis Coeln.
Nadine founded the duo Cantar alla Viola together with viola da gambist Fernando Marín, dedicating the past 19 years to research, interpretation and rediscovering the musical practice of singing with a viol. Their album of Italian Renaissance music, Segreti Accenti, was nominated for the International Classical Music Awards.
She received a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan, studying with George Shirley and obtained a second degree from the Hochschule für Musik Köln with Barbara Schlick. In 2022 and 2023 the German Music Council – Deutscher Musikrat Neustart Kultur awarded her two grants for projects on 17th Century Italian music and women composers.
Myriam Leblanc, soprano
A graduate of McGill University, Myriam Leblanc obtained a master’s degree in choral conducting direction from the University of Sherbrooke. She was a First Prize winner and People’s choice Award winner at the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières Competition, a Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique in 2014 (Prix Québec-Bavière), Audience Choice Award winner at the Canadian Opera Company Centre Stage Competition, Third Prize winner at the Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries contest, holder of the Excellence grant given annually by l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, First Prize winner in the Mathieu-Duguay Early Music Competition at the 2017 Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival. She has been working in the world of music for few years. Leblanc is recognized for the purity of her tone, a flexible and warm voice and her mastery of both technique and musical expressiveness.
In 2016, she made her debut with the Opéra de Montréal in the role of the High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida. La Presse music critic Caroline Rodgers described her voice as one of “rare beauty”. Her more recent performances (2017-2018) include Milica in Sokolovic’s Svadba with Opéra de Montréal, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen with Opéra de Québec and concerts with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kent Nagano, Matthias Maute and Jonathan Cohen. In 2018-2019, she sang a Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the soprano solos on Handel’s Messiah with Ensemble Caprice, the Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.2 “Lobgesang” with l’Orchestre Metropolitain under Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s direction. Recently, she was a soloist with Les Violons du Roy under Jonathan Cohen’s direction.
Jane Long, soprano
Hailed as a “standout” performer with “pure” and “ethereal” sound (South Florida Classical Review), Jane Long is a “clear, agile soprano” (The Georgia Straight). Vancouver, Canada, native Jane Long performs as a chamber singer, concert soloist, and recitalist. As a soloist, Jane has recently performed with the Victoria Symphony, Pacific Musicworks in Seattle, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Re:Naissance Opera, Victoria Baroque Players, chamber recitals with the St Augustine series (Vancouver), and recitals with Juno nominated pianist, Jane Coop.
Jane has had the honor of studying with renowned musicians including Emma Kirkby, Andreas Scholl, Richard Egarr, and Ellen Hargis. Some of her highlights include a staged performance of 17thCentury Italian song with Stephen Stubbs and Pacific Musicworks, a cross Canada tour of an innovative new and early music program with Arkora music collective, and performances as a soprano soloist in Early Music Vancouver’s all-women tour of Vivaldi Gloria and Magnificat, led by Monica Huggett. She sings with ensembles such as Seraphic Fire (Miami, Florida), True Concord (Tucson, Arizona), Spire (Kansas City, Missouri), Arkora (Vancouver and Toronto) and Vancouver Chamber Choir as an ensemble singer. Jane received her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of British Columbia and her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England. She now works as a free-lance artist and lives in Washington State with her husband and three young children.
Ellen Torrie, soprano
Ellen Torrie is an Ontario-born, soprano and project maker living in Montreal who just completed a master’s degree in early music performance at McGill University under the tutelage of Dominique Labelle. Most recently, Ellen sang the title role in Charpentier’s oratorio Judith with ensemble Capella Antica and is lead soprano at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal.
While studying music therapy at Acadia University, Ellen appeared frequently as a soloist with local ensembles including Symphony Nova Scotia, and was lead soprano of the Manning Chapel Choir from 2014-2018. In 2017, Ellen was awarded the Canadian Federation of University Women scholarship which funded their participation in Accademia Europea Dell’Opera in Lucca, Italy, where they played Oberto in Handel’s Alcina. This experience motivated Ellen to pursue a career in performance and upon graduation, Ellen moved to Montreal to study with soprano Suzie LeBlanc.
Ellen frequently returns to the Maritimes for solo recitals, collaborations, and residencies. Ellen also recently completed an artist residency at Banff Arts and Creativity Centre with Canadian tenor Kerry Bursey, as the newly formed early music/folk duo Kalliope. Ellen is currently exploring the practice of self-accompanying early music on baroque guitar. As a queer, non-binary musician, Ellen is inspired by the possibility that their queer ancestors had their own musical traditions and that through research, creative speculation, and performance, we can tell a more inclusive and rich story about music and humanity.
Lieselot de Wilde, soprano
Lieselot is a Belgian singer, actress and creative artist. She sings with Ensemble Correspondances, Servir Antico, Hathor Consort, Imago Mundi, Zefiro Torna, Apotheosis, Ratas del Viejo Mundo and performed in operas by Ben Frost and Philip Glass. She performs in creations by Belgian companies Zonzo and LOD and tours with them all over Europe and Canada. Additionally, she works on her own transdisciplinary projects. Her ensemble Bel Ayre, together with Jazz guitarist Peter Verhelst, is a collaboration of musicians with different musical backgrounds. She produces the online project Around The World in 72 songs. She is also working on the project Figurines, a series of artwork and performances that talks about artistry and the human condition from a female perspective. Lieselot graduated at Lemmensinstituut Leuven, studied afterwards with Jard Van Nes and participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy, directed by Sir Simon Rattle.
Liz Hamel, alto
Liz Hamel loves to sing and is grateful to have a varied career in music. Liz has appeared with Vancouver New Music, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Burney Ensemble, Standing Wave, Kawasha’s Krew (Elizabeth Liddle), La Cetra (Ray Nurse), Elektra Women’s Choir, and Early Music Vancouver. She has been member of Accentus Chamber Choir (Paris), the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and musica intima. Liz has performed as a recorder player with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Burney ensemble, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and Festival Vancouver. Ms. Hamel is active as a recorder coach and was a long-time faculty member of the Vancouver Early Music Summer Programme and the WCAMS summer camp. She has worked as a recording producer for musica intima (two Juno nominations and a Western Canada Music Award), Elektra, the Burney Ensemble, Mark Takashi MacGregor, and Paolo Bortelussi. Liz holds a B.N. (Dalhousie), B. Mus. (UBC) and an M.A. and M.Div. (Vancouver School of Theology). She is an Anglican priest and lives in Vancouver with her husband Keith.
Vicki St. Pierre, alto
Contralto Vicki St. Pierre’s voice “invitingly combines clarity of expression and beauty of tone,” and is described as “rich with both a darkness and brightness.” As a specialist in early music, she has performed internationally with such groups as the Academy of Ancient Music, Tafelmusik, Les Violons du Roy, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Sacabuche, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. She has also performed with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared on the operatic stage with Opera Atelier, Ensemble Masques de Montreal, Toronto Masque Theatre, and Early Music Vancouver, among others. She has directed choirs across Canada and in the UK, and has been an assistant conductor with Opera Atelier. Vicki has a doctorate in vocal performance from the University of Toronto, and has been a faculty member at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB since
2015. In 2020, Dr. St. Pierre was appointed Interim Dean of Arts, and in early 2021, she was offered the position of Dean of Arts for a 5-year term.
Emma Parkinson, alto
Chinese-Canadian mezzo-soprano Emma Parkinson has performed across Canada and internationally, she has been hailed as "an outstanding voice" (La Scena Musicale). This season, Emma performed in the world premiere of Chinatown with City Opera Vancouver, and in the Canadian premiere of Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone with re:Naissance Opera and Sound the Alarm Music Theatre. Past seasons have seen Emma perform with Vancouver Opera as Jade Boucher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, and with Pacific Opera Victoria in the Canadian premiere of Rattenbury. Emma has appeared with Burnaby Lyric Opera in the title role of Carmen, and, as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. As an alumnus of the Atelier lyrique of Opéra de Montréal, she performed Orlofsky in Opéra de Montréal’s production of Die Fledermaus. In Europe, Emma debuted with Seefestspiele Berlin as Mercédès in Carmen, and performed a concert with Les Chorégies d’Orange in France. Her concert highlights include soloist appearances with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Vancouver Bach Choir, Kingston Symphony Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre Métropolitain, under the baton of Yannick Nézét-Seguin. Emma was honoured to perform as a special guest soloist for Ballet BC’s 35th Anniversary Gala.
Krisztina Szabó, alto
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is highly sought after in North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft. She is known for her promotion and performance of contemporary Canadian works. Among her many laudatory reviews, Opera Canada declared her to be an “exceptional talent” after her performance of the title role of Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. After a performance with Tapestry Opera, the music blog, Schmopera wrote that “her instrument is one-of-a-kind and she has cemented herself as a darling of Canadian experimental music and opera…her sensibility and sensitivity to the material is truly inspiring”. In her hometown of Toronto, she has been nominated twice for a Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance. Krisztina has recently been appointed Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at the University of British Columbia School of Music.
Members of Elektra Women’s Choir
Elektra Women’s Choir from Vancouver, Canada has been a leader among women’s choirs since 1987. Under the direction of Artistic Director, Morna Edmundson, the choir is known for its adventurous programming and performance excellence. Elektra delivers its mandate through a highly-acclaimed concert series featuring outstanding guest artists. The choir is a leader in repertoire development, performing worthy music from the past and new works. Elektra has commissioned and premiered over 100 compositions and arrangements in its first three decades. Elektra delivers its mandate through a highly-acclaimed concert series featuring outstanding guest artists. The choir is a leader in repertoire development, performing worthy music from the past and new works. In its first three decades, Elektra has commissioned and premiered over 100 compositions and arrangements. Elektra’s 17th digital CD, Fire Flowers, was released in August 2020.
Elektra’s website offers a permanent repertoire resource featuring all works programmed by the choir to date and highlighting the breadth of its work with Canadian composers and arrangers. A multiple national prize-winning ensemble, Elektra Women’s Choir has been honoured to perform at conferences of Choral Canada, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the International Society for Music Education and the International Federation for Choral Music, where it appeared at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Sydney (1996) and Barcelona (2017). Its celebrated Community Engagement programs encourage, train, and mentor the next generation of youth and adults: singers, conductors, and composers. Elektra has been honoured to perform at major conferences of choral professionals worldwide.
Alexander Weimann, music director
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After travelling the world with ensembles such as Tragicomedia, Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as Music Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, Music Director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and regular guest conductor of ensembles including the Victoria Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Alex was born in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, mediæval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships. From 1990 to 1995, he taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö, the Bremen Musikhochschule, the University of California (Berkeley), Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison (New Brunswick). He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there. He has received several JUNO and GRAMMY Award nominations – most recently, for the album Nuit Blanches with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Karina Gauvin.