Christ Church Cathedral
This concert showcases the music of 18th-century female composers who, though forgotten or ignored by history, in their day shared the stage with and enjoyed the respect and friendship of composers we now regard as musical giants, including Haydn and Mozart. Like their male colleagues, these women were highly acclaimed both as composers and as performing musicians. They include the noted pianist and sought-after teacher Maria Hester Park; the star singer and playwright Amélie-Julie Candeille; the stateswoman, keyboard player, and opera composer Maria Antonia, Electress of Saxony; the master violinist Maddalena Laura Sirmen, who was trained at one of Venice’s famous musical orphanages; and the virtuoso singer and pianist Marianne Anna Katharina von Martinez, a frequent duet partner of Mozart’s, an influence on his compositional style, and a member of the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna. Their music is brimming with the elegance and eloquence of the Classical era.
This concert is generously supported by Dorothy Jantzen
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Marianne Anna Katharina von Martinez (1744 – 1812)
Sinfonia in C-major 12’
Amélie-Julie Candeille (1767 – 1834)
Keyboard concerto in D-major 18’
Maria Antonia Walpurgis (1724 – 1780)
Ouverture to “Trionfo della Fedeltà” 7’
Maria Hester Park (1760 – 1813)
Divertimento in D (violin, keyboard) 7’
Maddalena Laura Sirmen (1745 – 1818)
Violin concerto A-major, op. 3/3
Online Version – Purchase Tickets and HOW TO WATCH:
Online: Streaming by fee for $25 starting Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at 7:30 PM.
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This program presents music by five women at the centre of European musical life during the late eighteenth century, appearing on opera and concert stages, associated with eminent educational institutions as pupils and teachers, fostering courtly music as patrons and performers and offers hospitality and cultural enrichment as salonnières.
Several of these women participated in their family business of music-making, trained by their fathers or other relatives, much as Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart was. Cecilia Maria Barthélemon (1767-1859), for instance, was the daughter of singer-actor Maria Barthélemon and François-Hippolyte Barthélemon, the leader of the orchestra of the King’s Theatre in London. As a ten-year-old child, she toured Europe with her parents, singing for the King of Naples and for Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. She must also have been a gifted keyboard player for she published several solo and chamber sonatas, one of which she dedicated to Joseph Haydn, a family friend who undoubtedly enjoyed her dramatic flair and musical wit.
The opera stage was one of the first places where female musicians were permitted to perform publicly. Musicologist Judith Tick, a pioneer in the study of women and music, notes that professional singing gave women “a rhetorical authority, a previously unknown power to move and seduce audiences.” Like Barthélemon, Julie Candeille (1767-1834) was trained by her father and presented to the public as a child prodigy. By age 14, she was engaged by the Paris Opéra as a singer and a year later sang the title role in one of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s operas. As a young adult, she began writing theatrical music, and her semi-autobiographical comedy Catherine, ou La belle fermière (1792) for which she wrote the libretto, the music, and sang the title role was an outstanding success, performed over 150 times in the 35 years after it premièred. Also a formidable pianist, Candeille debuted on the Concert Spirituel concert series at the age of 17. Her performance of a concerto by Muzio Clementi was such a success that she was invited to return less than a year later to perform one of her own. Candeille actively supported other women musicians. In her later years, she taught piano and found the time to write and publish several novels.
Maddalena Laura Sirmen received her musical education at one of Venice’s four Ospedale, schools for orphaned girls famous for their music education. The daughter of an impoverished aristocratic family apparently without musical background, she was accepted into the ensemble of the Ospedale on account of her outstanding musical aptitude. Although the lives of the pupils were carefully controlled – girls were permitted to leave only to marry – Maddalena Laura was sent to Padua to study with violin virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini. Before their first lesson, Tartini wrote her a detailed letter explaining how to progress in the study of the violin. The letter appeared in print almost immediately in Italian and in an English translation by music historian Charles Burney as “An Important Lesson to Performers on the Violin.” Eventually, Maddalena Laura married violinist Lodovico Sirmen. Some have speculated that theirs was a marriage of convenience because after initially touring Europe together, Lodovico settled in Italy, while his wife continued to tour widely as a concert violinist and to publish chamber music and violin concertos. Leopold Mozart heard one of her concertos and was so struck by its beauty that he wrote to his son Wolfgang about it.
In the eighteenth century, music was central to the culture of many European courts and musical proficiency was considered a sign of virtue and was consequently an important element of the education of princes and princesses. Maria Antonia Walpurgis, daughter of the Elector of Bavaria, received a musical education from her father’s court musicians and continued her studies in Dresden with renowned opera composers Nicola Porpora and Johann Adolph Hasse after her marriage to Friedrich Christian, Prince of Saxony. She performed at court as a singer and a keyboard player patronized the rich cultural life of the court, and composed the texts and music of two operas, which were published and translated into several languages. The overture to her opera Il trionfo della fedeltà is on this program.
Salons, gatherings of intellectual and artistic elite held in the reception room of a large home and hosted by prominent high society women, bridged private and public spheres. In a society where women were forbidden to participate in orchestras and where professional public performance was considered the labour of the lower classes, the semi-private salon allowed upper-class women like Marianne von Martínez to perform for an audience, sell their compositions, and attract students. Martínez inherited a substantial fortune from her tutor Pietro Metastasio, celebrated opera librettist and poet laureate of the imperial court in Vienna. Metastasio so esteemed his pupil that he also gave her his harpsichord and his music library. He was not the only one who held her in high regard. While still in her twenties, she became an honorary member of the Bologna Accademia Filarmonica, a prestigious institution of music education whose members included Arcangelo Corelli, Mozart, J.C. Bach, and later Rossini, Verdi, and many others. Martinez hosted regular musical soirées at which Haydn and Mozart were frequent guests and opened an excellent singing school in her house.
Highly esteemed in their day, the names and compositions of these women were all but forgotten by music history. In the nineteenth century, “women’s music” became a pejorative term synonymous with “tinkering” and the creative abilities of women were largely rejected. For instance, while women could study performance at many European conservatories, they were barred from studying composition. Music historian Emil Naumann went so far as to assert that “all creative work in music is well-known as being exclusive work of men” in his widely circulated and translated Musikgeschichte (1880). However, thanks to the work of scholars of women’s studies, the increasing digital availability of historical music prints and manuscripts, and the sharing power of recorded media, the musical voices of these eighteenth-century women can communicate with many today.
- Christina Hutten
Pacific Baroque Orchestra
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears”. PBO brings the music of the past up to date by performing with cutting-edge style and enthusiasm. Formed in 1990, the orchestra quickly established itself as a force in Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene with the ongoing support of Early Music Vancouver.
In 2009, PBO welcomed Alexander Weimann as Artistic Director. His imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers, and his creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
PBO regularly joins forces with internationally celebrated Canadian guest artists, providing performance opportunities for Canadian musicians while exposing West Coast audiences to a spectacular variety of talent. The Orchestra has also toured BC, the northern United States and across Canada. Their 2019 East Coast Canadian tour with Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin showcased the rarely-heard opera arias of 18th century Russia, culminating in a critically acclaimed album “Nuit Blanches” released by Atma Classique. The musicians of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra have been at the core of many large-scale productions by Early Music Vancouver in recent years, including many summer festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.
Alexander Weimann, Dir.
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with 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.
Weimann was born in 1965 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, Weimann 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 and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and at North American universities such as The University of California in Berkeley, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007, he has conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there.
A multiple JUNO and GRAMMY nominee, Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. Highlights include an Opus and JUNO award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with soprano Karina Gauvin, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion with Les Voix Baroques/Arion Baroque Orchestra, a JUNO nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award, and most recently, the JUNO-nominated album Nuit Blanches with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Karina Gauvin.