The Vancouver Bach Festival will explore how traditional Scottish music influenced Baroque masters
21st-century music lovers don’t usually make the connection between Scottish fiddle and jigs and great Baroque composers like Johann Sebastian Bach or Antonio Vivaldi.
It’s a heretical thought for those who associate classical music with grand concert halls and bandleaders in tuxedos.
But in fact, some fashionable Baroque composers of the 17th and 18th centuries rubbed shoulders with these fiddlers from Scotland. And it left a lasting influence on Baroque, a complex style of music that includes a harmonic language and requires far more instruments than Scottish folksongs.
Suzie LeBlanc, a much-loved soprano and artistic and executive director of Early Music Vancouver, says Right over the phone that fiddle music and Scottish jigs actually inspired several Italian Baroque composers, including Francesco Geminiani.
In addition, these fiddlers had an impact on the German Georg Philipp Telemann and the Frenchman George Muffat, who was of Scottish descent on his father’s side.
“They were just immersed in it,” LeBlanc says. “So the ties are very, very close. It’s great fun to look at baroque music through this lens.
Early Music Vancouver will do just that at this year’s Vancouver Bach Festival, which runs from July 26 to August 6. By examining Scottish Baroque and other traditions, this year’s festival breaks new ground.
It is also an acknowledgment that the “old wig”, as Bach was called, employed musicians who often played in taverns.
“It’s historically very good to talk about it,” LeBlanc says. “It can change the way people approach a composer like Bach, for example.
“Most of Bach’s music consists of dances,” she continues. “And where do these dances come from? They are into traditional music.
Early Music Vancouver has two artists in residence who will reinforce this year’s theme at several Vancouver Bach Festival concerts
One of them, the Scottish keyboardist and lecturer at the University of Glasgow, David McGuinness, is a specialist in Scottish musical traditions.
The other artist-in-residence, Baroque fiddler and Cape Breton fiddler David Greenberg, is well suited to interpret Scotland’s connection to Baroque music that first emerged in Italy and spread across the country. ‘Europe. In the 1990s, he mixed Scottish, Cape Breton and Baroque music in three recordings with Puirt A Baroque.
LeBlanc says the two Davids haven’t played together since the pandemic began. According to her, they are looking forward to the festival’s opening night concert, Ebb and Flow, at the Chan Center for the Performing Arts on July 27.
“These are musicians who know what we call HIP — historically informed practice — of Baroque music,” says LeBlanc.
They will join the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Weimann, in a celebration of water. Together they will play George Frideric Handel water musicby Telemann Ebb’ and Fluth burgerand Alasdair MacLean’s Silky water weaves and weaves.
LeBlanc says this show will also feature Vancouver Poet Laureate Fiona T. Lam delivering verses that will be interspersed with improvisations by Greenberg.
“It’s all about the importance of water to human beings…something we cherish and care for on our planet,” says LeBlanc. “There are a lot of beautiful messages there.”
This year, Early Music Vancouver also invited soprano Ellen Torrie and violinist Marie Nadeau-Tremblay to be the first members of its Emerging Artists Program. On August 3, they will perform in Pyatt Hall at the VSO School of Music with theorbist Sylvain Bergerson in a show called The Next Generation: Baroque Innovations.
LeBlanc, who taught at McGill University until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, was impressed by the number of young singers who also master popular instruments from the early music period, such as the lute. and the harp.
“Ellen Torrie has learned to play baroque guitar and will accompany herself,” adds LeBlanc.
Another young music star, British Columbia fiddler and Juilliard School graduate Chloe Kim, will perform with Tremblay and last year’s Early Vancouver Music artist-in-residence, baritone Jonathon Adams, in a show called Out of the Deep on August 4 at Christ Church Cathedral. They will be joined by Margaret Little on viola da gamba, Lucas Harris on theorbo and Avi Stein on keyboard.
Kim will return to Christ Church Cathedral the following evening for Bach: four sonatas and a concerto, again with Stein on keyboard and Christina Mahler on cello.
LeBlanc is also looking forward to several more concerts, including the Arkora Ensemble’s exploration of the connections between new Canadian works and old works by Hildegard von Bingen at Christ Church Cathedral on July 28. The group will be joined by Lan Tung on erhu.
One of the world’s greatest horn players, Pierre-Antoine Tremblay, who will join Weimann in a concert called The Last Rose of Summer at Christ Church Cathedral on July 29.
Another highlight of the festival will be Contrasto Armonico’s concert, titled The Nations, at Christ Church Cathedral on July 29. He became musical director of Denman Baroque in 2017.
Vitale is also one of four harpsichordists – along with Weimann, McGuinness and Christina Hutten – who will be at the Chan Center for the Performing Arts on August 5 with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra for the revered Bach. Concerto for four harpsichords in A minor. It was a revamp of Vivaldi Concerto for four violins and strings. Greenberg and Chloe Myers will be on violin.
This concert will feature four old French harpsichords of the same brand created by Craig Tomlinson of West Vancouver. LeBlanc points out that there are only four of these instruments in Vancouver and they will be performing together.
“A lot of people have performed Bach’s harpsichord concerto for four harpsichords,” acknowledges the artistic and executive director of Early Music Vancouver. “But I’m not sure they did it on identical instruments. So it’s gonna be really fun. You will hear the character of each within a family.
Fans of LeBlanc’s work as a soprano won’t be disappointed either. With Tremblay, Bergerson and recorder player Vincent Lauzer, she will mix Acadian folk songs with court airs of the French court of Louis XIV during a concert on August 2 at Christ Church Cathedral.
LeBlanc says she and the musicians were already going to perform this concert at another festival in July.
“They said ‘Can we do this in Vancouver?’ I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it!’ ”