The Grandeur Of the Big - The Charm Of The SmallThursday, December 25, 2014
On October 27, 1996 my wife and two daughters and I went to Ryerson United to a concert given by the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Electra Women’s Choir. They performed Vivaldi’s Gloria in D major RV 589.
Since then I have witnessed many Bach Passions, Handel operas, Monteverdi Operas and all of the Bach Cantata Projects through the years brought to us by Early Music Vancouver.
|Doctor Stephen Drance at left|
One would have to live in sunny Guadalajara, Mexico, Buenos Aires or even Langley (if one were unwilling to drive to Vancouver for these concerts) to eventually stop taking for granted that we are blessed in Vancouver to have such an active early music scene, new music scene (particularly that of the Turning Point Ensemble), opera and the symphonic contributions of the Vancouver Symphony. Yes we are blessed.
Sometimes, even though I do not live in sunny Guadalajara, I find myself taking for granted these big extravaganzas at the Chan Centre. But Sunday the 21st Early Music Vancouver production (with contributions from the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Pacific Musicworks, all combined as A Northwest Baroque Masterworks Project) made me realize that I have to pinch myself and realize my luck. I was reminded when EMV Artistic Director spoke out of the past contributions of Former Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra , Marc Destrubé, to the ongoing Bach Christmas Cantata Project. I would have added the name of lute player and instrument maker Ray Nurse.
I remember the early versions of the Cantata Project held at the UBC Chapel by the UBC Golf Club. The acoustics were so deadening that Nurse’s group, La Cetra installed a temporary plywood floor at the altar space where they played.
What I am attempting to write is that in Vancouver we get the big productions but also the small and intimate ones. Early Music Vancouver’s Dowland In Dublin. was set in something that resembled a cabaret. It was excellent. I like this balance. It is also nice to see members of the Bach Christmas Oratorio play in small groups like Arthur Neele's Stile Moderno or those fine and even more intimate little concerts featuring violinist Paul Luchkow and multi-keyboardist Michael Jarvis.
We are lucky that we now have the north-to-south musical axis that is Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland. But at the same time we might be made aware that is far cheaper for Americans to play in our neck of the woods than vice versa. Those Americans, in a rotten spirit of the value of cultural exchange make visas to play in the US expensive.
The Bach Christmas Oratorio (Cantatas 1,3,6) after performances, in Portland, Mercer Island, Seattle and Victoria came all together for us in Vancouver. To tour a big ensemble in few days is a grueling piece of work. As one of the solo singers told me, “We are going to do some drinking after tonight’s last performance.
I was lucky to be sitting very close to Doctor Stephen Drance and his wife. This man has been a tireless contributor in cash and organizational skills to make Early Music Vancouver be the institution that it is today.
Seats sold so quickly that Rosemary and my friend designer Graham Walker were not able to sit front row centre. When we sit there our noses are at the same height as the Chan stage. For a while I have been writing about Walker’s shoe fetish. From our front row centre we get a special view of shoes. Alas we were on the side. But…
I will now diverge from saying how wonderful it was to see Director Stephen Stubbs direct and play the harpsichord standing up (Alexander Weimann,Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra also has this rare talent). Stubbs could have upped the ante by also playing his very large and long lute.
I will diverge from all that to state that from my vantage point as I watched the stage I could see some lips of extreme redness sock it to my eyes. The perfectly red lips were property of West Virginian-born, recently to Seattle via Oberlin, baroque cellist Juliana Soltis. During the interval I watched her on the wings. She was wearing a remarkable black taffeta dress and sported an extremely short haircut.Her dress was very long and hid her shoes. It seems one of the violinists did see them and had warned me to watch out for them. The violinist told me, “Her shoes somehow match the exquisite blue cello cover.”