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EMSI Concert 1

Dowland in Dublin: An evening of Lute Songs in an Irish pub!


La Nef (Montreal)
Michael Slattery, tenor (USA)
Saturday, 4 October, 8 pm Pre-concert talk 7:10 pm Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora (at Quadra)

“Dowland, as it turns out, sounds great when suited up, as here he is, in Celtic attire … They achieve a seamless, hand-in-glove result, and while the semper dolens qualities that define Dowland are evident, there’s a new and mitigating sweetness brought to bear. Slattery’s voice is perfectly suited to Dowland.” CBC Music

La Nef has fancifully placed the British composer John Dowland (1563-1626) into a modern Celtic setting by stripping away much of its complexity and letting the beauty of the underlying melodies shine through. Dowland’s usually plaintive music, rooted in the stately pavane and the galliard, has been rearranged by the musicians as if the ensemble were setting out to play an evening’s gig in an Irish pub. The singer is American tenor Michael Slattery, whose high, sweet voice perfectly matches the mood of the music and the Elizabethan instruments brought along by La Nef.

Celebrated during his life for his lute performance and compositions, Dowland is known today mainly for his songs and for the melancholy mood which dominates his musical output. In his settings and choice of titles, however, Dowland reveals another side. On the one hand, he is the man of melancholy, the man who wrote so many weepy works: Lachrimae, Flow my tears, I saw my Lady weep, Go Crystal tears. On the other hand, he is a man of lightness, wit, and satire: My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe, Mistress Winter’s Jump, Mrs. White’s Thing. For this concert, La Nef has chosen to focus on Dowland’s light-hearted side while including some of his more melancholy hits.

The greatest composer of secular music of his age, Dowland wrote and set several songs in praise of his monarch, Elizabeth I. Nevertheless, he was unsuccesssful in obtaining a post in her court. Elizabeth’s tastes in music–she was a composer in her own right and a talented keyboardist–ran towards the religious and ceremonial and her courtly preferences ran to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. So the virtuoso luthenist Dowland travelled Europe, working for a time in the court of Denmark and winning fame as the composer of the greatest international hit of its day, the pavane Lachrimae, which he turned into the song Flow my tears. At last, in 1612, he was engaged as a lutenist in the court of James I, when his compositional career essentially came to an end.

La Nef is a company dedicated to the creation and production of early and contemporary music. It hires musicians and artists in all disciplines according to the needs of its productions. La Nef produces concerts and recitals of early and traditional music that are based on historical and literary themes. In 2001, La Nef broadened its field of action by launching a sector dedicated to contemporary music and to the creation, research, and development of new forms. The company alternates projects that are essentially musical with theatrical projects that involve multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multimedia, and operatic elements.

Since graduating from Juilliard, Michael Slattery has enjoyed an exciting international career. He has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the French National Orchestra in Paris, the Akademie für Alte Musik in Berlin, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. Career highlights include Peter Sellars’ Tristan Project at Lincoln Center, the title role in Bernstein’s Candide at Royal Festival Hall in London, and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Châtelet Theater in Paris, the Staatsoper in Berlin, and at Glimmerglass. His voice has been recorded for film and television and he was recently included in the Spectator’s list of “Heroes of the Concert Hall”. In this concert, he also plays the shruti-box, an instrument whose origin is in early India, where it served as a chanter to accompany religious songs.

Artists
Michael Slattery: tenor, shruti-box
Sylvain Bergeron: lute
Sean Dagher: cittern
Grégoire Jeay: flute, recorder
Amanda Keesmat: cello
Alex Kehler: violin

2014-15 Season

EMSI celebrates its thirtieth anniversary season


To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, the Early Music Society of the Islands will present some of the biggest stars in the field of early music. Musicians from England, France, Germany, Italy, and across North America will perform in Victoria, many of them for the first time.

The theme of the season is Great Composers, with programs devoted to works by Bach, Dowland, Handel, Monteverdi, Mozart, and Vivaldi. The season is anchored by two special events: one is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (December 20th), performed for the first time in Victoria as Bach would have heard it. The other is Handel’s glorious oratorio Theodora (February 15th), a production featuring the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, under the direction of Alexander Weimann.

The season begins on Saturday, October 4th with a fascinatingly conjectural program: could the great John Dowland have been born in Ireland? How would his songs, among the greatest ever written, have sounded had they been performed in a Dublin pub? American tenor Michael Slattery and La Nef (Montreal) make a compelling case for their Celtic versions of Dowland’s compositions. This concert is sure to appeal to all lovers of great singing and folk music, as well as to lovers of renaissance song.

Other concerts feature Pacific MusicWorks (Seattle), directed by Stephen Stubbs, performing madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi, Accademia Hermans (Italy), playing music by Vivaldi and his imitators, Kristian Bezuidenhout (England/South Africa) in a programme devoted entirely to the piano sonatas of Mozart, and tenor Jeffrey Thompson and La Rêveuse (France) performing the music of Henry Lawes. The season wraps up on April 25th, when VocaMe (Germany) performs music by one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the middle ages: Hildegard of Bingen.

Subscription and individual tickets are on sale now from the McPherson Box Office.

Hildegard of Bingen: VocaMe Germany

Saturday, April 25, 2015
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Hildegard of Bingen: Songs and Visions

Mystic, poet, saint, visionary, Doctor of the Church: Hildegard was many things, but perhaps above all she was a composer of inspired music. This internationally acclaimed ensemble transports audiences back to the 12th century and makes it possible to share Hildegard’s ecstasy.

“A rewarding, musical (very) Early Music adventure—a harmoniously unique, deeply spiritual aural experience.” Crescendo

Visit the VocaMe website

10th Annual Pacific Baroque Festival, 6-9 March 2014

Join the many who are planning to refresh their spirits with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach from March 6 to 9! An impressive line-up of musicians will help the Pacific Baroque Festival celebrate its 10th anniversary with a delightful range of music from this baroque master:

  • Canadian soprano Shannon Mercer
    Shannon Mercer’s voice proved as floating as ever.” Le Soleil
  • Victoria-raised Tyler Duncan (baritone)
    Duncan is one of those rare lyric baritones… ideal for singing Bach’s music.” Toronto Star 
  • Organ virtuoso Edoardo Bellotti, one of the world’s leading exponents of baroque improvisation
  • Soile Stratkauskas (baroque flute)
    Ms. Stratkauskas is a formidably talented baroque flautist” Music in Victoria
  • Festival Artistic Director Marc Destrubé (violin)
    Destrubé is a brilliantly soulful player” The Georgia Straight
  • Pacific Baroque Orchestra, early music for modern ears
  • The internationally-acclaimed Victoria Children’s Choir

EMSI Members receive a special discount on their Festival Passes! Seniors/Students can experience all 4 concerts for $65: only $17.50 each concert! Adults: $85: a $15 savings! Please purchase these Passes on-line.

This will be a special occasion for Victoria’s early music lovers.  Learn more by visiting the Pacific Baroque Festival website. This March let J. S. Bach refresh your spirits!

EMSI Has a New Website!

Check out EMSI’s new website, up and running at http://earlymusicsocietyoftheislands.ca/. A completely new look and feel will make your visits more informative and responsive. Some highlights:

  • You can download the season brochure and ticket order form.
  • Most concert listings now include a link to the artists’ pages where audio samples can be played.
  • Each page has an updated bar with links to news and the next few concerts.
  • Did you know there are seven different ways to purchase tickets? They’re all listed and you’ll find a link to the Royal McPherson box office’s ticketing engine.
  • The site works quickly on desktops, laptops and tablets.

The new website has information on:

  • Society membership and support
  • each upcoming concert
  • special events, volunteer and membership activities
  • the EMSI music bursary

Visit the Concerts page and, most important, renew your membership in EMSI for the 2013-14 season.

Do you have a friend who’d like to see this information? Hit one of the Share buttons or pass this message along. Website subscribers like you receive important news and updates about upcoming concerts.

 

French Baroque Opera

Boston Early Music Festival comes to Victoria!

For the first time ever, Victoria audiences will have the opportunity to experience a semi-staged baroque opera, performed in a period style by one of the world’s leading baroque music ensembles.

Close to thirty singers, dancers, and musicians will perform a double bill of operas by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, first played for the Dauphin of France.

It is the most ambitious production in EMSI’s almost thirty-year history.

To ensure the best seats, purchase your tickets early for this special event.

For more information about the opera see the concert page

Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s
La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs
               
Boston Early Music Festival: Vocal, Chamber, and Dance Ensembles (USA)
Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors
Co-presented with Pacific Opera Victoria
“musically intelligent and dramatically affecting” THE BOSTON GLOBE

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2013-14 EMSI Brochure Now Available

Welcome to the launch of the 2013-14 season!

Chamber music, lute, German cantatas, the Polish Baroque, the music of Bach, Handel, and Rossi are offerings in this year’s concert series.

In addition to a wonderful regular season line-up with the biggest names in early music, we look forward to a collaboration with  Pacific Opera Victoria in presenting our first Baroque opera!

Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs is Boston Early Music Festival’s semi-staged double-bill production performed in period style.

For information on purchasing your tickets for this season highlight (gala or regular performances) and our concert series, please visit the Tickets page.

The season  brochure and order form are now available for download.