Standing in the blustery cold of Toronto, Rebecca Genge looks forward to West Coast weather when she comes home – where she was inspired to sing.
“There’s certainly snow falling from the sky,” she says with a laugh during a phone interview last week.
The 2009 grad of Oak Bay High returns to Victoria as the featured soloist in Why should the Devil have all the good tunes? in a special concert of Pacific Baroque Festival 2016.
“The choral program at Oak Bay High was extremely influential for me,” says Genge, who was heavily involved in “about three choirs” in the program under the leadership of Sally Murphy. “She is one of the reasons I had confidence to pursue singing in post secondary.”
Now working on her master’s degree at the University of Toronto, Genge is recognized as one of the emerging soprano talents in Canada. She’s returned to balmy Victoria for several summers to participate in workshops at the Victoria Conservatory of Music where she previously completed a two-year diploma.
“I’m particularly interested in baroque music and one of the reasons I did the diploma at the (Victoria) Conservatory is Nancy Argenta. She’s one of the best people you could study with if you want to be a baroque soprano. There wasn’t any reason to leave.”
There was plenty of performance opportunity in Victoria, as a choral scholar at St. John the Divine and with the St. Christopher’s Singers, even before that she participated in the Pacific Baroque Festival in youth choirs.
“It’s a long-running thing so coming back as a soloist from Toronto this year is exciting,” she says.
“(Baroque is) something I’ve always been really drawn to,” she adds. That seed took root at age 12 when Genge got her hands on an Dame Emma Kirkby CD. She constantly forced her parents to listen to the famed English soprano on every car ride. This year she earned the opportunity to perform with Kirkby.
“It was a huge dream come true,” Genge says.
Genge will be joined in the Christ Church Cathedral concert by a small ensemble of some of Canada’s most respected baroque musicians: Marc Destrubé and Linda Melsted (baroque violins), Natalie Mackie (viola da gamba) and Michael Jarvis (harpsichord). Destrubé returns to the city where he grew up, and Jarvis recently settled in Victoria.
Genge hopes the program of composers that came before Johann Sebastian Bach will inspire listeners, as they likely inspired Bach himself.
Music includes Dietrich Becker (1623 – 1679); Sonata and Suite in D Major; from Zwey-stimmiger Sonaten und Suiten (Hamburg, 1674); Johann Krieger (1649 – 1725); Abend-Andacht; Sonata Quinta a doi (G major); Herr, auf dich trau ich (1697); Christoph Bernhard (1628 – 1692); Aus der Tiefen, from Geistliche Harmonien, Op.1 (1665); Dietrich Buxtehude (ca. 1637 – 1707); Trio Op. 2, No. 3 g minor; Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BuxWV 98; Philipp Heinrich Erlebach (1657 – 1714); Sonata Seconda (1694); and two songs from Harmonische Freude musicalischer Freunde (1697).
“I really love them all,” she said. “It’s a great thing for people to hear. all these composers get overshadowed by Bach. A lot of people who predate him don’t really get played. It’s great to hear what wonderful composers they are, and without them we wouldn’t have Bach as he is.”
“Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” is on stage Thursday, Jan. 28 at Christ Church Cathedral. A Jan. 29 performance is slated for Metchosin and Jan. 30 at Knox United Church in Parksville.
The concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $25/$20 and available in Oak Bay at Ivy’s Book Shop or at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and the Christ Church Cathedral office on Burdett Street. Buy tickets online at pacbaroque.com or by phone at 250-386-5311.