The Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble, led by music director Marc Destrubé (lower left), performs at the 2019 festival in Alix Goolden Hall. Photo courtesy Pacific Baroque Festival

Pacific Baroque Festival highlights a new direction in early classical music

Festival focus on the Galant style will feature lesser-known pieces from the 1700s

The 16th annual Pacific Baroque Festival returns to local venues with five spectacular concerts March 5-8.

Festival artistic director Marc Destrube, a Victoria native and international violin star, took time from his current work in Amsterdam to describe this year’s festival focus on the Galant Style, a popular form between 1720 and 1770.

“The course of music history is marked by reactionary movements, when composers rejected previous forms and styles and struck out in new directions,” he explained. “The ‘Galant Style’ was one such reaction, rejecting the formal and complex structures of the high baroque (as exemplified by the music of J.S. Bach) in favour of simpler, more direct forms and clear melodies. Composers across Europe (most notably Bach’s second son, Carl Phillip Emmanuel) embraced this new style and set the stage for the Classical era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.”

Destrube emphasized the festival’s motto, ‘music that deserves to be heard,’ in describing this year’s offering of lesser-known gifted composers including Baldassarra Galuppi, Nicola Porpora, Carl Abel and Johan Krebs.

“The arrival of the Internet and YouTube and the political changes in Europe of the past few decades have given us access to a wealth of hitherto unknown or unfamiliar music,” Destrube said, “with the result that musicians and audiences are feasting on a treasure trove of wonderful repertoire outside the ‘canon’ of the Great Composers.”

This year’s festival kicks off with Fashionably Late on Thursday, March 5 at 11 a.m. at Alix Goolden Hall. It’s a playful tribute subtitled Morning at London’s Bach-Abel Concerts, England’s first subscription concerts from 1765-82. It features Paul Luchkow on baroque violin, Sam Stadlen on viola de gamba and Michael Jarvis on harpsichord.

That evening at Christ Church Cathedral, Galant and Elegant showcases Lorenzo Chielmi, one of Europe’s leading musicians, playing a repertoire bridging baroque and Galant styles on the Cathedral organ.

In what promises to be one of the festival’s highlights, Destrube joins Dutch masters Wilbert Hazelzet, Jaap ter Linden and Jacque Ogg performing chamber music of the mid-18th century on period instruments, Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m. back at Alix Goolden.

Returning there for a Saturday concert at 8 p.m., L’Europe Galante-A Grand Tour features Victoria Children’s Choir and the Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble celebrating the vocal works of Porpora, Galuppi and C.P.E. Bach.

Choral Evensong-Divine Music to Harmonise the Soul completes the festival schedule Sunday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral. A traditional choral evensong service typical of the Galant Style, the concert features the St. Christopher Singers directed by the Cathedral’s Donald Hunt and the Festival Ensemble under the guidance of Destrube.

“A festival presents an opportunity to bring together local musicians with those from afar. Victoria is blessed with a burgeoning early music scene, and we’re excited about introducing musicians and audiences alike to old friends from abroad,” Destrube said. “Pacific Baroque Festival is a mixing of musicians young and not-so-young, both local and international.”

For tickets and more information visit pacbaroque.com/2020-festival or call 250-590-0523.



editor@mondaymag.com

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