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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 9

Summer Festivals: Western Canada

by Paul Serralheiro / June 5, 2004

From Manitoba to Vancouver Island, festivals abound this summer with everything from early music to contemporary, with good doses of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in between, all of which can be part of one's vacation experience.

There is a lot to choose from in either urban or rural settings: aside from concerts featuring up and coming young talents and world class established musical masters, there are also workshops and master classes.


Winnipeg will host the Agazziz Music Festival from June 21-30. It offers an intensive chamber music workshop for university-level students and professionals alike, and a series of concerts by world-renowned faculty. The opening gala on June 21, hosted by Andrea Ratuski of CBC Radio's Northern Lights, will spotlight Dvorák. The festival continues with concerts featuring seasoned and emerging artists, closing on the 30th with a "Paris fin-de-sičcle" finale. The events take place in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, at the University of Winnipeg. For more information visit www.umanitoba.ca/agassimusic.


Beethoven at Buffalo Pond is a special day-long event happening on August 29 in Regina. Among others involved will be the Regina Symphony. The Web site advises people to "take your place on the hill to enjoy a full day of activities--pancake breakfast, pre-concert music (rhythm/blues to Celtic/country), ongoing children's activities and a performance by the Regina Symphony Orchestra featuring music by Beethoven and music from the movies." For more information: www.sasktourism.com or www.reginasymphony.com.


The earliest activity occurring as one approaches the Rockies is the Alberta Music Festival Association's June Festival, an instructional event running from June 3-5. Classes in voice, piano, string, guitar, brass, chamber music, speech, creative music and musical theatre will be held in Edmonton, at Grant MacEwan Alberta College and McDougall United Church. For more info: www.members.shaw.ca/amfa.

For those who want Mozart, but with some variety, there is an aptly titled two-concert event, More Than Mozart. It will take place at Edmonton's Winspear Centre on July 8 and 10, played by the Edmonton Symphony under the direction of Richard Buckley. Along with Mozart symphonic music, listeners will enjoy Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and the Egmont Overture, as well as works by Haydn. For more info: www.edmontonsymphony.com.

Crowning the Albertan summer is the Banff Arts Festival, running from July 10-August 14. The musical facet of the prestigious festival includes a performance on July 16 of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Krzysztof Penderecki's Concerto Grosso with Penderecki himself conducting the Banff Festival Orchestra, joined by guest cellists Shauna Rolston, Rachel Mercer, and Raphael Hoekman. Other items of note include the Mostly Mozart Sundays throughout the festival and a number of distinguished guests, such as The Gryphon Trio on July 30, in a series entitled Fridays with Friends. For more info: www.banffcentre.ca/bsaf.

The Mountain View Festival of Song and Chamber Music in Calgary offers six concerts from August 3-17 at the Rozsa Centre at the University of Calgary. The concerts feature, among others, violinist Janos Negyesy and cellist Yegor Dyachkov. In addition, pianist Rudolph Jansen will be leading a number of master classes for singers and pianists. The concert repertoire will include a diverse range of works, from Hugo Wolf to André Previn and Claude Debussy. For more info: www.mountainviewfestival.com.

At Convocation Hall, University of Alberta, and the Provincial Museum Theatre, the Newly United Operatic Vocal Association (NUOVA) will present the Canadian Vocal Arts Festival, held in Edmonton from May 22-June 22. The festival features concert presentations of opera and various art song traditions. Public master classes are also on the bill, as is a Sunday afternoon lecture series entitled Opera Enlightenment. For more information call 780-487-4844.

British Columbia

Whether you're in the interior, the lower mainland, or on the islands, beautiful British Columbia has events in both rural and urban settings.

In the natural setting of the Okanogan Valley, a series of outdoor concerts in Kelowna called Mozart on the Move will be presented from July 25-August 16. For more information: www.okanaganmozartfestival.com.

Ridged by the awesome Coastal Mountains and spread out next to the Pacific, Vancouver offers several opportunities to hear outstanding musicians performing a variety of styles from a wide range of epochs.

Festival Vancouver, which runs from August 2-15, is one of North America's largest classical music festivals. In 9 of the city's major venues, including the Orpheum Theatre, the Chan Centre, and the Vancouver East, Cultural Centre, music will be presented from morning to midnight, for a total of 50 concerts. The rich and varied program includes a choral series, a sacred music series, French chamber music, and a Debussy piano day. For more information: www.festivalvancouver.bc.ca.

The Vancouver Early Music Festival runs from July 18-August 20. An annual event jointly sponsored by Early Music Vancouver and the School of Music of the University of British Columbia, the series offers a very meaty serving of workshops and concerts. Each concert will be preceded by an introductory talk, and workshops will consist of instruction for advanced participants in medieval, baroque vocal, and instrumental programs. Amateurs will be able to participate in early music, historical dance, and harpsichord maintenance workshops. Faculty and guest artists include dancer Steven Adby, cellist Phoebe Carrai, soprano Ellen Hargis, recorder master Deborah Jackson, and singer and teacher Eric Mentzel. This all happens at the UBC School of Music. For more information: www.earlymusic.bc.ca.

On the campus of Crofton House School and the lawns of Green College, UBC, the Vancouver Chamber Music and Song Festival runs from July 20-30, presenting 28 musicians from around the world, as well as special guest actress Janet Suzman, for three evenings of song, five evenings of Chamber music concerts, two morning chamber music concerts, two world premieres, one free outdoor sunset concert, and one free family concert with musical instrument petting zoo. For more information: www.vanrecital.com.

A beautiful ferry trip across the Straight of Georgia will expose audiences to yet more wonderful celebrations of the spirit of music making. A stop on Saltspring Island, any time from July 8-August 20, will allow people to take in the variety of music and arts of Festival Artspring, a feature of which is the Stuttgart Chamber Choir with conductor Frieder Bernius on August 8. Chamber music sounds on August 14 and 20. Guests include violinist Kai Gleusteen, French pianist Catherine Ordoneau, and Oboist James Mason. For more information: www.artspring.ca.

In Nanaimo on Saturday August 7, Symphony in the Harbour will be a one-day event at the Maffeo-Sutton Park. Music-lovers are invited to bring their supper picnics and lawn chairs to hear the Vancouver Island Symphony under the direction of Marlin Wolfe. For more info: www.viso.bc.ca.

Finally, the Victoria Conservatory of Music Sounds of Summer will offer five weeks of master classes, lectures, workshops, orchestra rehearsals and concerts from July 5 to August 7 in the panoramic southern tip of Vancouver Island. Guest artists include Judith Forst, Paul Horn, and Malcolm Forsyth. For more information: www.vcm.bc.ca/summerac.html

(c) La Scena Musicale