Early Music Vancouver (EMV) proudly hosts its 50th Anniversary Gala, featuring the music of Beethoven, Mozart, & Haydn, on April 5, 2020 at 3pm at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. The concert marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the 50th anniversary of EMV, and the 30th anniversary of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO). Acclaimed Music Director Alexander Weimann will lead the PBO in dazzling performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor. The PBO will then be joined by the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Vancouver Cantata Singers, and the Vancouver Bach Choir for a magnificent finale featuring the Gloria from Haydn’s Creation Mass.
Hosted by Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest, this concert features the largest period instrument performance ever assembled in Vancouver — demonstrating the extent to which the regional early music scene has grown and flourished on the West Coast in recent years.
EMV’s gala concert begins with esteemed conductor Alexander Weimann leading 35 musicians of the PBO in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. The use of PBO’s historical instruments, which are similar to those that Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn would have known, have a dramatic effect on how this music is experienced, for both musicians and audiences. Those used to hearing these well-known pieces played by a modern symphony orchestra will be thrilled to hear how different they sound when performed on period instruments.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, which is often compared to the symphonic works of his immediate predecessors Mozart and Haydn, was composed in the spring of 1797 when he was studying counterpoint under Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. Despite being clearly rooted in the 18th century, Beethoven was already demonstrating elements of his unique and innovative voice. For example, though Symphony No. 1 is composed in the key of C Major, which is normally associated with simplicity, purity, and the fanfare of trumpets and drums, Beethoven takes things in a new direction, evoking an air of mystery and query by beginning the first movement on a dissonant chord that resolves into F Major, or the “wrong” key. Beethoven further strays from the expected path by incorporating woodwinds and pizzicato strings, rather than employing the solidity of trumpets and timpani. He cleverly takes his time finding his way to C Major, and along the way delights in dramatic changes of dynamics, sharp accents, and sudden modulations to distant keys. When he finally reaches home, he does so with a wink, resolving the first movement with a coda of 22 measures of C Major played fortissimo.
Next on the programme is Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor. The masterwork shares some brilliant characteristics of Beethoven’s Symphony No.1, including abrupt modulations, a strikingly undanceable minuet, and musical enigma. Composed in 1788, it is widely known as one of Mozart’s greatest works. Twentieth century pianist and writer Charles Rosen said that he heard “passionate violence and grief” in this work, while Hector Berlioz believed it was a “model of delicacy and naiveté.” Beethoven copied out 29 bars of the Symphony No. 40 in G minor in his notebook amid sketches of his own Symphony No. 5, demonstrating how the masterpiece served to inspire his imagination.
EMV’s 50th Anniversary Gala comes to a spectacular conclusion with the Gloria from Haydn’s Creation Mass. This rousing and majestic chorus features the combined forces of the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Vancouver Bach Choir, and the PBO, all under the musical leadership of Alexander Weimann. Pulsing with energy and resounding joy, the Gloria is the perfect end to this celebratory concert. The work also serves as a performance practice nod to the late 18th- and early 19th-century tradition of ending orchestral concerts with a magnificent choral excerpt involving hundreds of singers drawn from large choral societies.
EMV presents 50th Anniversary Gala Featuring Music of Beethoven, Mozart, & Haydn
Date: April 5, 2020 at 3pm
(Pre-Concert Talk at 2:15pm with Matthew White and Alexander Weimann)
Address: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Rd, Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z1
Ticket Prices: From $18
Box Office: earlymusic.bc.ca or 604.822.2697
Image of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra by Jan Gates
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