As was the case a few weeks ago, an uncommonly busy and varied lineup of concerts looms this weekend, and indeed throughout November, as local groups wrap up their fall seasons before the annual glut of holiday music begins with the turn of December.
One of these groups, the Sidney Classical Orchestra, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, beginning Friday (7: 30 p.m., St. Elizabeth's Church, Sidney; $20/$10).
Its program will include short works by Mozart and Elgar, one of Haydn's magnificent Paris Symphonies - No. 83, the one known as The Hen - and a suite based on Canadian Christmas carols, composed by Stephen Brown, the orchestra's conductor. But the highlight will surely be Mozart's radiantly lyrical Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, featuring one of our most accomplished pianists, Michelle Mares, as soloist.
Also Friday, the Victoria Baroque Players, joined by the St. John's Chamber Singers and half a dozen young vocal soloists, will continue their seasons-spanning survey of Bach's sacred cantatas (7: 30 p.m., Church of St. John the Divine; $25/$23/$5).
With a nod to Remembrance Day, the ensemble has titled its program Music of Trust and Peace and promises "a vision of hope and light, providing a contrast with the darkness of November and the troubles of an imperfect world."
All three cantatas on the program (Nos. 99, 125 and 155) make notable use of wind instruments, and so will provide welcome vehicles for oboist Sand Dalton, bassoonist Katrina Russell, natural-horn player Andrew Clark, and the ensemble's founder, flutist Soile Stratkauskas (No. 99 is at times a veritable flute concerto). Winds will also be the focus of instrumental works by Graupner and Fasch, two important German contemporaries of Bach's.
On Saturday, the Victoria Jazz Society will present - apparently for the first time in Victoria - a concert of sacred music by Duke Ellington, whom even longhairs regard as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century (8 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall; $35/$45/$75).
A fundraiser benefiting Our Place, the concert features singers Dee Daniels and Marcus Mosely, the Fred Stride Jazz Orchestra, the Sacred Music Gospel Choir and tap dancer Alex Dugdale.
In the last decade of his life, Ellington composed mostly liturgical music, which he considered "the most important thing I've ever done," and he gave hundreds of sacred concerts around the world. Saturday's program, a blending of various genres (gospel, blues, big band, choral, spoken word, dance) will include In the Beginning God, which won the 1966 Grammy Award for best jazz composition, and more than a dozen other pieces, closing with Praise God and Dance, based on Psalm 150.
Among the Remembrance Day musical offerings on Sunday will be two choral concerts, including Sound the Trumpet, with the CapriCCio Vocal Ensemble joined by a brass ensemble and other instrumentalists, conducted by Michael Gormley (2 p.m., Christ Church Cathedral; $25/$22/$10).
Opening with traditional observances and closing with British folk songs, the program will also include part-songs by Stanford and two major works by Purcell: his glorious birthday music for Queen Mary, from 1694, and his more sombre music for the queen's funeral the following year.
In Sidney, the Via Choralis Chamber Choir will offer a Remembrance Day program built around Gabriel FaurÃ©'s beloved Requiem, conducted by Nicholas Fairbank (3 p.m., St. Elizabeth's Church; $15/$8).
Pianist Braden Young will stand in for the orchestra, and the serene Pie Jesu will be sung by Gwendolyn Jamieson, a 14year-old soprano who is already an experienced chorister and soloist. The program will also include FaurÃ©'s early Cantique de Jean Racine and works by several Canadians.
The Victoria Symphony, under the baton of its music director, Tania Miller, launched its season on Sept. 17 with a Legacy Series program that opened with the vivid first "chapter" of New World, composer-in-residence Michael Oesterle's very promising work-in-progress, and closed with a tonally splendid, powerfully stirring account of Nielsen's Fifth Symphony.
The Legacy Series continues on Monday with a concert featuring the welcome return of guest conductor Igor Budinstein, from Germany (8 p.m., Royal Theatre; $35-$80).
Local pianist Shoko Inoue will make her Victoria Symphony debut in Saint-SaÃ«ns' popular Piano Concerto No. 2, while the orchestra will offer works including Wagner's tender Siegfried Idyll and Schubert's Symphony No. 6, whose Italianate lyricism, verve and relaxed discursiveness point to an impressionable young composer in thrall to the hottest new music in Vienna: the operas of Rossini.
For more information about these concerts, go to sidneyclassicalorchestra.ca, victoria-baroque.com, jazzvictoria.ca, capriccio.ca, viachoralis.ca, and victoriasymphony.ca.
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