Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Baroque players on the road for first time

Early Music Society of the Islands: Concertos for violins, woodwinds and horns, with Kati Debretzeni, violin and director, and the Victoria Baroque Players When/where: Saturday, 8 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora Ave.
Early Music Society of the Islands: Concertos for violins, woodwinds and horns, with Kati Debretzeni, violin and director, and the Victoria Baroque Players

When/where: Saturday, 8 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora Ave.); pre-concert talk at 7:10 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $27, seniors and students $24, members $20, student rush $8. Call 250-386-6121; online at; in person at Ivy’s Bookshop, Munro’s Books, and the Royal and McPherson box offices.

University of Victoria Faculty Chamber Music Series: Music For and In the Moment

When/where: Saturday, 8 p.m., Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (School of Music, MacLaurin Building, UVic)

Since its debut in 2011, the Victoria Baroque Players has been developing rapidly on several fronts. Its programming, initially Bach-centric, now generously surveys European music of the 17th and 18th centuries, and its roster of collaborations with guest soloists and other ensembles keeps expanding. (Last year, it participated in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s summer vocal academy and in one of the Victoria Children’s Choir’s Christmas concerts.)

This weekend, the VBP marks further milestones: Friday it will perform for the first time outside Victoria, in a program for Early Music Vancouver, and on Saturday, it will make its debut with the Early Music Society of the Islands with a repeat of the same program.

That program includes seven early-18th-century concertos by major Italian and German composers — Vivaldi, Telemann, Graupner and Heinichen — featuring flute, horn, bassoon and violin soloists in interesting combinations.

Among the soloists will be a distinguished guest, violinist Kati Debretzeni, who will also direct the proceedings. Debretzeni, who was born in Transylvania and moved to Israel at age 15, now lives in London, where she is a member of and soloist with some of the world’s leading early-music orchestras — Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, English Baroque Soloists and European Brandenburg Ensemble — and various chamber groups.

This weekend’s program also marks the first time the VBP has had a guest conductor, and there are yet more milestones to come this season: in March, its most ambitious offering to date — Bach’s St. John Passion, conducted by Timothy Vernon — and in May, its first program of French Baroque music.

n n n

The University of Victoria's 50th birthday is still months away — it was officially inaugurated on July 1, 1963 — but it has been honouring its golden anniversary since the start of this school year, and the School of Music has shared in the celebrations for instance, in October, with a fundraising concert by a distinguished alumna, pianist Eve Egoyan.

On Saturday, the school will mount another celebratory concert, this one involving more than 20 faculty members in a program devoted to music by UVic composers — three current faculty members (Dániel Péter Biró, Christopher Butterfield and John Celona) plus Rudolf Komorous, who taught there from 1971 to 1989.

Cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni of the Lafayette String Quartet (UVic artists-in-residence since 1991) organized the concert and all four members of the Lafayette, along with clarinetist Patricia Kostek, will appear in Celona’s Cezanne’s Doubt, which was inspired by an article on the painter’s art and personality by French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Celona will also offer Networks for large ensemble, a homage to composer John Cage and dancer-choreographer Merce Cunningham. Many of the evening’s performers will participate in this “structured improvisation,” though they will have trouble topping one performance fondly recalled by Celona, given in Kansas City, Missouri, by a 50-piece Romanian accordion orchestra that “sounded like three philharmonic orchestras playing underwater backwards.”

Komorous will be represented by the wind quintet Fumon Manga, written mostly in Kyoto and influenced by the “serene beauty” of that city’s temple gardens, while Biró will be represented by two solo works from opposite ends of his career: Palimpsests, for piano, a student work from 1999 (originally for cimbalom); and Salvim (Quails), for viola, written for a new-music symposium in Brazil just last month.

Butterfield will contribute two recent major works: Pastorale, for the unusual quartet of accordion, violin, double bass and piano; and Omar Khayyam in Belfast, a song cycle for tenor, harmonium, guitar and seven assorted brass, woodwind and string instruments. The latter, receiving its première, will be sung by the composer’s brother, Benjamin.

Butterfield devised his texts by combining verses from The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam, as printed on six old postcards, with the messages scribbled on those postcards by a man in Belfast writing to his wife in England in 1920.