Classical Music: Concerts showcase distinguished academy faculty

The Victoria Conservatory of Music’s summer academies for pianists and string players begin next week, those for guitarists, vocalists and Baroque instrumentalists in mid-July. All include public performances by both students and faculty members, and among the latter are some very distinguished local and visiting musicians.


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The first of the conservatory concerts, on Sunday, is a joint recital by pianists Michelle Mares and Mark Anderson, a recently engaged couple from Vancouver. Anderson has been an assistant professor at UBC since 2012; Mares, who was born in Vancouver, recently resettled there after having lived here since 2008, though she still teaches weekly at the University of Victoria.

Mares will perform Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Anderson a sonata by Julius Röntgen (1855-1932), an obscure but prolific German pianist-composer. (Anderson has released two all-Röntgen CDs on Nimbus Records.) The couple will also perform four-hand Bach transcriptions by György Kurtág, and the thrilling two-piano version of Ravel’s La valse.

On Monday, Bruce Vogt will offer a lecture-recital on Debussy, while on July 11 Susan de Burgh and Ed LeBarron will perform two-piano works by Arensky, Milhaud and Poulenc, as well as Carnival of the Animals, Saint-Saëns’s popular “grand zoological fantasy” for two pianos and chamber ensemble. Stephen Brown will conduct, and David Clenman will read pertinent verses by Ogden Nash.

(All piano-academy concerts: Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, UVic, 7:30 p.m., by donation.)

The guitar academy, directed by Alexander Dunn, boasts an impressive roster of instructors and concert artists from Victoria, the U.S., and Switzerland, who will be featured in six daily free concerts in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (July 18-23, 1:30 p.m.). Dunn’s own recital, on July 18, will include the Canadian première of a sonata by Ferdinand Rebay. The academy will close on July 23 (8 p.m.) with a concert by the Texas-based Grohovac-Ibison Duo, performing works by Turina, Regondi, Britten, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Rodrigo.

The vocal academy, which focuses on Baroque performance practice, includes three ticketed concerts of note (all at Alix Goolden Hall, 7:30 p.m., $25/$15).

The faculty concert, on July 28, showcases two internationally celebrated early-music specialists: soprano Nancy Argenta, who lives here, and Toronto-based countertenor Daniel Taylor. On Aug. 4, advanced singers from the academy will perform a program of solo cantatas by Bach. And on Aug. 5, the VCM’s summer program will culminate in a performance of Handel’s late oratorio Judas Maccabeus.

Running in conjunction with the vocal program will be an academy for Baroque instrumentalists, its faculty drawn from the Victoria Baroque Players, and this academy will supply instrumental forces for the three vocal concerts. London-based Steven Devine will play harpsichord in the first concert and conduct the other two.

The string academy will have no faculty recital; instead, it is sponsoring a recital by an alumnus of the VCM’s Collegium Program, violinist Philip Manning (Monday, 7:30 p.m., Wood Hall, VCM, by donation, proceeds going to the Collegium Program). Manning, 24, was a member of the very first collegium class, in 2006, continued in it for four more years, and performed widely as a member of the Collegium Trio.

On Monday, he will perform works by Brahms and Bloch, accompanied by pianist Robert Holliston, head of the VCM’s keyboard department.

This concert marks a homecoming for Manning, who was born here but spent the past two years in Pittsburgh, earning a diploma in music performance from Duquesne University.

In May, he auditioned for a position in the first-violin section of the Victoria Symphony, which had gone unfilled through several rounds of auditions. He won the position, and his tenure with the orchestra will begin with its summer concerts in July.

Manning also recently auditioned for and was offered a position in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, but chose his hometown — a choice he says was not difficult. (These were his first two professional auditions.)

Manning will give another recital on July 9, in Metchosin, sponsored by the West Shore Arts Council (7 p.m., Church of St. Mary of the Incarnation, $15, under 13 free; Accompanied by Braden Young, he will perform sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms, along with works by Bloch and Piazzolla.

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