Classical Music: VCM summer concert series starts Saturday

What: Victoria Conservatory of Music: Summer Academy Concert Series.
When/where: June 29 to Aug. 3, various times, Phillip T. Young Recital Hall and Alix Goolden Hall.
Tickets: Free to $25.
Details: vcm.bc.ca

Every summer, the Victoria Conservatory of Music offers intensive programs in solo and choral singing, various instruments, early-music performance practice and other subjects. Most of these summer “academies” include public concerts, some featuring students of varying levels, some featuring VCM and visiting faculty members.

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The Vocal Academy, for a small class of advanced student and professional singers, is already underway and will culminate in the VCM’s first summer concert, on Saturday, the program comprising selections from the song, opera and oratorio repertoires from the 16th century to the present day (7:30 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall, by donation).

The Piano Academy will begin on Monday, though its first faculty recital, featuring Milton Schlosser, will be held on Sunday. (All piano-faculty concerts at 7:30 p.m., in the University of Victoria’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, by donation).

On July 4, DuoCorde, the Vancouver-based husband-and-wife pianists Mark Anderson and Michelle Mares, will perform works by Brahms and Grieg and by two obscure but interesting late-Romantic German composers, Carl Reinecke and Julius Röntgen. (Anderson has recorded four CDs of music by Röntgen for the Nimbus label, the most recent of which appeared in March.) And on July 6, Bruce Vogt, the longtime UVic professor, will perform Schumann’s great Fantasie, Op. 17, and works by Brahms including the early Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Op. 9, which he will also discuss from the stage.

In July, the VCM will offer an academy on Baroque performance practice for instrumentalists, directed by flutist Soile Stratkauskas, founder of the Victoria Baroque Players. Of the nine other faculty members, most are regular members of the VBP; the others are accomplished visitors from Vancouver and Seattle.

These faculty members will be featured in concert on July 17 (7:30 p.m., $25/$5), and the academy’s final concert will follow on July 20 (3 p.m., by donation), both in Alix Goolden Hall.

The faculty concert is a chamber and orchestral program including Handel’s Water Music suite in G major and works by Biber, Fasch, Telemann and others. The July 20 concert will feature faculty-led student orchestras (more than 40 performers in all) in works including Telemann’s Water Music and Don Quixote suite and Jean-Féry Rebel’s delightful Les caractères de la danse, from 1715, a highly original fantasy that offers a potpourri of French Baroque dances — a perfect teaching piece.

The Guitar Academy, directed by Alexander Dunn, who teaches at both the VCM and UVic, will include five recitals in Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, two of them featuring visiting faculty members: the internationally renowned Randy Pile, from California (July 23, 1:30 p.m., free), and a younger colleague, Toronto-based Michael Kolk (July 27, 7:30 p.m., $25/$20).

Two other free guitar recitals will feature “emerging artists” both pursuing master's degrees: Razvan Bezna, who is at Florida State University (July 25, 1:30 p.m.), and Simon Farintosh, a Victoria native (and former student of Dunn’s) who is currently at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (July 26, 1:30 p.m.).

This academy will also include a showcase concert featuring students and faculty members in solo and guitar-orchestra works (July 27, 1:30 p.m., free).

The last of the VCM’s summer programs is the Choral Academy, directed by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Whitney and conductor Brian Wismath and including a distinguished visiting instructor, Bruce Pullan, an English-born choral conductor who has been based for many years in Vancouver.

This summer, the Choral Academy is focusing on mixed repertoire for both full and chamber choirs, the former comprising sacred music by composers including Mozart, Joseph Rheinberger, Ivo Antogini and the late Vancouver-based choral conductor Diane Loomer, founder of the Elektra Women’s Choir and Chor Leoni Men’s Choir. The chamber-choir repertoire is even more diverse, dating back to the Elizabethan era and Bach and including Elgar, Copland and several contemporary North Americans.

The Choral Academy’s final concert will be on Aug. 3 (7:30 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall, by donation).

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