It’s not often I get to work with harpsichord. As someone who performs a fair bit of new (or at least newish) music, the proximity of this wondrous beast is a rare privilege. Fortunately, this all changes on Tuesday, when I’ll be performing a concert with harpsichordist Chris Bagan at the Cellar, as part of Music on Main’s Month of Tuesday series. Chris and I have will present four works by titans of the Baroque era: J.S. Bach, François Couperin, and G.F. Händel. These are composers who obviously need no introduction, and their music is stratospherically beautiful. In addition to these, we’ve commissioned four new works by Canadian composers, each reflecting on/paying tribute to one of the older works. Composers Cassandra Miller, Jocelyn Morlock, Alfredo Santa Ana, and Edward Top have all contributed fantastic gems that range from darkly mournful to humourously affectionate to all-out demented. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know these pieces, and we’re honoured that Cassandra, Jocelyn, Alfredo, and Edward have taken the time out of their (occasionally hellish) schedules to write these pieces especially for this event.
I’ve been wanting to present a programme of music from the 18th and 21st centuries for a while now. The Baroque and Modern eras of music are two cornerstones of interest for me, at least in part because they are two musical epochs that have suffered neglect from conventional concert programming. The rise of period performance practice, while unquestionably integral and inspiring, has inadvertently robbed us modern instrument performers of a vast treasure trove of repertoire: many performers are afraid to programme music of the 18th century for fear of playing it “wrong”. Likewise, the music of contemporary Canadian composers is often programmed apologetically as short, token works inserted between standard, Romantic warhorses. This concert is a way of addressing these curious facts, but moreover it’s an opportunity to connect with and share some intensely gorgeous music (like Couperin! Why don’t we play more Couperin??). At any rate, I’m deeply indebted to Dave Pay and the folks at Music on Main for allowing us the opportunity to present a programme that celebrates our musical heritage through a uniquely Canadian lens, and acknowledges our debt to the past while still looking forward.
If you’ve been to the Cellar for A Month of Tuesdays, you know it’s one of the best places in Vancouver to hear classical music: an intimate, informal atmosphere that combines great music, food, drink, and friends (my four favourite things!). Please click here for more information, and if you’re in the area and would like to come, consider reserving your seat in advance, as concerts on this series do have a tendency to sell out.