Shift­ing roles and sounds mark mu­sic scene The Draw:

MU­SIC

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CRIT­ICS’ PICKS

Change is good, and for that 2

rea­son alone we’re look­ing at an­other re­mark­able year in the realm of clas­si­cal and con­tem­po­rary mu­sic. In 2018-19, we get to see what the new leader of the Van­cou­ver Sym­phony Orches­tra has to of­fer—and the signs al­ready sug­gest that Otto Tausk is up to the job of re­plac­ing the dy­namic Bramwell Tovey. On a smaller level, the West­ern Front has found the per­fect per­son to re­place 24-year veteran DB Boyko as its new-mu­sic cu­ra­tor: Aram Ba­jakian is in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected as a mu­si­cian and com­poser, and has a deep knowl­edge of art forms both his­toric and avant-garde. We’ll also be fol­low­ing the Van­cou­ver Cham­ber Choir’s search to re­place artis­tic direc­tor Jon Wash­burn, and we can al­ready say that any of the can­di­dates will be an as­set to this city and its cul­ture. So let’s re­mem­ber that “May you live in in­ter­est­ing times” is not al­ways a curse!

(At the Or­pheum on Septem­ber 20) Otto Tausk’s for­mal de­but as the Van­cou­ver Sym­phony Orches­tra’s new mu­sic direc­tor takes place over the fol­low­ing two nights, but first he’ll be on the podium to usher in famed so­prano Renée Flem­ing. The Draw: One of the warm­est voices on the planet tack­les the deep waters of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Ev­ery­one. With a se­lec­tion of Broad­way hits also on the pro­gram, this has some­thing for all tastes.

RENÉE FLEM­ING

NIGREDO HO­TEL (At the Cultch’s His­toric The­atre from Septem­ber 20 to 22) With mu­sic by the late Nic Gotham and li­bretto by Ann-marie Mac­don­ald, this City Opera Van­cou­ver pro­duc­tion promises brainy Jun­gian thrills. The Draw: Bari­tone Tyler Dun­can and the fetch­ingly named so­prano Sarah Vardy star, backed by a per­cus­sion-heavy cham­ber en­sem­ble. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Film-noir fans.

(At the Shad­bolt Cen­tre on Septem­ber 21) Van­cou­ver’s pre­mier women’s choir kicks off its sea­son with a pro­gram that’s heavy on new Canadian com­po­si­tions. The Draw: Works by ris­ing star Kath­leen Al­lan and Elek­tra pi­anist Stephen Smith. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Ad­mir­ers of cool choral ele­gance.

ELEK­TRA WOMEN’S CHOIR VAN­COU­VER CHAM­BER CHOIR

(At Pa­cific Spirit United Church on Septem­ber 28) The Van­cou­ver Cham­ber Choir’s sea­son of­fers an ex­tended farewell to long-time artis­tic direc­tor Jon Wash­burn and a chance to vet sev­eral can­di­dates for his job. The Heart’s Re­flec­tion finds Fin­land’s Kari Tu­runen con­duct­ing a Nordic­fo­cused pro­gram; other ap­pli­cants who’ll be fea­tured later on in the sea­son in­clude Chor Leoni’s Erick Lichte and com­poser-con­duc­tor­so­prano Kath­leen Al­lan. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Any­one grate­ful for Wash­burn’s tire­less con­tri­bu­tions to the lo­cal choral scene.

(At Christ Church Cathe­dral on Oc­to­ber 13) Early Mu­sic Van­cou­ver presents a Bel­gian choir that has been win­ning much ac­claim in Europe, in a pro­gram capped by Henry Pur­cell’s Funeral Sen­tences and Mu­sic for the Funeral of Queen Mary. The Draw: De­spite their som­bre ti­tles, Pur­cell’s works are things of great beauty and ele­gance. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Ad­mir­ers of the English Or­pheus.

VOX LUMINIS

(At the Or­pheum An­nex from Oc­to­ber 18 to 20) The Black Dog String Quar­tet, Qu­atuor Bozzini, Quar­tetto Mau­rice, Mivos Quar­tet, Quar­tetto Noûs, the Pen­derecki String Quar­tet, and the ever-as­ton­ish­ing JACK Quar­tet will all con­trib­ute to this in­ter­na­tional sur­vey of con­tem­po­rary cham­ber en­sem­bles, as­sem­bled by Van­cou­ver New Mu­sic. The Draw: Un­bri­dled bril­liance, but spe­cial men­tion should be made of in­no­va­tive Navajo com­poser Raven Cha­con, who’ll de­velop new reper­toire in work­shops with lo­cal In­dige­nous youth. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Those who think they’ve heard it all. They haven’t.

JEN SHYU (At the West­ern Front on Oc­to­ber 19) Gui­tarist and com­poser Aram Ba­jakian’s first book­ing as the ven­er­a­ble West­ern Front’s new-mu­sic cu­ra­tor is an aus­pi­cious be­gin­ning: Nine Doors draws on Jen Shyu’s care­ful study of sev­eral tra­di­tional Korean, Ja­panese, and Tai­wanese in­stru­ments, in the ser­vice of a po­etic trib­ute to a friend and fel­low artist killed in an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent. The Draw: Traverse the spirit world in a per­for­mance that’s part shamanic rit­ual and part avant­garde mu­sic con­cert. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Mys­tics and ex­plor­ers.

(At the Or­pheum on Oc­to­ber 28) The father-and-son team of Shahram and Hafez Naz­eri re­visit their ground­break­ing Rumi Sym­phony, with an en­sem­ble of Per­sian all-stars. The Draw: Death­less poetry from 13th-cen­tury Sufi mys­tic Jalāl ad-dīn Muham­mad

SHAHRAM & HAFEZ NAZ­ERI

Rūmī, so­phis­ti­cated com­po­si­tions, and one of Iran’s great­est voices. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Hate re­sisters.

ECM+ GEN­ER­A­TION 2018 (At the Or­pheum An­nex on Oc­to­ber 28) Not a cel­e­bra­tion of the famed Ger­man record la­bel ECM, but Que­bec’s En­sem­ble Con­tem­po­rain de Mon­tréal, pre­sent­ing a cross-coun­try sur­vey of emerg­ing com­posers. Our own Turn­ing Point En­sem­ble presents. The Draw: Van­cou­ver will be rep­re­sented by for­mer res­i­dent James O’callaghan, whose star shone ex­ceed­ingly brightly dur­ing the ISCM World New Mu­sic Days Fes­ti­val last year. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Fu­tur­ists.

MODULUS FES­TI­VAL (At the Roundhouse Com­mu­nity Arts and Recre­ation Cen­tre, the West­ern Front, Stu­dio 700, and the Post at 750 from Novem­ber 2 to 6) Mu­sic on Main’s an­nual fes­ti­val of the new re­turns, with likely high­lights in­clud­ing an Eve Egoyan solo-pi­ano recital fea­tur­ing the mu­sic of, among oth­ers, John Oswald, Michael Snow, and MOM com­poser in res­i­dence Ni­cole Lizée. The shape-shift­ing Lizée will also of­fer a new work for the flute-and-harp duo of Claire Marc­hand and Al­berta Chan, with Stand­ing Wave tack­ling her works as well. The Draw: MOM artis­tic direc­tor David Pay’s rare abil­ity to of­fer in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion in a con­vivial set­ting. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Bons vi­vants.

WHEN THERE IS PEACE (At St. An­drew’s–wes­ley United Church on Novem­ber 10, and West Van­cou­ver United Church on Novem­ber 11) Chor Leoni has upped the ante on its tra­di­tional Re­mem­brance Day shows by com­mis­sion­ing a new work from com­poser Zachary Wadsworth. The Draw: The won­der­ful Bo­re­alis String Quar­tet and other guests join the lions. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Real­ists, be­cause war is sim­ply un­sus­tain­able.

CENTUM COR­PORA (At Moun­tain View Ceme­tery on Novem­ber 11) The Lit­tle Cham­ber Mu­sic Se­ries That Could com­mem­o­rates the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War by plac­ing 100 mu­si­cians next to the graves of 100 vet­er­ans in an out­door sound in­stal­la­tion. The Draw: LCMSTC man­ag­ing artis­tic direc­tor and com­poser Mark Haney’s gift for mix­ing the som­bre, the cel­e­bra­tory, and the sig­nif­i­cant. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Any­one whose fam­ily has been touched by war—which, sadly, means most of us.

PAUL LEWIS (At the Van­cou­ver Play­house on De­cem­ber 9 and March 3) The great English pi­anist of­fers the third and fourth in­stall­ments of his Van­cou­ver Recital So­ci­ety–spon­sored four-part in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Joseph Haydn, Jo­hannes Brahms, and Lud­wig van Beethoven. The Draw: There’s a rea­son why this reper­toire is at the core of Euro­pean mu­sic, and Paul Lewis is one of its most in­sight­ful in­ter­preters. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cists.

VSO NEW MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL (At the Or­pheum on Jan­uary 18 and 19, 2019) There will be fur­ther de­tails to come about the Van­cou­ver Sym­phony Orches­tra’s an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the new, but the two con­certs al­ready an­nounced fea­ture a well-cu­rated blend of mid­ca­reer Cana­di­ans and in­ter­na­tional stars. The Draw: John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize–win­ning Be­come Ocean has been hailed as “the loveli­est apoc­a­lypse in mu­si­cal his­tory”. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Deep-sea divers and other ex­plor­ers.

(At the Van­cou­ver Play­house on Jan­uary 22) Friends of Cham­ber Mu­sic’s sea­son is full of top-tier string quar­tets, with vi­o­lin­ist James Ehnes’s en­sem­ble be­ing one of the best. The Draw: An in­ti­mate look at a vi­o­lin­ist more of­ten found fronting in­ter­na­tional or­ches­tras. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Friends of cham­ber mu­sic, natch.

EHNES QUAR­TET

LA BOHÈME (At the Queen El­iz­a­beth The­atre on Fe­bru­ary 14, 16, 19, 21, and 24) The Canadian de­signer-and-direc­tor team of An­dré Barbe and Re­naud Doucet drew raves for their 2017 pro­duc­tion of Gi­a­como Puc­cini’s Tu­ran­dot, and now Van­cou­ver Opera has in­vited them back to tackle the Ital­ian mas­ter’s La Bohème. The Draw: What our own Janet Smith de­scribed as Barbe and Doucet’s “bold, un­usu­ally daz­zling vi­sion”. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Daz­zle devo­tees.

VAN­COU­VER ANOUSHKA CANTATA SHANKAR SINGERS

(At the Blus­son Spinal Cord Cen­tre on Fe­bru­ary 23) Mu­sica Univer­salis: Mu­sic of the Spheres sur­veys cos­mic choral mu­sic from the clas­si­cal to the con­tem­po­rary. The Draw: The Blus­son Spinal Cord Cen­tre’s atrium is a freak­ishly lively acous­tic space. Tar­get Au­di­ence: As­tronomers and other cu­rios­ity seek­ers.

DAN­ISH STRING QUAR­TET (At the Van­cou­ver Play­house on Fe­bru­ary 24) If these four Danes are be­com­ing a Van­cou­ver Recital So­ci­ety sta­ple, that can only be a good thing. Their lo­cal de­but was one of the finest con­certs of 2014, and their record­ings in­di­cate that they’ve only got­ten bet­ter since then. The Draw: The en­dur­ing beauty of Lud­wig van Beethoven, and a se­lec­tion of new sounds from the Nordic lands. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Lovers of the clean lines of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign.

NOSFERATU (At the Or­pheum on March 23) Jazz com­poser An­drew Down­ing de­buts a new score for the 1922 silent-film ver­sion of the hor­ror clas­sic, fea­tur­ing the Van­cou­ver Bach Choir and a band of im­prov and new-mu­sic heavy­weights. The Draw: Hav­ing al­ready scored The Phan­tom of the Opera, Down­ing’s proven that he’s got a gift for mak­ing old images sound new. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Hal­loween campers (in March).

(At the Chan Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts on April 27) Anoushka Shankar has emerged as the nat­u­ral heir to her fa­mous father Ravi’s place at the cen­tre of North In­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic’s pan­theon. The Draw: Shankar’s new band draws on the raga tra­di­tion, but also takes on the com­plex rhythms of South In­dian mu­sic, along with cello and pi­ano. Tar­get Au­di­ence: Fu­sion fanciers.

> ALEXAN­DER VARTY

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