Western Canada Festivals Picks

Singing Valentines / Valentins chantants

Victoria Symphony

The Victoria Symphony continues its tradition of taking the band outdoors with a concert at Butchart Gardens on July 27. The following day the orchestra offers Beer & Beethoven on the Ogden Point Barge. Thousands will flock to the water’s edge on Aug. 5 for the annual Victoria Symphony Splash, a day of entertainment that ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. There are also concerts at Christ Church Cathedral July 25 and August 1. www.victoriasymphony.ca

Salt Spring Music Festival

From July 22 to 28, the Salt Spring Music Festival on Salt Spring Island features a series of concerts performed by young artists. The theme this year is Czech, including works by Dvorak, Janacek and Martinu. www.saltspringchambermusicfestival.com

Music By the Sea

Back on Vancouver Island, Music By the Sea at Bamfield is gearing up for another festival July 21 to 29. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, so keep checking their website for details. www.musicbythesea.ca

Vancouver Island Chamber Music Festival

The eighth Vancouver Island Chamber Music Festival takes place June 22 and 23 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Nanaimo. Featured classical performers are the Tiresias Duo and soprano Betty Allison with pianist Robert Holliston on Friday and the Tidesong Trio on Saturday evening. www.ncmusic.ca/vancouver-island-chamber-music-festival

Chor Leoni

And over on the B.C. mainland, the award-winning men’s choir Chor Leoni will once again be working with Bard on the Beach in concerts on June 25 and July 2. www.chorleoni.org

Early Music Vancouver

Early Music Vancouver is presenting Medieval Echoes on June 12 at Christ Church Cathedral. Flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen will play a program of contemplative flute music from Notker Balulus to Guillaume de Mauchaut and beyond; on July 30, Benjamin Alard plays Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the same venue. EMV is also presenting the inestimable Angela Hewitt on July 31 at the Chan Centre, where she will perform Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. There are further concerts Aug. 1 to 3 and Aug. 7 to 9. www.earlymusic.bc.ca

Vancouver Chamber Choir

On July 6, the Vancouver Chamber Choir is celebrating composer R. Murray Schafer’s 85th birthday with a tribute concert at the Chan Centre on the UBC campus. VCC’s director Jon Washburn will lead the choir and the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra in three major Schafer works. The evening will also feature filmed interviews with the composer and his longtime colleague, Washburn. www.vancouverchamberchoir.com

Vancouver Symphony

The Vancouver Symphony isn’t going away for the summer either. The orchestra is presenting a film concert series featuring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film in the Harry Potter series; and Star Wars: A New Hope. The film scores will be played live by the VSO July 5 to 7 (Harry Potter) and July 11 to 13 (Star Wars). www.vancouversymphony.ca.

Opera Nuova Festival

In Edmonton, Opera Nuova, an emerging artist-training program and festival, is celebrating its 20th anniversary from May 25 to June 30 with an extensive program of recitals and live productions. Some productions are brand new. Opera director Michael Cavanagh is staging a contemporary take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute called The Arctic Flute. The music is Mozart’s, but the story line tackles environmental and other northern issues. Cavanagh himself has written the libretto for a short opera called City Workers in Love, which will be performed in Edmonton’s French-Canadian district. The rest of the schedule includes an operatic interpretation of Molière’s Tartuffe, a one-act piece called Master Class about Maria Callas, and Sondheim’s Into the Woods, directed by former Edmonton Opera artistic director Brian Deedrick. www.operanuova.ca

Summer Solstice Festival

The Edmonton Chamber Music Society is back with its 14th Summer Solstice Festival. Running from June 18 to 22, the festival offers an eclectic mix of chamber music repertoire as well as master classes. On June 20 the St. Lawrence String Quartet will give a program including John Adams’s String Quartet No. 2, composed for the SLSQ in 2015. Players in the esteemed Canadian ensemble will also join other featured performers in other concerts over the week. They’re doing a gig at a local pub on June 19 and will share their love of Hayden with an education presentation at the Art Gallery of Alberta at noon on June 20. www.edmontonchambermusic.org

Edmonton Symphony

And as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has done for more than two decades, it will present a series of concerts in an outdoor amphitheatre in the river valley (weather permitting) over the Labour Day long weekend. Concerts include an array of styles from pop to classical, and on the last afternoon, the big guns of the Canadian military help get the spirit of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture just right. www.winspearcentre.com

Mercury Opera

The quirky little Edmonton-based Mercury Opera is taking its show on the road down to the renowned dinosaur haunts of southern Alberta. Following a successful run of La Traviata at Chez Pierre, a legendary city strip club, Mercury Opera is doing one performance of Carmen in the Badlands Aug. 4 at Drumheller’s Badlands Amphitheatre. Their productions are conventional, but their venues are anything but. www.mercuryopera.com.

International String Quartet Festival

The Banff Centre International String Quartet Festival returns for a second year. Featured quartets this year include two winners of the Banff International String Quartet Competition: the American Dover Quartet and Canada’s Rolstons, who won in 2016. The Tesla, the Calidore, and the Castalian Quartets, also past participants in the BISQC, round out the roster. The festival runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. www.banffcentre.ca

Agassiz Chamber Music Festival

Winnipeg offers the Agassiz Chamber Music Festival. With tongue in cheek, the festival is celebrating J.S. Bach’s 333rd birthday June 9 to 15, although many other composers are featured. Among the noteworthy performers are clarinetist James Campbell and pianist Stéphane Lemelin. Most concerts are at the Eckhart-Gramatté Hall at the University of Winnipeg. www.agassizfestival.com.


About Author

Bill Rankin is an Edmonton-based freelance writer. He is the Canadian correspondent for the American Record Guide and regular contributor to Opera Canada. He has also written features for La Scena Musicale, and contributed stories and reviews to the Globe and Mail, Gramophone, and other publications. He was staff classical music writer for the Edmonton Journal in the early '80s.

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