In the 15 years the Pacific Baroque Festival has been running, some interesting things have happened.
Not only has the number of musicians interested in and actively playing this style of music grown in Victoria, a relationship with Early Music Vancouver has allowed this annual celebration to flourish and become a premiere event in the Pacific Northwest.
“Looking a little bit from the outside, Victoria has really developed into a mecca for early music,” says artistic director Marc Destrube. “In the early years of the festival, we made a point of bringing in musicians who had some connection to Victoria. Now, there’s such a tribe of musicians here that most of this year’s performers are actually living here.”
Many notable early music musicians have relocated to the Island, he notes, while that has also given newcomers to the genre a chance to learn more about it.
This year’s festival, running Feb. 7-10 at Christ Church Cathedral and Alix Goolden Performance Hall, once again allows local classical music lovers to hear compositions they likely haven’t heard before. Destrube and other performers continue to search out little-known material and composers, to let listeners experience musical discoveries and historical ones.
The first concert, titled Music That Deserves to be Heard (11 a.m., Feb. 7, Alix Goolden Hall), is a good example. It features “rarely heard gems from the Düben Collection,” as played by the ensemble La Modestine. The Swedish family has collected a variety of pieces, including sonatas by Buxtehude, Becker and Reincken that will be played here.
“We find that many great (baroque) composers lost their sheen because a composer who came immediately after them became famous,” Destrube says, noting that the triumphant work of Bach and Handel, for example, may have overshadowed that of the prolific Telemann, Albinoni and others from the late 1600s.
“I always hope that people will come to as many concerts as they can. The festival is a way of sparking people’s curiosity and giving them a richer experience.”
Tickets and more festival information can be found online at pacbaroque.com. You can also pick up tickets in person at the Victoria Conservatory of Music box office on Johnson Street, the cathedral office on Burdette Avenue, plus Ivy’s, Tanner’s and Munro’s bookstores, or Long and McQuade.
Individual performance prices are $25 and $30 for adults, $20 and $25 for students and seniors. If you’re keen on attending all four performances, consider a festival pass for $100 (adults) of $80 (students/seniors).