Guest violinist Kati Debretzeni is directing Victoria Baroque’s upcoming Forces of Nature program at St. Andrew’s United Church. (Photo courtesy Joe Plommer)

Baroque ensemble presents program exploring nature and creation

Victoria Baroque and guest violinist to perform at Nanaimo’s St. Andrew’s United Church

The Victoria Baroque music ensemble is returning to Nanaimo with a program that explores the birth and life cycles of the natural world.

On Jan. 11 Victoria Baroque presents Forces of Nature at St. Andrew’s United Church. The program includes Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which depicts the seasons of the year, and and Jean-Féry Rebel’s Les Élémens, an orchestral suite about the creation of the Earth. The works will be played on period instruments.

Artistic director Soile Stratkauskas said the compositions go well together, as one is more familiar and one is less familiar, and also because of their similar themes and differing styles. She said the Vivaldi is “very Italian” and the Rebel is “very French.”

“It really showcases two very different styles of baroque period style of writing, but at the same time they have this link to nature and describing in musical ways changes in nature,” she said of the program. “They’re both very lively and colourful pieces. I think it makes a really good, interesting and contrasting pair.”

Stratkauskas said the ensemble chose the compositions, which centre on themes of nature and creation, because it is enjoyable to perform work that evokes imagery. She noted that they are also very rhythmic pieces.

“Often we just play abstract things like a concerto or a sonata, but it’s very fun when we have this kind of programming music and the Rebel originally was written as a ballet, so it would have had dancers so it also has very strong dance rhythm in it. And Vivaldi’s of course very rhythmic so it’s very fun for us,” she said.

European violinist Kati Debretzeni will join Victoria Baroque as guest performer and director, a combined role that Stratkauskas said was common in the baroque era. Debretzeni is a regular collaborator with the ensemble, having appeared on their debut CD, Virtuosi of the Baroque. She has also recorded The Four Seasons and Stratkauskas said “She knows the pieces so inside-out but also has very fresh ideas.”

Stratkauskas said Debretzeni is a demanding but inspiring leader who can elevate the ensemble to “a new level.”

“She’s extremely energetic and she also has this amazing radiance and warmth as a performer and as a player so it’s very engaging for all the players and for the audience,” Stratkauskas said. “It’s kind of extraordinary how she just draws everyone in as a player and also very imaginative, takes a lot of risks in performance, which is very exciting.”

WHAT’S ON … Victoria Baroque presents: Forces of Nature at St. Andrew’s United Church, 311 Fitzwilliam St., on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. General admission $30, $25 for seniors, $5 for students and children. Tickets available at Arbutus Music, Fascinating Rhythm and at the door.

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