The Victoria Baroque ensemble is coming to Nanaimo with a concert dedicated to German-born composer George Frideric Handel and the group has enlisted the help of a pair of musicians from across the pond.
British harpsichordist Steven Devine will direct the show Joy, Passion, Metamorphosis, which features an appearance from his wife, soprano Kate Semmens. The concert takes place at St. Andrew’s United Church on Saturday, Jan. 12. Devine is a returning collaborator, but this will be the first time that Semmens will be performing with the ensemble.
“We have not done all that much Handel before, but it’s very fun for the audiences and its very fun for the players,” said Victoria Baroque flautist and artistic director Soile Stratkauskas. “He just has a very beautiful sense of melody so this is the first time we are focusing on doing some of his vocal works, which is really fun.”
The concert will include Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B flat as well as his orchestral suite from The Alchemist. Semmens will perform will perform the aria Sweet Bird from L’Allegro il Penseroso and Victoria baritone Nathan McDonald will join her in the cantata L’Apollo e Daphne.
“The concert is all music by Handel but it’s very varied music and there’s a great variety of different textures,” Stratkauskas said. “We have the baroque strings and we’ll also have baroque oboes, baroque bassoon and baroque flute and Handel uses all these instruments very imaginatively.”
Stratkauskas said the selected pieces all feature the “different colours” of the orchestra well and suit its size. She said L’Apollo e Daphne, which is based on a Greek myth, is “quite intimate, but at the same time Handel just pulls out so many different colours and different effects, different emotions out form the ensemble.” Stratkauskas said the group typically plays sacred music, and taking on more theatrical secular work has been a nice change.
She said Devine is a “very dynamic performer” and hopes the concert will leave audiences feeling energized and joyful. Stratkauskas added that the group’s use of period instruments contributes to its distinct sound.
“I feel like our performances on these instruments is a more personal and intimate experience,” she said. “And St. Andrew’s church in Nanaimo is a very nice space for these instruments to be playing in, so I think it will be a very nice, warm sound that will envelop the audience.”
WHAT’S ON … Victoria Baroque presents Joy, Passion, Metamorphosis at St. Andrew’s United Church on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults, $25 for seniors and $5 for students and children.