Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program
Nearly every major city in North America and Europe is now home to a baroque orchestra playing on period instruments. Large-scale organizations including Toronto’s Tafelmusik, Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque, Montréal’s Ensemble Arion, and Houston’s Mercury Baroque have built themselves into major players in the cultural scenes of their respective regions. This success has created new and exciting opportunities for musicians and audiences alike.
WATCH: The Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program in action
Over the last few years, a critical mass of world-class musicians experienced in baroque period performance have also moved to the Pacific Northwest. This is translating into a more active professional scene in this repertoire throughout the whole region. Their presence also creates a new opportunity for UBC Music students to be mentored by these musicians and enhance their training in baroque practice. Students who add this knowledge and experience to their resumes will see more opportunities to work professionally wherever they decide to live.
To this end, the UBC School of Music, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO), and Early Music Vancouver (EMV) are establishing a new Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme that will be open to a subgroup of students enrolled in MUSC 157A/557, Early Music Ensemble (EME) at UBC. This initiative demonstrates the joint interest of the university and the professional community to partner for the benefit of students as well as the long-term sustainability of the local music scene.
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, the Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, and as music director of Les Voix Baroques, Le Nouvel Opéra and Tempo Rubato.
Recently, he has conducted the Montreal-based baroque orchestra Ensemble Arion, Les Violons du Roy, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra; both the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra have regularly featured him as a featured soloist. In recent years, he has repeatedly conducted the Victoria Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia, most recently with Handel’s Messiah.
Alexander Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. He made his North American recording debut with the ensemble Tragicomedia on the CD Capritio (Harmonia Mundi USA), and won worldwide acclaim from both the public and critics for his 2001 release of Handel’s Gloria(ATMA Classique). Volume 1 of his recordings of the complete keyboard works by Alessandro Scarlatti appeared in May 2005. Critics around the world unanimously praised it, and in the following year it was nominated for an Opus Prize as the best Canadian early music recording. Recently, he has also released an Opus Award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with superstar soprano Karina Gauvin and his new Montreal-based ensemble Tempo Rubato, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, various albums with Les Voix Baroques of Buxtehude, Carissimi and Purcell, all with rave reviews. His latest album with Karina Gauvin and Arion Baroque Orchestra (Prima Donna) won a Juno Award in 2013, and a complete recording of Handel’s Orlando was released in the fall of 2013, with an exciting group of international star soloists and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra performing.
Alexander Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa cum laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, medieval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships for the highly talented. In addition to his studies, he has attended numerous masterclasses in harpsichord and historical performance, and has become intensely involved over the course of several years with Gregorian chant.
Violinist Chloe Meyers is a regular guest leader and orchestra member of baroque ensembles all over North America. She has worked with ensembles including Les Violons du Roy, Tafelmusik, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Les Boreades, the Theatre of Early Music, Les Idées Heureuses, and Les Voix Baroques. She recently joined the Pacific Baroque Orchestra as concertmaster and continues to play principal second with Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal. Most recently she played first violin on a Juno Award winning recording of Handel arias featuring Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin on the Atma Classique label.
Natalie Mackie studied cello at the Conservatoire de Musique (Québec), followed by a degree from the School of Music at the University of British Columbia. While at UBC, she began studying viola da gamba as well, and later pursued further studies at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague. Natalie has played with many ensembles in Canada and the U.S., including the New World Consort, Les Coucous Bénévoles, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Seattle and Portland Baroque Orchestras, Les Voix Humaines, Les Voix Baroques, Tempo Rubato, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Victoria Baroque Players, Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, and others. She has toured throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe, playing in cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, at London’s Wigmore Hall, Paris, Cologne, Strasbourg, Utrecht and Bologna, among others, and has recorded for Radio France, German Radio, BBC, CBC, and NPR, as well as the Canadian label Atma Classique. She plays violone, viola da gamba, and occasionally baroque cello, in Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and the Bach Cantata Project players, and frequently appears in Early Music Vancouver’s summer Festival. Natalie has a passionate and abiding interest in new music and performs newly commissioned works both as a soloist and with the ensembles of which she is a member.
Selected Supporting Artists
Andrew Clark, natural horn
Katrina Russell, baroque bassoon
Paul Luchkow, baroque violin and viola
Christina Hutten, keyboard
Solie Stratkauskas, baroque flute
How does it work?
EME students participating in the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme will rehearse weekly over each academic term at UBC (during normal EME course times) with a core group of five professional musicians led by internationally renowned conductor and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann. The rehearsals will lead to end-of-term concerts in December and April, featuring students and professionals performing side by side. The EME and Mr. Weimann plan to recruit a select group of students to participate in the programme (and register in MUSC 157A/557 for the year). This group will consist of a core of string players (4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos), plus a harpsichordist; additional players, such as wind instrumentalists, might also join if the repertoire is appropriate. Baroque instruments and bows will be made available to participants. Participation in the programme comes with a free subscription to both the Pacific Baroque Orchestra’s season and Early Music Vancouver’s new series: Baroque Masterworks at the Chan Centre.
SLIDESHOW: Inside a Baroque Orchestra practice session.
If you are interested in this benefitting from this important opportunity, register for Early Music Ensemble (MUSC 157A for undergraduates, 557 for graduates) and contact Alex Fisher, the Coordinator of EME.
Students interested in the programme should plan to audition for it on Monday, September 11th, between 1 and 3 p.m. (Music Building 400C). Please bring a piece of your choice to play (preferably from the Baroque era, ca. 1600-1750); there will also be a little bit of sight reading in a small chamber context. If you have not played a baroque instrument before, feel free to bring your modern instrument. Those who have not been in the Early Music Ensemble (MUSC 157A or 557) before should also have an informal audition the previous week; sign-up sheets will be available in the Music building lobby by the end of August.
Banner image by Jan Gates