Building on the momentum of the previous concerts in the series, Canzona concludes the 2023 Winnipeg Baroque Festival (WBF) with two of the foremost composers of the era.
Initially conceived in the early months of the pandemic, the program was designed in an effort to help provide musical healing through the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, says conductor and artistic director of Canzona Kathleen Allan.
“It’s two years later than we planned to be doing that program,” she says. “We still need healing – and probably even more so with everything that is going on in the world.”
Two Bach motets will be performed by Canzona, including the titular “Jesu, meine Freude” (BWV 227), the longest and considered to be the great composer’s most musically complex.
“It’s a real tour de force,” says Allan.
Like many of the motets (including the other on the program), BWV 227 is believed to have been written for a specific funeral in Leipzig in July 1723. Though you wouldn’t guess it based solely on hearing the music.
“There’s so much light embedded in how he writes about such sad things,” says Allan.
The rarely heard “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht” (BWV 118) will also be presented.
“It acknowledges loss, but it has this contemplative and meditative reflection and at peace quality,” notes Allan.
Handel’s “The ways of Zion do mourn” rounds out the program. Having been composed for the death of Queen Caroline in 1737, this, too, is funeral music that exhibits a great deal of gratitude and appreciation, notes Allan.
“In Handel’s case, this was his friend, his patron for many years,” explains Allan, noting he produced a “massive” work for the fallen monarch. "He really poured his heart and soul into this.”
Tickets for newcomers and refugees
As part of the effort to provide healing to those who need it, Canzona is offering tickets to newcomers and refugees free of charge -- available through the website.
“If you are new to Winnipeg, and we’ll let you self-define whatever that means, the tickets are freely available on our site,” says Allan.
“I hope that we can leave our problems at the door and just sit together and experience this beautiful music for a moment.”
Single tickets ($30) are available through www.winnipegbaroquefestival.com.
The concert takes place Saturday, April 22 at Crescent Arts Centre/Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (525 Wardlaw Ave.), beginning at 7:30 p.m.