This weekend, the Winnipeg Baroque Festival launches their third instalment.  

The weeklong celebration of early music and the arts presents its largest offering yet, with nine concerts taking place around the city.  

“So many people here (in Winnipeg) love early music,” says Dead of Winter (DoW) conductor Mel Braun.  

Conceived by John Wiens, the program presents a group of eight singers, co-directed by Braun and DoW Artistic Director Andrew Balfour and features guest artists Daniel Cabena, countertenor, and the Cardinal Consort of Viols.  

“This concert that John has come up with is a really beautiful selection of masterpieces,” says Balfour.  



A family of bowed, fretted string instruments, viols were commonly employed in the 16th and 17th Centuries and regularly employed by composers such as Tomkins, Byrd and Gibbons – who all featured in the program.  

“If you’ve never heard (viols) live, it's haunting vocal,” says Balfour. “Even though it is a string instrument, it’s not the same mechanism as a human voice, but they were built to complement voices.”  

Another stunning sound is sure to be the singing of Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena. 

"Someone like Daniel has this really sweet voice that goes up almost as high as sopranos will,” says Braun. Though, he adds there is often a remarkable peculiarity found in the sound of countertenors.     

“There’s an unearthly quality, at times,” says Braun about the unique resonance of the voice type.  

In addition to English Renaissance and Baroque masters, Dead of Winter presents a viols version of Balfour’s “Trapped in Stone” and a relatively new piece by Indigenous composer Carmen Braden from the Northwest Territories.  

See and hear ‘Of Countertenors and Consorts” at the Crescent Arts Centre, Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $35 with festival passes available for $135.  

Visit: for tickets, passes and more details!  

Find a full list of concerts below! 

2024_WBF baroque festival program