A pioneering work – one that is considered to be amongst the first great masterpieces in the Western classical tradition – launches the Winnipeg Baroque Festival (WBF) this weekend.  


In its second year, the WBF presents Monteverdi’s Vespers – an ambitious performance by Dead of Winter, joined by a stellar group of soloists and instrumentalists from across Canada – all led by conductor John Wiens. 

“The Monteverdi Vespers are the new music festival in 1610,” says Wiens.  

Fusing the old Renaissance sacred musical practice with the nascent expressive possibilities of opera, the groundbreaking work is a “really bold” clash of styles that results in something marvelously radical.  
“(The Vespers) is like this incredible paradigm shift where you can’t view it as old, you have to view it as new,” explains Wiens.  

The grand work calls on a large cast of musicians: seven solo singers, a chorus large enough to divide in as many as ten parts, and a varied and colorful period orchestra. The gut-strings and baroque bows used by the violins and the violas, the sackbuts (a precursor to the modern trombone) and the unique timbre of the cornetto all add to the “flamboyant” and “sensual” sound, according to Wiens. 

 “It’s going to be really remarkable,” he says.  

Experience the Monteverdi Vespers on Saturday, April 15 at the Crescent Arts Centre/Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (525 Wardlaw Ave.)  

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.  

Single tickets and festival passes are available through: www.winnipegbaroquefestival.com