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Music for Distracted Times       February 15th-19th, 2023

The 2023 Pacific Baroque Festival focuses on the music of 17th and 18th century England. With an ensemble of two violins, two viols, lute, harpsichord and organ, along with the wonderful soprano voice of Arwen Myers, we explore this rich period in music in which the political tumult of the early 1600s gave way to London becoming the largest city in Europe and a centre of artistic expression. Charles II’s reign saw the composition of the first English operas, the opening of the first public concert halls, and an influx of talented musicians from abroad which continued into the 18th century.

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Wednesday Evening, February 15th, 7:30pm

The Grand Tour

Organ works from around Europe

In 1770, the musicologist Charles Burney took the first of his two journeys to the continent to collect material for his History of Music. As with many upper-class Europeans experiencing ‘The Grand Tour,’ Burney would have savored musical delights in France and Italy which inspired his well-received The Present State of Music in France and Italy. Follow this concert’s musical journey and hear the many styles of the 18th century European organ in this tour de force of organ music from the English, French, German, and Italian schools.  The concert will begin with some of the continent’s music that helped transform England’s musical scene, including a charming organ concerto by Michel Corrette, then a suite by the iconic French organist Louis-Nicolas Clérambault. A wonderful arrangement by J.S. Bach of an Antonio Vivaldi concerto along with a Georg Muffat toccato complete the continental tour before returning to England to enjoy one of Handel’s organ concertos.These were created to be performed between the acts of his oratorios and became one of the biggest draws to London’s theatres. Handel’s friend Mrs. Pendarves declared them “the finest things I ever heard in my life.”  Join us for this concert and judge for yourself if Mrs. Pendarves was correct. Featuring the Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble and organist Mark McDonald.

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Thursday Morning, February 16th, 11:00am

The King’s Fiddler

Ayres for the Violin

The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 allowed music-making to flourish and drew composer - performers to write virtuosic music for their instruments. The German violinist Thomas Baltzar settled in London, and in 1661 entered Charles II's service as leader of the king's private music ensemble, the “Four and Twenty Fiddlers”. A later arrival was the Italian Nicola Matteis, who published several volumes of his ravishing ‘Ayres for the Violin’ in the 1670s and 1680s.

Friday Evening, February 17th, 7:30pm

A Sad Pavan for these Distracted Times

Cultural activity in England during the 17th century was disrupted by political, religious, and social upheaval.  In 1649 Thomas Tomkins wrote his "Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times," an outpouring of his feelings in response to the execution of Charles I and to the destruction of his organ at Worcester Cathedral.  Along with the Lawes brothers and Matthew Locke, Tomkins’ music epitomized the pinnacle of the eccentric English contrapuntal music with its piquant harmonies and love of dissonance, unlike the music in other countries.  Tomkins and William Lawes unfortunately did not live to see the restoration of the monarchy and the renewed enthusiasm for the arts brought about by the reign of Charles II. When Charles II was restored to the throne, native composers such as John Blow and the iconic Henry Purcell blossomed as they became influenced by the newly fashionable French style, producing some of the finest English music under the backdrop of war, plague and the Great Fire of London.


Saturday Evening, February 18th, 7:30pm

Foreign Inspiration

Visitors from Across the Channel

With the advent of public concerts, the fascination with opera, and the opening of the ‘pleasure gardens’, London, as the largest city in Europe, became a hive of musical activity during the 18th century. The plethora of musical opportunities attracted foreign musicians, especially from Germany and Italy, to visit or make their home there. One could hear the very latest compositions played by the best musicians of the day, most notably George Frederic Handel, who became a kind of composer-in-residence at the Vauxhall pleasure gardens during the 1730s.

Sunday Afternoon, February 19th, 4:00pm

Choral Evensong

Music Divine

The Pacific Baroque Festival concludes with a Choral Evensong Service at Christ Church Cathedral, featuring the music of Henry Purcell, Thomas Tomkins and others. This is a free offering and no ticket required!

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Single Tickets: $30 + tax & fees and $25  for Seniors/Students + tax & fees

Festival Passes: $100 + tax & fees and $80 for Seniors/Students + tax & fees are also available for purchase here.

VCM Box Office: 250-386-5311


The Pacific Baroque Festival is co-presented by the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Christ Church Cathedral Victoria and EMV.

The Pacific Baroque Festival is sponsored by the Renaissance Retirement Residence and The Magnolia Hotel. Book a stay at the Magnolia hotel at a discounted rate.

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