March 25, 2023

An unprecedented collaboration between Winnipeg choirs who are passionate about Baroque music.

Canzona and Dead of Winter join forces to present the 2023 Winnipeg Baroque Festival. With three concerts and a week full of special events, you won’t want to miss this exciting addition to the Winnipeg arts scene!

Click below for Monteverdi Vespers Program

MONTEVERDI VESPERS PROGRAM for Saturday, April 15, 2023

April 15, 2023 / 7:30 PMDead of Winter presents Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the Crescent Art Centre.

Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers is one of the most revolutionary pieces of early classical music to date. This ambitious performance, by Dead of Winter under the artistic direction of John Wiens, represents a landmark event in the history of period early music in Winnipeg.
Monteverdi’s Vespers will feature top early music soloists from across Canada including, Jane Fingler, Soprano; Dayna Lamothe, Soprano; Karla Ferguson, Alto; Tim Shantz, Kerry Bursey, Kyle Briscoe, Tenor; Scott Braun, Paul Bruch-Wiens, Jereme Wall, and  Jonathon Adams, Bass; 14 powerful Manitoba choristers; and 14 specialized instrumentalists from across Canada playing period instruments such as cornettos, sackbuts, theorbo, and portative organ.

Special thank you to Monteverdi Vespers concert sponsors Drs. Bill Pope and Elizabeth Tippet Pope.

Published in 1610 and organized into thirteen movements spanning an impressive ninety minutes, the Vespers is one of the earliest large-scale masterpieces of the Western world, connecting music loving audiences across artistic styles, cultures, and eras. Indeed, Monteverdi was the radical composer of his time, moving from brilliant, traditional Renaissance music to creating the controversial, more expressive style we now call Baroque. His Vespers paved the way for all tonally centered music we have come to know and love in our modern venues and concert halls.

What makes the Vespers a work of such distinction? It is dance-like, with showy operatic elements and flashy moments of virtuosity. Though its individual movements are inspired by the biblical psalms, the Vespers are enjoyable and accessible to secular and sacred audiences alike. Comfortable as both a performer and composer, Monteverdi wrote the Vespers for the musician as much as the listener, a work of sophisticated musical language that might be one of the best gateway drugs to early music there is. Think Handel’s Messiah one hundred and fifty years before Handel was even a thought; Claudio Monteverdi was something of a Jimmy Hendrix, transforming people’s idea of what instruments could do and music could be. 

Why should we care about Vespers, in Manitoba? In fact, there is a burgeoning early music scene right here in Winnipeg. With a well-established choral music scene on the national and international stage, Winnipeg is steadily growing as a hub for early music performance. A performance of Monteverdi’s choral works, which require a certain calibre of vocal prowess and skill, would represent a landmark performance of early music on a local stage. Indeed, choral singing is a balm for the soul. This musical expression is core to Manitoba’s history and has proven to be a unifying art form amidst Manitoba’s complex and multi-generational identities.
“It’s extremely important to our audiences to have a live experience of this kind of music,” says Andrew Balfour, Dead of Winter’s Artistic Director, and Canada’s leading Indigenous composer of contemporary classical music. “For us, part of our mandate is to present high-level choral music, and Monteverdi’s Vespers is one of the earliest masterpieces in the Western world. It doesn’t get any better than this for Manitobans.”
Balfour’s own artistic journey embodies two radically different identities that come to the fore through his involvement in early music performances like this one. Though he grew up as a choir boy at the All Saints Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Balfour was also a child of the Sixties Scoop. His artistic sensibilities have been shaped by these unique realities of his upbringing, each one holding tension with the other though absolutely vital to his life as an artist. Indeed, Balfour credits seminal early music works like the Vespers as foundational to his love for and success as the contemporary musician and composer he is today.
“Early music like this has helped me understand choral composition better. The cool thing is that whatever we do today as choral groups goes back to that. Haydn taught Mozart, Mozart taught Beethoven, and it’s just a continuous chain of influence across history. We’re always learning from the past to make the future fuller. All this music has continued to teach me what I want to write, as I strive to tell the stories of my Indigenous heritage through this medium.”

April 19, 2023, at 7:30 PM — Join Proximus 5 for “A Proximus Baroque” at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church (160 Ethelbert Street) in the heart of Wolseley.

In observance of the 400th anniversary of William Byrd’s death, this program will feature several of his most profound works. Byrd’s Mass for five voices will serve as the centrepiece of the program, interspersed with works by Bach, Handel, Lotti, Monteverdi, Pitoni, and Purcell.

April 22, 2023 / 7:30 PM — The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra joins Canzona for Bach’s longest and most musically complex motet, Jesu Meine Freude at the Crescent Art Centre.

Alongside this famous masterpiece, you will experience sparkling presentations of Bach’s more rarely-heard motet, “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht,” and Handel’s “The Ways of Zion Do Mourn” sung by some of Winnipeg’s finest choristers under the baton of Artistic Director, Kathleen Allan.

Visit for more information.

FULL FESTIVAL PASSES and individual concert tickets are available HERE.

We look forward to seeing you at the festival!