March 6, 2024

WINNIPEG, MB – The 3rd annual Winnipeg Baroque Festival, slated for April 14th through 21st, 2024, is set to provide Winnipeg music lovers with a buffet of musical offerings from the city’s best choirs and instrumentalists. 

“The Winnipeg Baroque Festival strives to build a sense of community celebrating music from the past and showcasing it in exciting and new perspectives,” says Festival artistic director Andrew Balfour. “Dedicated to showcasing and collaborating with musicians from across the musical spectrum in Manitoba and beyond, the Festival’s mandate is to provide access to some of the most glorious music in the musical canon to all in the community.”

Over the course of a week, the Festival is set to present nine concerts that run the gamut from the choral music that formed the foundation of the Festival in its first two years to instrumental offerings, which will be making their debut in this year’s Festival.

“We are so happy to be presenting a concert of instrumental music on period instruments for the first time at the Winnipeg Baroque Festival,” says Winnipeg violinist Momoko Matsumura. “Ancient composers’ intentions are timeless and if there’s anything the world needs in 2024, it’s a moment to unplug, put your life on ‘silent mode’ for a couple of hours and experience a real moment of shared humanity.”

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The 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival will begin on April 14th at 3pm at the Crescent Arts Centre in Osborne Village with Of Countertenors and Consorts, a concert presented by one of the Festival’s founding ensembles, Dead of Winter. Curated by John Wiens, co-conducted by the dynamic duo of Andrew Balfour and Mel Braun, and featuring top Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and a consort of four viol da gambas (like a cello but with frets and more strings in soprano, alto, tenor, and bass ranges), the ensemble will present works from the Elizabethan Renaissance alongside new works by Juno nominee Andrew Balfour and Carmen Braden.
Read more about Of Countertenors and Consorts

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At 7pm, audiences are invited to the College Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at the University of Manitoba to hear An English Restoration featuring the music of English Baroque masters performed by All the King’s Men. This concert is one of four in the Festival that are pay-what-you-can, making the music of the 17th and 18th centuries even more accessible!

The Festival resumes on Thursday, April 18th at 7:30pm for Mirrors. This concert features male quintet Proximus 5, who are making their return after a smashing debut in the 2023 Festival. They will be sharing a unique program of French and German Renaissance music inside the historic St. John’s Anglican Cathedral in Winnipeg’s North End. This concert also features NUOVOCE, one of Manitoba’s newest choral ensembles who will present repertoire that offers contemporary commentary on music from five centuries earlier. This concert is also being presented on a pay-what-you-can basis!

The second weekend of the Festival kicks off the following night, April 19th at 7:30pm, with another pay-what-you-can offering! The All Saints Anglican Church Choir invites you to Ascension Vespers in the historic All Saints Anglican Church, just across the street from the Manitoba Legislature on Broadway! This program, presented in the traditional Evensong format, will feature two beloved Baroque masterworks – J.S. Bach’s “Ascension Oratorio” and Dietrich Buxtehude’s “Magnificat”. 

Saturday, April 20th, promises to be the busiest single day in the history of the Winnipeg Baroque Festival. Three distinctive concerts by three Festival newcomers will be presented across the city, starting at 11am with the Canadian Mennonite University Festival Players. Their concert is entitled Cantatas, Cambers, Claviers & Coffee, which features solo offerings by two students in CMU’s Faculty of Music, along with a community ensemble presenting J.S. Bach’s beloved “Coffee Cantata”! This concert will take place in the Great Hall of CMU’s picturesque North Campus, and will also offer fitting refreshments for concertgoers!

Not to be outdone, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Winnipeg Chapter will be adding their annual Bach Marathon to this year’s festivities. Hosted at Young United Church in West Broadway, this concert includes an open sign-up for performers of all instrument types to share their favourite Bach music. The best part – the event will be hosted by none other than J.S. Bach himself along with his wife, Anna Magdelena! 

Music fans will want to finish off their evening back at All Saints Anglican Church just down the street to hear the first-ever instrumental ensemble to play at the Winnipeg Baroque Festival! Comprised of violinists Momoko Matsumura and Tatiana Friesen, violist Jennifer Thiessen, cellist Nathaniel Froese, organist Theresa Thordarson, and guitarist John Himes, the group will share a program entitled Fidem in Fidibus (Faith in Fiddles), featuring music by well-known Baroque composers like Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber to underperformed gems, including a piece by the first-ever female Baroque composer to be featured in the Festival, Isabella Leonarda. 

The final day of the Winnipeg Baroque Festival (April 21st) will start at 3pm at St. Andrews River Heights United Church with a concert by one of Winnipeg’s leading classical music artists, violinist Karl Stobbe. Karl’s program is entitled Sei Solo (To Be Alone), and it features well-known Baroque violin works by Bach alongside Canadian works that speak into the Baroque repertoire, including a world premiere by Quebec composer Michael Oesterle

What better way to close out the 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival than with a celebration, and festival co-founders, Canzona has cooked up a humdinger! They invite you to Knox United Church at 7pm in downtown Winnipeg for 35! A Choral Celebration, commemorating the ensemble’s 35th season with performances of Bach and Handel, along with an original commission by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. This concert will be led by new conductor Elroy Friesen, and will also feature a concert of alumni members performing an excerpt from Bach’s beloved “B Minor Mass” conducted by the ensemble’s founding director, Henry Engbrecht

“The festival is expanding every year and I hope Winnipeg audiences will hear music that is new to them,” says Matsumura. “There is a growing interest in historically-informed Baroque music performances among musicians and singers right here in our city, and the Winnipeg Baroque Festival is at the centre of it!”

“The Festival looks forward to bringing this passionate and exciting music for many years to Winnipeg audiences,” adds Balfour. “We’re even more excited to be doing so with the support of the local musical community, which is continuing to establish Winnipeg’s reputation as a cultural capital of the world.”

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