Northwest Baroque Masterworks presents Theodora

Alexander Weimann

An oratorio by George Frideric Handel

Friday, February 13, 2015, 8:00 pm
Preconcert lecture at 7:00 pm
Town Hall Seattle

Please note, this event has passed.

Alexander Weimann returns to Seattle to direct the Northwest Baroque Masterworks Orchestra and Chorus in Händel’s penultimate oratorio, featuring soprano Nathalie Paulin, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo, counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo, tenor Zachary Wilder, and bass Matthew Brook. Based on the story of a fourth-century Christian martyr and her lover, Theodora was Händel’s personal favorite among his works, though it received only three performances in his lifetime. With more than 70 musicians on stage, this will be our largest production to date.

Theodora marks the first project of Northwest Baroque Masterworks, a collaboration of Early Music Guild, Early Music Vancouver, and Early Music Society of the Islands (Victoria).
 
Alexander Weimann directing Handel’s Israel in Egypt:

 
Theodora Program Notes
by J. Evan Kreider

By 1749, George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel) was still revered as England’s foremost composer, though keeping ahead of the ever-changing whims of London’s notoriously fickle audiences was an ongoing challenge. The 65-year-old’s obligations for the coming season were daunting. He was to provide Fireworks Music in celebration of the recent Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, inspect and inaugurate the new pipe organ he was donating to the Foundling Hospital (his favorite charity), write several more organ concerti, and contract soloists and instrumentalists for multiple performances of several earlier oratorios. Finding time to write even a single new oratorio for the coming Lenten Season would be difficult.

Only 38 years earlier, this young German’s Italian opera Rinaldo had been so successful that the king and others persuaded Handel to move to London…

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But by 1741 and 37 operas later, ticket receipts were no longer covering costs. The Londoners’ former thirst for Italian opera had been well-quenched. Fortunately, the enterprising Handel had already begun offering entertaining oratorios in English in 1732 for the austere weeks of Lent, when society’s upper classes felt obliged to submit to ecclesiastical admonitions to forego secular theatrical performances during the season of repentance. Handel realized how readily texts extolling heroic biblical figures could supplant those about ancient deities and Roman politicians. Omitting stage sets and staging helped to quiet uneasy consciences even further, and yet the oratorio libretti, operatic soloists, choir and orchestra could remain as dramatic as in any opera. Being sung in English also worked, as Handel learned when he presented Esther in London (1732, libretto by Alexander Pope—not to be confused with Pope Alexander). By the 1740s, Handel was managing to write one, and sometimes two new oratorios for the coming Lenten season’s concerts. Yes, his audiences still adored Messiah year after year, but they wanted other oratorios as well—annually.

Thus it was that in 1749, when Handel turned his attention to the coming 1750 Lenten season, he quite naturally asked his latest favourite librettist, the Rev. Thomas Morell (1703-84) to create something special. Morell had been reading Love and Religion Demonstrated in the Martyrdom of Theodora, and of Didymus (London: John Taylor, 1703), written by the Irish physicist and chemist, Robert Boyle (1627-91, best known for “Boyle’s Law”). Settling on the more manageable title Theodora, Morell created a libretto which he felt would both stimulate Handel’s creativity and appeal to English audiences. Rather than another story from Hebrew scripture (Deborah, Saul, Israel in Egypt, Joseph and his Brethren, Joshua, Solomon) or the Apocrypha (Judas Maccabaeus), Morell turned to this legendary story of two martyred saints set in the societal and political struggles between the established Roman state religion and the new faith becoming known as Christianity. This offshoot of Judaism was increasingly attracting slaves and women—the marginalized who had little to lose by exploring the ideals of equality and economic charity advocated by Jesus and St Paul. By the third century, Christianity was beginning to infiltrate certain isolated circles of Roman noble women, occasionally an entire Roman household, and even individual Roman soldiers secretly converted. The oratorio’s opening pages reveal the growing opposition to the old religious thinking. Constantine’s Edit of Milan would decriminalize Christianity in 313, but our story takes place 302-305, in Antioch during the reign of Diocletian.

Morell saw how a story focusing on two individuals in this environment could give expression to profound conflicts of loyalties between friends, the struggle between the status quo and new ideas, and the inner anguish over whether to remain a secret Christian, recant Christianity or die for your faith. Add to this the tension between physical and platonic love, and Theodora’s inner struggle (as a Christian virgin of noble birth) between the expediency of escaping a sentence of enforced prostitution (occasionally associated with certain religious festivals) and the agony of renouncing her faith—there is more than enough dramatic fodder for each aria and recitative. In all this turmoil, Morell found ways to insert subtle pleas for freedom of thought and even religious freedom, topics of contemporary interest as Methodism gained adherents at the expense of the established national church in the midst of an increasingly secular society. Whatever its merits, this story about two Roman Christian martyrs was far-removed from the previous year’s oratorios featuring the magnificent pageantry of Solomon or the charming rural comedy of Susanna.

Handel considered the libretto for Theodora to be the best and most stimulating he had ever encountered. Indeed, the role of Theodora is generally considered his best for soprano. Successful oratorios, like all theatrical works set to music, require emotive texts which encourage the composer to create music supporting each distinct emotion through the character of its accompanying melody, and by the rhythms reflecting the relative intensity or contemplative nature of the words. Most wonderfully of all, the orchestra’s changing colors and moods continually depict the passing emotional landscapes on the expansive musical canvas. But even small touches can transform us, as when, in the Symphony which opens Act II, Scene 2 (set in prison), the strings play repeated chords, which are answered by a single note held by the flutes—a melody which is as fettered as Theodora herself. It is always fascinating to follow what Handel does with the orchestra in the succession of arias, now simply undergirding the vocalist, now providing a melodic counterfoil, now vigorously competing for attention, now outshining even the most acrobatic vocal arabesques.

Julian Herbage once quipped that “Handel’s pagans always have an ear for a catchy tune, and an almost complete ignorance of counterpoint.” By contrast, the Christians get the more profound choruses—often with superb counterpoint. Biographia Dramatica reports that Handel was asked “whether he did not consider the grand [Hallelujah] Chorus in The Messiah as his masterpiece. ‘No,’ said he, ‘I think the chorus, He saw the lovely youth,’ at the end of the second part in Theodora far beyond it.’” Contemplative choruses can be truly effective for the sensitive listener.

One wonders why such an oratorio did not initially succeed in London. Handel once quipped that it was because “The Jews will not come to it as to Judas because it is a Christian story; and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one.” Charles Burney writing of slim attendances at Handel’s concerts one season, reported, “Sometimes, however, I have heard him, as pleasantly as philosophically, console hi[s] friends, when, previous to the curtain being drawn up, they have lamented that the house was so empty, by saying, ‘Nevre moind; di moosic vil sound de petter.’” Fortunately, today’s audiences are embracing Theodora wholeheartedly, as the recent Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s 1996 revival proved. Be prepared to be amazed by how effectively this wonderful music continues to speak to us 266 years after it was written by the composer, who—single-handedly—began the English world’s love affair with English oratorio.

 

“… led from the keyboard by Alexander Weimann…was collegial, collaborative music-making of the highest level…” – Vancouver Sun

 
Theodora soloists

Soloists Biographies

NATHALIE PAULIN, SOPRANO
Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, she has collaborated with internationally renowned conductors including Jane Glover, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Antony Walker, Sir Roger Norrington, Andrew Parrott, Jonathan Darlington, Hervé Niquet, David Agler, Richard Bradshaw, Bernard Labadie, Michael Christie, Robert Spano, Mario Bernardi, Graeme Jenkins, Andrew Litton and Yoav Talmi on both the concert platform and in opera.

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As well, critics have been lavish in their praise. Reviewing from Chicago, John van Rhein noted that “Paulin in particular is a real find; her rich, agile voice possesses great depth and allure, her manner radiates sensuous charm.” Ms. Paulin debuted for L’Opéra de Montréal as Mélisande in PÉLLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE and for Chicago Opera Theater as Galatea in ACIS AND GALATEA. She was re-engaged by Chicago Opera Theater for the title role in SEMELE and for Mary in LA RESURREZIONE, both by Handel. She has also been heard as Constance in DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES for Calgary Opera, Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI for L’Opéra de Québec and Susanna in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO for Cincinnati Opera. The Dallas Opera featured her in CARMEN and CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN.

Nathalie Paulin photo by Seibastien Ventura


 
KRISZTINA SZABÓ, MEZZO-SOPRANO
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó has become highly sought after in both North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft. The Chicago Tribune exclaimed, “Krisztina Szabó stole her every scene with her powerful, mahogany voice and deeply poignant immersion in the empress’ plight” after her performance of Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea.

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She made her Lincoln Center début as Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the Mostly Mozart Festival where she was praised in the New York Times for being “clear, strong, stately and an endearingly vulnerable Dorabella.”

Krisztina Szabó’s 2013-14 season includes soloist in Messiah with the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Against the Grain Theatre, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni in a return to Vancouver Opera and Ljubica in Ana Sokolovic’s Svabda/Wedding in her Opera Philadelphia debut. She also sings in Janácek’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared in the “Soundings” series at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (TX), as soloist in a Mozart evening with the Ottawa Choral Society, as Second Harlot in Handel’s Solomon with Les Violons du Roy, as the Flight Attendant in Airline Icarus with Soundstreams and as featured soloist with PluralEnsemble, Spain, under the baton of renowned composer-conductor, Peter Eötvös. In season 2012-13 she sang as Musetta in La bohème with Vancouver Opera; Giulietta/Stella in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Edmonton Opera; as soloist in Messiah with the Calgary Philharmonic; debuted with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Bach’s Mass in B Minor; with Vancouver Bach Choir in Adams’ El Niño; returned to Toronto Mendelssohn Choir as soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis; and to Queen of Puddings Music Theatre in a new work by Chris Paul Harmon.

Ms. Szabó exemplifies today’s modern singer: she is vocally versatile, possesses excellent stage prowess and paints vivid character portraits on both the opera and concert stages. She sings frequently at the Canadian Opera Company and has been seen in diverse roles, such as Le Pèlerin in L’amour de loin, Idamante (Idomeneo), Musetta (La bohème), The Double-Offred in the Time Before (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Nancy (Albert Herring). In 2006 she helped christen the company’s new opera house in their critically acclaimed Ring Cycle as Wellgunde (Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung), and Siegrune (Die Walküre) and returned to open their 06/7 season in the role of Dorabella (Così fan tutte). Canadian audiences have also seen Ms. Szabó as Sesto (La clemenza di Tito) and Musetta in La bohème with Vancouver Opera, Meg (Little Women) with Calgary Opera, Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with L’Opéra de Québec, Edmonton Opera and Calgary Opera, Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bernard Labadie conducting, Nerone (Agrippina) with L’Opéra de Montréal, and as the title role in Iphigénie en Tauride with Opera Atelier.

Outside of Canada, Ms Szabó has performed a wide variety of roles including: Rosalind (The Mines of Sulphur) for the Wexford Festival Opera (company début), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) – all with Chicago Opera Theater, Magnolia (Showboat) with L’Opéra National du Rhin, the title role in Charpentier’s Médée with Le Concert Spirituel in Paris, The Queen of the Fairies in Ana Sokolovic’s hilarious new opera, The Midnight Court, with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre’s tour to England, Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Bianca (Mercadante’s Il giuramento) with Washington Concert Opera, and Dido (Dido and Aeneas) with Music of the Baroque.

Krisztina Szabó is a frequent performer of recital, concert and chamber repertoire. She has appeared as a soloist with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Mozart’s Mass in C Minor), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (B minor Mass) L’Orchestre Symphonique de Québec (Bach’s Mass in B Minor), the San Antonio Symphony (Handel’s Messiah), the Talisker Players in Toronto for an evening of chamber music, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mendelssohn’s Elijah), the Elora Festival Orchestra (Verdi’s Requiem), Les Violons du Roy’s United States tour of (Haydn’s cantata Arianna a Naxos) , the Brooklyn Academy of Music (staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion) and the Oregon Symphony (Mozart Requiem). In recital, she has appeared with Ravinia Festival, Aldeburgh Connection, Music Toronto, Off Centre Music Salon and Music at Sharon. In addition, she has performed with Symphony Nova Scotia, Lanaudière Festival, Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestra London, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Esprit Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Canadian Art Song Project, Festival of the Sound, Grand Teton Festival Soundstreams, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Waterside Music Festival, Stratford Summer Music Festival and Indian River Festival.

Ms, Szabó has appeared on television featured in CBC’s “Opening Night” in concert with the Canadian Opera Company. On film, she can be seen as Zerlina with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Don Giovanni Revealed: Leporello’s Revenge, and she can be heard as the voice of Leanne in the new opera movie Burnt Toast. Krisztina Szabo can also be heard as a featured soloist in a recording with the Talisker Players “Where Words and Music Meet“, Musica Leopolis CDs works of Lysenko, Stetsenko, and Stepovyi (3 different CDs) and Singing Somers Theatre (the works of Harry Somers).

Ms. Szabó finished her postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario studying with Darryl Edwards, with whom she continues to study. She has been the recipient of the Emerging Artist grant from Canada Council and was recently honoured by her home town of Mississauga with a star on the Music Walk of Fame in its inaugural year. Krisztina lives in Toronto with her husband, Kristian Clarke and their daughter, Phoibe Clarke.

Krisztina Szabó photo by Bo Huang


 
LAWRENCE ZAZZO, COUNTERTENOR
The American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo is one of the most outstanding singers of his generation. A native of Philadelphia and a graduate in both English and Music from Yale University and King’s College, Cambridge, Lawrence made his operatic debut as Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream to great acclaim while completing his vocal studies at the Royal College of Music, London.

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He has since appeared in many of the world’s finest opera houses and concert halls. His opera roles include the title role in Giulio Cesare(Metropolitan OperaNew York, Paris, London, Brussels, Seville, Bilbao), the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo (Vienna, Toronto, Oslo, Netherlands), Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Rome, Lyon, Toronto), Farnace Mitridate (Munich), the title role in Radamisto (English National Opera), Arsamene Serse (Theatre des Champs-Elysees, English National Opera), Goffredo Rinaldo (Berlin Staatsoper, Zurich, Opéra de Montpellier); Ottone Agrippina (Brussels, Frankfurt, Theatre des Champs-Elysees), Endimione La Calisto (Munich, Brussels, Paris), Ottone L’incoronazione di Poppea (Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, Munich), Ruggiero in Orlando Furioso (Frankfurt), and the title roles in Handel’s Sosarme (Sao Carlos, Lisbon) and Alessandro(Karlsruhe).

Lawrence is also a keen advocate of 20th century and contemporary music. He created the role of Trinculo in Thomas Ades’ The Tempest at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and his Paris Opera debut was as Kreon in Liebermann’s Medea. He has also sung Sciarrino’s Luci mie traditrici in Brussels, New York, and Rouen, and is closely associated with the role of Mascha in Peter Eötvos’ Three Sisters which he has performed in several productions in Lyon, Brussels, Edinburgh, Vienna, and the Netherlands. He made his BBC Symphony Orchestra debut in their commission of Jonathan Dove’s Hojoki, sang the Refugee in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for the Glyndebourne Festival, and made his Wigmore recital debut with a programme of 20th-century American songs.

Lawrence has worked with many distinguished conductors in the fields of Baroque and contemporary music, including René Jacobs, William Christie, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Christophe Rousset, John Nelson, Ivor Bolton, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Hervé Niquet, Harry Bicket , Joshua Rifkin, Christopher Hogwood, Peter Eötvos, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Trevor Pinnock, Jordi Savall, Harry Christophers, and Paul Goodwin. He was the first western countertenor invited to China to sing Messiah at the Shanghai Opera. His international concert career highlights include: the title roles of Handel’s Lotario and Riccardo Primo with the Kammerorchester Basel in a European tour and recording with Paul Goodwin, Messiah with Rene Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchesterand in Notre Dame Cathedral with John Nelson and L’ensemble orchestrale de Paris, Bach Lutheran Masses under Joshua Rifkin in Leipzig, the St. Matthew Passion in Ambronay and Köthen with the Akademie für Alte Musik, the title role in Handel’s Amadigi with Christopher Hogwood and the AAM in London and Birmingham, the title role in Mozart’s Ascanio in Alba with the Berliner Symphoniker, Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominusand Gloriawith the Israel Camerata, the B Minor Mass with Ivor Bolton in Salzburg, Jephtha in Graz with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Theodora in Paris and Vienna with Hervé Niquet and Le concert spirituel, and Saul in Berlin and Lisbon with René Jacobs and Concerto Köln. An accomplished recitalist, he has given many around Europe, most recently at the Wigmore Hall, the Norwegian Opera, the Festival d’Opera Baroque de Beaune, the Rheinvokal Festival, the MA Festival Bruges, and the Vienna Konzerthaus.

 
ZACHARY WILDER, TENOR
Described as possessing a “remarkably clear, flexible lyric tenor,” and a “radiant tone,” Zachary Wilder is a much sought after performer on both the operatic and concert stage. He has performed with numerous groups internationally, including Ars Lyrica Houston, Back Bay Chorale, Blue Heron, Boston Early Music Festival, Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra, Camerata Ventepane, Cappella Mediterranea, Emmanuel Music,

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Ensemble Clematis, A Far Cry, Festival D’Aix en Provence, Green Mountain Project, Handel & Haydn Society, Harvard Baroque Orchestra, Houston Bach Society, les Arts Florissants, Mark Morris Dance Group, Mercury Orchestra, Pacific Musicworks, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Tenet Ensemble, and Tesserae. He was chosen by William Christie for the 2013 edition of Jardin des Voix, was named a Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow at Emmanuel Music, Adams Masterclass Fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival, a former Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as well as a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow. He can be heard on Boston Early Music Festival’s grammy nominated recording of Lully’s Psyché, as well as their recordings of Charpentier’s Actéon and John Blow’s Venus and Adonis on the CPO label.

Zachary Wilder photo by Orpheus Photography


 
MATTHEW BROOK, BASS-BARITONE
Matthew Brook is one of the country’s leading and most experienced bass-baritones. He has developed a world-wide reputation for his interpretation of the music of JS Bach and Handel, but his musical tastes stretch way beyond this period of music, often performing new compositions at major festivals and concert halls, and has performed on the operatic stages of Europe singing Weber, Mozart, Bizet, Chabrier, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bernstein and Monteverdi.

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Worldwide performances as a soloist and career highlights include working with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Richard Hickox, and orchestras such as the Philharmonia and London Symphony Orchestra.

Matthew has performed at many of Europe’s top festivals, including The Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms.

He has a long list of appearances in recordings of Bach and Handel, including the St Matthew and St John Passions and B Minor Mass for Linn records, many Bach Cantatas, and he recorded the Weinacht’s Oratorium last year with Stephen Layton and Hyperion. His other recordings of Handel include the Gramophone Award winning Messiah for Linn, a highly acclaimed Polyphemus from Acis and Galatea, Haman from Esther, and, for Virgins Classics Il Re from Ariodante with Joyce di Donato in the title role. There are future plans to release a recording of Jephtha with Harry Christophers later in 2014.

His DVD recording of the Matthew Passion with John Nelson from the St Denis Festival was released this year and the new Linn Records Mozart Requiem with John Butt has received much praise.

Matthew Brook photo by Richard Shymansky


 
ALEXANDER WEIMANN, MUSIC DIRECTOR
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as conductor of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra Vancouver, and as music director of Les Voix Baroques, Le Nouvel Opéra and Tempo Rubato.

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Recently, he has conducted the Montreal based baroque orchestra Ensemble Arion, Les Violons du Roy, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra Oregon; both the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra have regularly invited him as their featured soloist. In the last years, he has explored new shores by repeatedly conducting the Victoria Symphony (f.i. with pieces by and around the adolescent Mozart, including his piano concerto Jeunehomme) and also Symphony Nova Scotia, most recently with Handel’s “Messiah”.

After working as an assistant conductor at the Amsterdam, Basel, and Hamburg opera houses, he has directed productions of Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona with the Freiburger Barockorchester; Pepusch’s Beggar’s Opera at the Castle Theatre in Gotha, Handel’s Orlando Furioso and Stradella’s Moro per Amore at the Teamtheater in Munich; Telemann’s Passion oratorio Seliges Erwägen at the Europäische Wochen festival at Passau; Caldara’s Clodoveo and the multipart opera event Mozart à Milano, both of which were Canadian-German co-productions mounted at festivals in Montreal and Vancouver, and at the Sanssouci Palace Theatre in Potsdam; and, for the Vancouver Early Music Festival, Handel’s Resurrezione , Rameau’s Pygmalion, Purcell’s Fairy Queen and King Arthur, the celebrated 2010 performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers, and 2012′s Orlando by Handel.

Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs and, frequently, on the radio in many countries. He made his North American recording debut with the ensemble Tragicomedia on the CD Capritio (Harmonia Mundi USA), and won worldwide acclaim from both the public and critics for his 2001 release of Handel’s Gloria (on the Canadian label Atma Classique). Volume 1 of his recordings of the complete keyboard works by Alessandro Scarlatti appeared in May 2005. Critics around the world unanimously praised it, and in the following year it was nominated for an Opus prize as the best Canadian early-music recording. In 2007, his recording of Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu with the Montreal-based ensemble Les Voix Baroques won an Opus prize, and was nominated for a Juno Classic Award. The same year, he recorded Caldara’s oratorio Clodoveo (also nominated for the Juno), and both conducted and performed as fortepiano soloist with the German ensemble Echo du Danube in the first recording of concertos by Wagenseil. In 2008 he added to his solo outings by recording Bach’s Clavierübung II, and revisiting his first love, the organ, with the release of Alessandro Scarlatti’s keyboard works, Volume 2. (The last volume 3, harpsichord again, to be published soon.) Recently, he also released an Opus award winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with superstar soprano Karina Gauvin and his new Montreal based ensemble Tempo Rubato, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, various albums with Les Voix Baroques on Buxtehude, Carissimi and Purcell, all of the above with raving reviews; his latest album with Karina Gauvin and Arion Baroque Orchestra (“Prima donna”) won the Juno 2013; a complete recording of Handel’s Orlando will be released in the summer of 2013, with an exciting group of international star soloists and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra performing.

Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, medieval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships for the highly talented. In addition to his studies, he has attended numerous master classes in harpsichord and historical performance. To ground himself further in the roots of western music, he became intensively involved, over the course of several years, with Gregorian chant. In 1997, his group Le Nuove Musiche won first prize at the Premio Bonporti music competition in Rovereto, Italy.

From 1990 to 1995, Weimann taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and also at North American universities such as Berkeley (University of California), Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill in Montreal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007 he has been conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. For half a decade, he has been teaching early music performance practice to voice and instrumental students at the Université de Montréal, as well as conducting the Baroque opera programme, for example, in the celebrated Monteverdi’s Poppea. Singers of note, such as those with the Atélier Lyrique Montréal and other opera studios, seek his services as a vocal coach. Substituting Hank Knox who will take a sabbatical in 2013/14, he will teach the harpsichord class at McGill University.

Alexander Weimann lives with his wife, 3 children and pets in Montreal, and tries to spend as much time as possible in his garden and kitchen.

Alexander Weimann photo by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

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