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Top ten must-see concerts and events in Vancouver

October 23, 2011

For this week’s post I’ve decided to put together a list of the ten arts events that I would most like to attend this season. This may be the most purely selfish post I will include on this blog all term – but it was a lot of fun to put together and it will definitely help me to organize my arts attendance schedule! I hope you enjoy my selections and perhaps even choose to attend some of these fantastic arts events, too. I would love to hear which of these events you also plan to attend or which ones you plan to attend that are not on my list. We are very fortunate to have a thriving arts and culture scene in Vancouver, despite the recent cuts over the past few years. It’s always great to get out there and support performances and exhibits.

The events below are listed in chronological order:

1. Hiroshima at the Museum of Anthroplogy |UBC –  On now until February 12, 2012
This powerful exhibit features 48 photographs by Ishiuchi Miyako of clothing and accessories left behind by victims of the 1945 atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The items on display are a stark reminder of the incredible loss of humanity in this tragic event. This is the North American premiere of the exhibit, even though it has been presented around Japan and even turned into a book; it has not been displayed in the U.S. due to the emotionally-charged subject matter. In addition to the exhibit at MOA, a number of other events are taking place around town to support it – including a choral concert featuring Larry Nickel’s Requiem for Peace at the Chan Centre by the Vancouver Chamber Choir on November 19th.

2. Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver at the Museum of Vancouver – On now until August 12, 2012
This exhibit caught my eye after reading an article about it in The Georgia Straight. I have had every intention of checking out the MOV for some time now and this exhibit seems like a great way to get started. Featuring some of the old neon signs that used to be prominently displayed in and around Vancouver, it is guaranteed to be a kitschy, free-for-all and a unique way to look back at Vancouver’s history.

3. Daniel Müller-Schott plays Shostakovich with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre – October 29 and 31, 2011
It would be wrong to not include a VSO performance on my list as I am sure this will be just one of several symphony concerts that I will attend this season. I first heard Daniel Müller-Schott perform as part of the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival many years ago when I was working as a volunteer usher – a position I took just to get free tickets to hear the best chamber music in town! I found his playing to be incredibly moving and remarkable. For his performance with the VSO, he will perform Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2.

4. Kronos Quartet with Special Guest Homayun Sakhi Trio at the Chan Centre |UBC – November 5, 2011
This could be interpreted as a shameless plug of one of my own concerts except that I genuinely love the Kronos Quartet and would make a point of hearing them perform wherever they are playing in town! This San Francisco-based string quartet is known for their vast repertoire of new music and for always pushing the boundaries of musical presentation. In this concert they team up with an Afghani trio to present a new work by famed rubab player, Homayun Sakhi in what is sure to be an incredible collaboration. I have such great memories of attending Kronos events over the last decade since I have been working at the Chan, I’m sure this concert won’t disappoint!

5. From Heaven Came by musica intima at Christ Church Cathedral – December 16, 2011
musica intima is one of my favourite local chamber choirs. Vancouver has numerous, exceptional choirs; however, intima is unique in that they operate as a collective without a single artistic director. This model keeps the focus on the musicians and also keeps the direction fresh and new with each concert. I chose this specific concert for this list as it is an annual tradition for me to attend their Christmas concert. It is one of the ways I like to mark the season – with a beautiful, shimmering choral performance on a cold, wintery evening. (Ideally followed up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate!). I know that musica intima’s Christmas concert will never disappoint and will always put me into a festive mood.

6. La La La Human Steps at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts – January 21 and 22, 2012
I am a huge fan of DanceHouse which is a fairly new addition to Vancouver’s arts and culture scene in the past couple of years. DanceHouse presents large, international dance companies – a task that is no doubt very daunting considering the costs associated with these sorts of productions. I should’ve bought a subscription to this series but it is always a challenge for me to commit to one season when I already have my own season at work plus a number of other performances to work around. However, I will definitely try to book some single tickets to a couple of their performances. La La La is one of the performances that I really do not want to miss. They are a phenomenal company from Montréal who so rarely make an appearance in Vancouver. I don’t even care what they are doing – I just don’t want to miss this performance!

7. Eve Egoyan plays Simple Lines of Enquiry at Heritage Hall on Main Street – January 23 and 24, 2012
The PuSh Festival is one of my favourite presenters of new music and theatre. This annual mid-winter festival takes place in multiple venues around the city (including a performance of Noche Flamenca at the Chan Centre on January 21st!) and collaborates with numerous presenters. In this case, they are collaborating with another local presenter, Music on Main. I am eager to check out this solo piano performance by Eve Egoyan featuring a work by Ann Southam entitled, Simple Lines of Enquiry. Both the PuSh Festival and Music on Main rarely disappoint in the new music genre so I am eager to support another one of their collaborations.

8. Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet at The Playhouse – February 5, 2012
The Vancouver Recital Society is arguably the best presenter of classical recitals in Western Canada. They regularly present phenomenal artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Reneé Fleming, Murray Perahia and other famous string players, pianists and vocalists in venues all over Vancouver. It is exceedingly rare for them to present a trumpeter, though. As an orchestral trumpet player myself, I realize that this recital is a fantastic, not-to-be-missed opportunity to see this incredibly talented performer in our local market.

9. Turning Point Ensemble in Jump for Joy! at Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre | SFU Woodwards – April 1, 2012
The Turning Point Ensemble is a fantastic local new music group that performs a number of unique concerts each season. This concert is another dream for a trumpet player as it features compositions by both jazz trumpeters, Dave Douglas and Brad Turner, alongside works by Stravinsky and Ellington (arranged by another local trumpeter, Alan Matheson). The music will explore the connections between jazz and classical music in the early 20th century.

10. Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Svengali at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts – April 20 – 22, 2012
Ballet BC presents this blow out event featuring Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Vancouver. This time they feature a dark, psychologically complex mind-control drama about a repressed artist, Svengali, who escapes his mother’s controlling dance studio only to entrap another dancer who ultimately grows more powerful than his grasp. I’m sure it will be a mesmerizing performance full of excellent choreography.


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