Christmas at the time of Bach

Celebrating Christmas, this may mean, for some, to commune with the sacredness of the moment. What the Ensemble Caprice de Montréal will offer, by performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio”.
The Caprice Ensemble has an international reputation, having made several tours on almost every continent – only Australia has not yet received its visit. The set was created 30 years ago by Matthias Maute, originally from Germany and arrived in Quebec 20 years ago. Co-artistic director with her companion, Sophie Larivière, he is also a renowned conductor and flutist, like Ms. Larivière. Both teach in high-level music schools.

“Caprice has given 55 concerts in 2019 on four continents. We travel a lot, our whole is very active. Our mission is to make our music shine all over the world, “says Maute.

And an oratorio, what is it? In its simplest form, it is a story told in classical music. A dramatic lyric work.

“It is close to the cantata and the opera, but in more sober, without costumes, nor decorations, delivered by an orchestra, thus without the artifices of the theater. ”

This musical form was born in the XVII th century, but was popularized in the XVIII th , with very well-known works as The Passion according to St. Matthew by JS Bach and The Messiah by Handel. Bach did not hesitate to use the same music for religious and other secular stories. Even Paul McCartney created an oratorio, titled Oratorio of Liverpool , in 1991.

“We use instruments of the time, adapted to the sound that the composer wanted to produce: wooden flutes, oboes with fewer keys, Baroque violins, shorter bows. For flutes, the sound is less strong and focused on articulation, so the transmission of words, “summarizes Mr. Maute.

Controversial Bach

The Ensemble Caprice’s roadmap has several prestigious pages, filled with countless entries at important music festivals and numerous nominations for the best concerts of early, baroque or Renaissance music, the best records and shows, etc., both at ADISQ and the Opus Awards, but also at the Montreal Grand Prix, etc.

The Ensemble even won a Juno Award in 2009, for its CD Gloria! Vivaldi and her angels! , and three Opus Awards from the Conseil québécois de la musique. The Echo Klassik Prize in Germany has also nominated him, as well as the famous Gramophone Magazine , which has praised his CD Telemann and Baroque Gypsies . Ensemble Caprice already has 20 discs produced by Analekta.

“The Arts-Québec Vocal Ensemble collaborates with Ensemble Caprice. It provides soloists and choir, depending on the situation, and it has been in existence for 40 years. We have a lot of experience and traditions together. I lead both sets as artistic director. It makes things easier. On stage, we will have 38 musicians and singers, with great pomp “, continues Matthias Maute, visibly passionate.

“The Christmas Oratorio is designed for six performances over six days. Six different cantatas that speak of the birth of Jesus, from New Year’s Day to the visit of the Magi. We are going to make only four, for a show of two hours. ”

“Bach is now better known than when he was alive,” continues Mathias Maute. He was less popular than Telemann. But his style was more complex, with harmonies that could not be sung. It was controversial and did not always make friends. But he was a scholar of composition, because of his richness in music. He was less loved for his lack of naturalness. But his music makes several voices speak at the same time, while among other composers it was one at a time. Bach has a more complex speech, but we still understand it anyway. He has exceeded the limits of his time. Three hundred years later, he still touches us. ”

The tour of the regions

Mr. Maute finds important the passage of Ensemble Caprice to Lac-Mégantic.

“This is a project where the Mégantic Cultural Committee and the Town of Lac-Mégantic are investing with us. For this third year of our choral and orchestra tour in Quebec, we are touring the regions, not just the big cities, to offer Quebecers a large-scale classical music. We want to give the citizens of Quebec the splendor of this music. ”

The musician likes to work on what he calls big projects with his wife Sophie. “Our office is in our house, so we spend a lot of time working on Ensemble Caprice! ”

A new CD is in preparation for release in February, while a new tour will begin at the same time, with an opera by Vivaldi: Motezuma .

You want to go?

The Christmas Oratorio of J.-S. Bach
Ensemble Caprice and Ensemble Vocals Arts-Québec
Friday, December 13, 8 pm
Salle Montignac, Lac-Mégantic
Admission: $ 37 (students: $ 24)

At the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (MBAS), the story Nutcracker will be presented by Les Avaleurs d’étoiles to children aged 3 to 7 and their moms and dads on Saturday, December 7 at 10 am through shadow and puppet theater. Admission is $ 9 for children 12 years and under, $ 13 for adults 13 and over, but there is also a family rate ($ 38 for four tickets). More information on the MBAS website.

Everyone loves to be enchanted by Christmas stories, and that’s what the Sherbrooke Opera and Concert House will offer, which caught Mother Christmas flying for an afternoon of tales while music. A string trio will accompany the reading of the venerable old lady, who will be assisted by her elves. Exceptionally, the entrance fee will be the same for all ages, $ 10. See you on Saturday, December 7th at 3 pm at Trinity Plymouth Church. Author of one of the stories presented, Anny Arseneault will play the role of Mother Christmas, while the elves will be incarnated by students of Sacred Heart School.

Want to relive the Christmas of yesteryear, at a time when we only had a candle? Traditional candlelight concerts offer this opportunity on Saturday, December 7 at 8 pm at Saint-Michel Cathedral. The Ensemble Ambitus, composed of Isabelle Bouchard and Caroline Laurent on violins, Dillon Archer on viola and David Bouchard on cello, has prepared a program including Ave Maria, the suite for orchestra ballet The Nutcracker, the Handel’s Hallelujah, Midnight, Christian, Drum Child, Greensleeves and Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Night Concerto … Entrance: $ 30.

If you hurry up, maybe you’ll have the chance to get your hands on one of the more than 100 tickets left for the Christmas Show, a song tradition, on Friday, December 13th at Maurice-O’Bready Hall. This means that already 1400 people have made an appointment with Brigitte Boisjoli, Marie-Michèle Desrosiers, Christian-Marc Gendron, Marie-Denise Pelletier, Nathalie Simard, Marie-Elaine Thibert and Yoan to hear the best known Christmas tunes. . You are now warned! Entry: $ 57. Steve Bergeron

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