Festival Program

As always, the Festival’s Artistic Director, Marc Destrubé, has selected a broad palette of music for the Festival audience’s annual journey of discovery.

Tickets available Online and in selected outlets
Festival Pass: $100 (Adults); $80 (Seniors/Students)


Order and Disorder
Thursday, 15 February  11am: Alix Goolden Performance Hall, 907 Pandora Ave, Victoria V8V 3N4
Marc Destrubé & Chantal Rémillard – violins, Natalie Mackie – viola da gamba, Michael Jarvis – harpsichord)
Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Seniors/Students
Ticket holders are invited for complimentary coffee beginning at 10am.

The Festival welcomes Montreal violinist Chantal Rémillard to perform with Festival Director Marc Destrubé several of the extraordinary Sonatas for two violins by Couperin’s younger contemporary Jean-Marie Leclair, often described as the ‘’Corelli of France”.  Rémillard’s and Destrubé’s earlier ATMA recording of Leclair’s Sonatas received high praise:

 “Chantal Rémillard and Marc Destrubé demonstrate brilliant playing, remarkable cohesion and a luminous sonority: their skilled interpretation makes the music sparkle”
Frédéric Cardin, La Scena Musicale

 “Destrubé and Rémillard’s luminescent dialogues are so coherent that the listener feels privileged to overhear them. The players are so honest and unreserved together that anyone can instantly hear the musical intimacy in operation here and marvel at it.”
– John Keillor, The Georgia Straight

It has been said that Couperin painted his world through his music.  The titles of his harpsichord works suggest he is applying personal brush-strokes to this canvas. There is great debate over the origin of the title of the renowned ‘Les Barricades Mysterieuses’, while another work ‘Les fastes de la grande et anciénne Mxnxstrxndxsx’ clearly refers to the powerful Paris Guild “La Ménestrandise” which attempted to prevent Couperin and other harpsichordists from teaching their instrument. There will be little doubt that Festival favourite, Michael Jarvis, will cleverly express Couperin’s wishes.

As one of Louis XIV’s favorite instruments, the viola da gamba took on a courtly and French identity. It is thus appropriate that Natalie Mackie will perform the elegant music of Marin Marais, a master of the viol and one of the leading composers for the instrument. 

“Couperin’s music gives an oddly subtle impression of being simultaneously of his world, and not of it; just as the world of Watteau’s pictures is simultaneously of the real world, and a golden, idealized, never-never land of the spirit.” – Wilfred Mellers

 “François Couperin’s ‘Les Barricades Mystérieuses’ has fascinated, enthralled, and inspired performers and listeners for centuries, and not just because of its enigmatic title. What on earth are those mysterious barricades? Masks (and indeed masques), freemasonry, theories of harmony of melody – they’ve all been put forward as the solution to the mystery. (The title is also the source for ex-Police guitarist Andy Summers’s 2009 album.) But any definitive answer is as enigmatic and elusive as the music of this little rondeau, part of the Sixiéme Ordre of Couperin’s Pièces pour Clavecin, published in 1716–17.” – Tom Service writing in The Guardian

See the complete concert program

The Perfection of Music
Thursday, 15 February  8pm: Christ Church Cathedral, Quadra at Rockland, Victoria V8V 4X1
Alex Weimann – organ, Victoria Children’s Choir
Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Seniors/Students
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm.

Couperin was as much at home in organ loft as in royal apartments. His court appointment required him to provide music for Louis XIV at his chapel in Versailles for the first three months of each year, then return to Paris where he continued a succession of Couperins that held the post of organist at the church of Saint-Gervais for 173 years (1653-1826).

Although not in any way pompous, Couperin’s church music is marked by a solemn stateliness, reflecting the demands the demands of the court and the tastes of and elderly Louis XIV who appreciated order, serenity, and restraint above all else. Both of Couperin’s organ masses are considered amongst his indisputable masterpieces. In their performance of one of these rarely performed masses, the esteemed baroque specialist Alexander Weimann (organ) and the voices of alumni from the Victoria Children’s Choir will reveal a religious experience of ‘intimate spirituality, purity of feeling and sense of wonder’.

Alex Weimann

This evening’s program includes Francois Couperin’s Messe à l’usage ordinaires des Paroisses pour les Festes Solemnelles, Louis Couperin’s Fantaisie sur le Cromhorne, Fantaisie des Duretez and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Pièce d’Orgue, BWV 572.

“Just as there is a great distance between grammar and rhetoric, there is also an infinite distance between fingering charts and fine playing.” – François Couperin



See the complete concert program


In the Gilded Cage – an evening in the royal chapel and chambers
Friday, 16 February  8pm: Alix Goolden Performance Hall, 907 Pandora Ave, Victoria V8V 3N4
Hélène Brunet & Catherine Webster – sopranos, Marc Destrubé & Chantal Rémillard – violins, Natalie Mackie – viola da gamba, Michael Jarvis – harpsichord
Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Seniors/Students
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm.

“With an almanach and a watch, one could, from 300 leagues away, say with accuracy what he was doing”.  – Duke Saint-Simon

Louis XIV’s day ran like clockwork, to a schedule that was just as strictly ordered as life in the Court. Musical activity at Versailles was an essential component of each day, and included, aside from lavish operatic productions, intimate chamber music in the royal chambers, and solemn music in the Chapelle Royale.

Distant from the exciting musical developments of Paris, music at Versailles, which had once been in the firm grip of Jean-Baptiste Lully, reflected the King ’s personal tastes, perpetuating the traditions of French music while keeping out foreign influences, notably from Italy. Couperin grew up in the French classical tradition of the court’s music, absorbing its forms and styles; but he also spent most of the year in Paris where he encountered the Italian influence on French music. 

This concert’s program will include Couperin’s sumptuous trio sonata L’Impériale, and a performance of one of the masterpieces of French baroque music, his surviving three Leçons des Ténèbres, for two sopranos, viola da gamba and basso continuo.

“A few years ago I composed three Tenebrae Lessons for Good Friday at the request of the nuns of L[ongchamps], where they were sung with success” – Francois Couperin

See the complete concert program


From Chaos to Sublime Beauty
Saturday, 17 February  8pm: Alix Goolden Performance Hall, 907 Pandora Ave, Victoria V8V 3N4
Hélène Brunet & Catherine WebsterBenjamin Butterfield – teno, Nathan McDonald- bass Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Seniors/Students
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm.

“With regard to my pieces, the new and diverse characteristics have led to their being received favourably in the world.” – Francois Couperin

The court of Louis XIV introduced to the world the grand opera-ballet, a lavish production featuring dancers, singers, special effects and a fine orchestra. Jean-Féry Rebel performed in the orchestra, and also composed the highly original Les Élémens, ‘sinfonie’ describing the beginning of the world. Rebel, as a violinist at court would have also performed the theatre music of his contemporaries, Marais and Rameau, and the sublime Grand Motets composed by his fellow-violinist and musical innovator Jean-Joseph de Mondonville for performance in the Royal Chapel.

The Italian influence on French music was a subject of great intellectual debate in Couperin’s age, and the composer united the two styles in his music. Couperin believed that music could be ‘perfected’ through the union of both French and Italian styles.

 “Thanks to his mastery of both orchestral and vocal music, Mondonville brought to the grand motet—the dominant genre of music in the repertory of the Chapelle royale …an intensity of colour and a dramatic quality hitherto unknown.” (Wikipedia)

See the complete concert program


Choral Evensong: The Beauty of Genius
Sunday, 18 February  4:30pm: Christ Church Cathedral, Quadra at Rockland,
Victoria V8V 4X1
St Christopher Singers, Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble
Voluntary offerings

The Festival concludes with its usual special Choral Evensong Service which this year features music composed for the female voice by François Couperin as well as an earlier court composer, Henri Du Mont.  The Service also includes a premiere performance of a ‘Nunc Dimittis’ by Jean-Joseph Mouret, transcribed for the Festival from the original score.  Completing the music will be Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s beautifully crafted sacred work, his ‘Stabat mater’.

“Something we look forward to brighten the dark and dreamy days of February.”