Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

French composers highlighted in Bach on the Rock concert

Bach on the Rock (BOTR) Chamber Orchestra and Choir has a treat for its audience on Saturday, Nov. 6 after not performing in concert for almost two years. 

The group will present an evening of sacred and secular music of 17th and 18th-century France titled “L’église et le théâtre” at Fulford Hall. Music begins at 7 p.m. Patrons must provide proof of double vaccination and wear masks.

“The idea was born while I was still living in Europe,” explained Marco Vitale, who is the artistic director for the concert on a guest basis.

Vitale is an early music specialist, harpsichordist, organist, fortepiano player and conductor who has recently moved to Victoria.

Vitale said work by French composers seemed to be a repertoire gap for BOTR that he wanted to fill.

“The music is so beautiful and so close to the human heart. It will be very great to do it here.”

Interestingly, he said, the border between music composed for the church and the theatre in France is not as strict as one would imagine.

One of the program works is Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass), which is based on old French Christmas carols still heard today. Variations written by Richard de Lalande and Michel Corrette will also be played.

“The French carol tradition is very strong,” said Vitale. “As strong as it is for England.”

The second part of the program will feature music from the French theatre. In addition to works by Jean-Baptiste Lully, the group will perform selections from the opera Alcyone by Marin Maris. 

Based on the myth of Alcyone and Ceyx, the work contains well-known dances that were made famous by Jordi Savall and his Le Concert des Nations, of which Vitale is a member.

“It’s for sure the first time it will be performed in B.C.,” he said of the Maris opera pieces.

Vitale said he fell in love with B.C. after participating in a Denman Island baroque workshop and festival in 2017. Coincidentally, he acquired the position of music director at St. Barnabas church in Victoria just as BOTR was searching for a new director to replace Michael Jarvis, who died suddenly in December of 2020. The plan is for each concert this season to have a different director, with Vitale being the first. 

Tickets for the Nov. 6 concert are available at Mondo Trading Company or online at

Fans of the annual Sing-along Messiah will be glad to hear that the tradition will return with an afternoon concert on Sunday, Nov. 28 at Fulford Hall, directed by Don Conley. Details and tickets are also available from the group’s website

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