Oko Baroquo’s Carole Ruth on violin, Jim Leonard on continuo organ, Leslie Uhlig on flute, and Cuyler Page on Baroque oboe perform at the Early Music Okanagan concert at All Saints Anglican Church April 1.

From Bach to Telemann: EMO presents Music for Easter

Take a musical trip from the medieval to the baroque periods with Early Music Okanagan

Early Music Okanagan (EMO) promises a musical trip from the medieval to the baroque periods with its upcoming concert series in Vernon, Kamloops, and Kelowna.

Entitled Music for Easter, the program includes several beloved vocal and instrumental masterpieces, as well as some rarely heard gems, said the concert’s producer Natalia Polchenko.

“A variety of styles will keep the audience engaged and entertained,” she said. “It has become an EMO tradition to include the sung texts with English translation into the programs, which adds an additional level of the audience’s immersion in the music.”

Polchenko says it is difficult for her to single out any one piece of music in the program, but if she had to she would pick three: the Stabat Mater, J.S. Bach’s Easter music, written at two different times in his life, and Telemann’s Easter Cantata.

A profoundly moving poem, Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It portrays the suffering of Mary at the crucifixion of her son, said Polchenko.

“Written by Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi in the 13th century, it remains one of the most popular texts for musical interpretation and has been set to music by approximately 600 composers.”

EMO will present four different versions of the Stabat Mater: plain chant (also known as Gregorian chant), early and later Renaissance polyphony by Pedro de Escobar (1500), Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (1640), and the Baroque masterpiece by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1736).

“By listening to how composers of different eras were interpreting the same text, the audience will be able to see how music styles were changing throughout time,” said Polchenko.

Audiences will also be able to hear whether a composer’s style changed over time with both the youthful exuberance and the mature style of Bach’s cantata.

“They will be able to hear the difference between his earliest church cantata Christ lag in Todes Banden, written when he was 23 years old, and his epic St. Matthew Passion, composed 20 years later,” said Polchenko.

This year marks 250 years since the death of one of the most prolific composers of all time, Telemann. He wrote more than 3,000 compositions during his long productive life, said Polchenko.

“During his lifetime, he was more famous and popular than his friend, J.S. Bach,” she said.

EMO will commemorate the anniversary of Telemann’s death by performing one of his Easter cantatas, Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt.

“It was written for the first day of Easter, and reflects the celebratory mood of the season,” said Polchenko. “It is scored for tenor and a small ensemble, hence its light, intimate, almost chamber quality. It is expertly performed by Vernon’s own remarkable tenor Paul Moore.”

EMO has also assembled a group of Interior musician to join them.

Kamloops-based violinist Cvetozar Vutev, who has performed in numerous solo, chamber, symphony and opera performances across Europe, Korea, Japan and Canada, will perform his interpretation of J.S. Bach’s solo violin music (from Sonata #1) and will also join Vernon’s period music ensemble Oko Baroquo for several pieces.

Penticton soprano Tracy Fehr, who is an EMO regular and early music specialist, will also perform, along with a cappella group Inspirati Chorale, another EMO regular and a local favourite, who will showcase medieval and renaissance choral music.

The April 1 concert at Vernon’s All Saints Anglican Church starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $27 and $25 for seniors at ticketseller.ca , 250-549-7469.