BachVancouver Chamber Choir
Bach Mass in B Minor - Ultimate Baroque

Date and Venue 29 March 2013, 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Jon Washburn

Featured Performers VCC and Pacifica Singers.Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Brett Polegato, bass; Shannon Mercer, soprano; Allyson McHardy, alto.

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Excruciating is perhaps the term that best describes Bach's Mass concert. Not only were the seats at the Orpheum balcony level uncomfortable, but Bach who, I suppose wrote this during his anguished moments of Good Friday, rendered a difficult composition for a high mass reflecting the Passion and Death of Christ.

As a Catholic growing up in a Jesuit school, I've always felt the same anguish Bach and all Catholics go through when they go through a High Mass. Not only is it long and tedious, it is also a reflection of the many rituals Cathlics go through all through their lives.

I found, however, Washburn's conducting excellent, as is always the case. His programmes have always been admirable. However, when you render a difficult composition, there's a mixed feeling that goes through the audience. Moments of low despair, then high anxiety with the"Gloria", and the prayerful "Kyrie Eleison" and "Agnus Dei". Then there's the eclectic highs and lows of the "Credo".

Pacifica Singers and the VCC singers did a good job. With regard to the soloists, Tenor Lawrence Wiliford stood out, as well as Alto Allyson McHardy. Bass Brett Polegato was almost inaudible, while Soprano Shannon Mercer was more emotional than technical in her singing, bopping her head back and forth, quite distracting, sometimes.

I briefly chatted with Toronto-based Wiliford during the reception, and he was relieved to have two weeks off, but then will be busy with recitals in Ontario and later with Elijah in Colorado.

© 2013 Ed Farolan