If you’re one of the more than 800 subscribers to White Rock Concerts 2015-2016 season – already long sold-out, with a waiting list – you don’t really have to be told how lucky you are.
But a reminder of the launch of the new season (Sept. 25, 8 p.m. White Rock Baptist Church, 1657 140 St.) reiterates an important point.
With all respect to the church – which has provided a friendly venue for classical concerts for years – the subscription series’ continuing success offers irrefutable evidence of just how urgently Surrey, particularly South Surrey, needs a dedicated concert hall to complement its sports and recreational facilities.
It shows just how willing the population is – and always has been – to support topflight classical music – a testament to longtime artistic director George Zukerman, OC, OBC, and his passion to challenge, educate and grow the local audience for the past six decades.
Sadly the upcoming season – his 61st – will be his last in the role (he wound down his career as an internationally-celebrated bassoon virtuoso a few years ago).
The special season opener is also a reminder that, while he’s stepping down, he’s leaving the series in good hands – the world-renowned Bergmann Piano Duo – also known as Peninsula residents Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann.
They’ll be in the spotlight, accompanied by a chamber orchestra of Vancouver Opera musicians, in a something-for-everyone program spanning the Baroque and Romantic eras and winding up in the Jazz Age.
“It’s a double-barrelled occasion for White Rock Concerts – we’re not only presenting a pair of splendid artists, but also our new artistic directors, as of the 2016-17 season,” Zukerman told Peace Arch News this week.
The husband and wife team – described by the Calgary Herald as “a piano duo of extraordinary keyboard skills and of the first order of impeccable musicianship” will bring their magical touch to J.S. Bach’s Concerto in C minor for 2 keyboards.
Baroque will meet 19th century romanticism in Johannes Brahms’ Variations on a theme of Joseph Haydn, while the pair will pay tribute to the genius of Mozart with a performance of his Concerto in E-flat major for two pianos.
Rounding out the concert will be a bravura version of George Gershwin’ s 1928 tone poem, An American in Paris.
Described as artists who present “razzle-dazzle” and “electrifyingly rendered” recitals, the Bergmanns have touched and inspired audiences with their uniquely eclectic programs for more than two decades.
In addition to their performing careers, they enjoy teaching and act as Directors at the Langley Community Music School and serve as lecturers and jury members of International competitions.
Committed to supporting the production of new repertoire, the duo has commissioned and premiered several works by Canadian composers. Their extensive repertoire includes numerous of their own arrangements and compositions.
The Sept. 25 concert is just the first of seven in this year’s concert series, Zukerman said.
Other events include Ensemble Caprice [music of the 16th and 17th centuries] and their Sasla Baroque program (Oct. 23); men’s choir, Chor Leoni (Nov. 13); Concertante – wind soloists with an orchestra conducted by Les Dala (Jan. 15); The Vogler String Quartet with pianist Ian Parker (Feb. 19)
Also coming up will be an early Handel Opera, Apollo e Dafne, (Mar. 17), and the brilliant Hungarian virtuoso ‘cellist, Istvan Vardai, with orchestral accompaniment (April 8).
“It’s another great season,” Zukerman said. “And it’s notable for the fact that three of the programs feature orchestral players.
“The City of Vancouver is badly in need of a chamber orchestra, and we’re hoping to develop an ensemble that could serve as the nucleus of that,” he added.
“So the series is taking on a slightly different direction for the future.”
The Bergmanns have also performed in recital and with orchestras throughout Europe and North America, including recent appearances at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and in Marcel Bergmann’s home city of Munich.
The duo studied with Arie Vardi at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hannover and with Jean-Eudes Vaillancourt at the Université de Montréal. They received first prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Caltanissetta, Italy, and were laureates of the fourth Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. They performed extensively in Germany as members of the young artists’ roster of Yehudi Menuhin-Live Music Now.
From 2009-2013, Marcel was professor of music at Mohawk College in Hamilton. Elizabeth and Marcel have been on faculty at Mount Royal University and University of Calgary as well as being involved in various musical projects at The Banff Centre for the Arts.
They have recorded numerous CDs including a Naxos disc of the two piano music of William Bolcom, which BBC Music Magazine described as “delicious take-offs of Latin –American salon music, plus ragtime and cakewalk pieces.”
Further information is available at www.whiterockconcerts.com