Early Music Vancouver’s Fauré With Lots of Juice

Vancouver has an active early music scene. Its summer Back Festival is getting a lot of notice around the world.

“Give me some juice, I will gladly take it”.

Music Director Leslie Dala to organist Christina Hutten

A quick perusal of Thursday’s Early Music Vancouver concert of the Bach Festival (at the end of this blog), an all French 19th and 20th century programme, may seem at odds with the theme of the festival.

To me it makes sense as I am aware that there is a most likely explanation if one considers the joint discovery of the calculus by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Their finding of the infinitesimal means that I could pour some hard liquor (the type that my friend Martin Auclair, the bass singer in this program, uses sparingly to aid in keeping his low notes) into any BC lake and within time, easily calculated by the Calculus, one could determine the presence of the liquor on the other side of the lake. In the same way there are 95 years between the death of Bach and birth of Gabriel Fauré. Surely there would be the presence, and influence of Bach on Fauré?

I will diverge from the above by mentioning Vancouver Sun gossip columnist Malcolm Parry who guides what he does by the concept of the “privileged position”. You can look down from a high building but never, if you have any class look up. Anybody can be present at a rock concert but a few can be backstage. And so with me yesterday Tuesday at a rehearsal of the Fauré at Christ Church Cathedral I was up in the balcony with organist Christina Hutten and I was privy to stuff that will not be noticed or known by concertgoers on Thursday night. I feel quite smug about it.

I watched Hutten step on the 16 Hz pedal quite a few times during the Fauré. Being next to the pipes made that sound all that more striking.

The organist at the Cathedral faces the organ and not the stage/altar. In order for her to see the director, Leslie Dala she has a mirror standing on the instrument. But there is a time lapse between her seeing Dala’s hands and her playing. There is the added problem that Hutten has to deal with complex organ boxes besides reading the music.

The solution was to bring music director Kathleen Allan to mimic Dala’s conducting upstairs by the organ. Without having to look at her, Hutten was able to play the music in unison with the choir below.

This was most interesting for me as I have attended two performances, in my past of Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question in which two conductors are used!

While Fauré’s work is usually played with an orchestra there is another form of it in which just an organ is used. That Fauré was the organist at La Madeleine makes that quite appropriate if you consider Hutten’s sheer virtuosity.

I was surprised to see Rebecca Whitling with her violin upstairs. This violinist not only plays for the Vancouver Symphony but for the avant-garde Standing Wave. In the Sanctus, the third section of Fauré’s 7 section Requiem she plays on her instrument. Behind her I could hardly hear it but below, thanks to the unusually good acoustics it was loud and clear below.

To cap all the privileged stuff I was able to discern on the balcony, baritone Sumner Thompson, wearing shorts, and soprano Danielle Sampson each sang solos.

Kathleen Allan & Sumner Thompson

The quote by Leslie Dala in the beginning of this blog has a likely explanation. Dala is of Hungarian heritage. During the two-hour rehearsal he wanted drama and sometimes sound volume from the choir and the organist.

The seventh section Paradisum did not sound to me like a body was being taken out a church slowly! It had some lovely touches with the organ (subtle juice) that was lively and happy. My Wikipedia search of Paradisum gave me this:

It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticised for its inclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist’s nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different

Sitting with Kathleen Allan she told me (and this was true for me, too) if we looked at bass singer Martin Auclair, standing on the second row of the huge choir, she could hear him!

Fauré Requiem

Thursday August 1, 2019 | 7:30PM (Pre-concert talk at 6:45PM)

Christ Church Cathedral | Map

Leslie Dala, music director; Vancouver Bach Choir; Kathleen Allan, music director; Danielle Sampson, soprano; Sumner Thompson, baritone; Christina Hutten, organ

For EMV’s first collaboration with the Vancouver Bach Choir, the singers of this illustrious choir join sixteen of the finest professional choral singers in the Pacific Northwest for a performance of Faure’s uplifting Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine. The first half will focus on unaccompanied performances of works by other important French composers including a full performance of Poulenc’s Mass in G.



conducted by Leslie Dala

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924):

Cantique de Jean Racine


conducted by Kathleen Allan

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963):

Mass in G major

Darius Milhaud (1892–1974):

Cantique du Rhône — I. Qu’il est beau

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921):

Op. 68, №2: Les fleurs et les arbres

Maurice Ravel (1875–1937):

Trois Chansons — III. Ronde



conducted by Leslie Dala

Gabriel Fauré:

Requiem in D minor, Op. 48

Introit et Kyrie



Pie Jesu

Agnus Dei

Libera Me

In Paradisum

Link to: EMV’s Fauré With Lots of Juice



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Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net