The Creston Concert Society is celebrating the arrival of spring with a special matinee performance on March 22 with QuintEssence.
Featuring internationally renowned vocalists Robyn Driedger-Klassen, Barb Towell, Frédérik Robert and Peter Alexander, with celebrated pianist Tina Chang, the five members of QuintEssence offer a fresh and innovative concert experience for lovers of classical music of all styles. Their concerts showcase the most beloved and familiar opera favorites, along with introducing audiences to delightful and delicious musical gems by celebrated songwriters who span from Bernstein to Loesser to Weill.
Described as “singing with pure tone, absolute clarity of diction and vivid characterization,” soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen is in high demand in the opera and recital fields, having held such roles as Sophie in Massenet’s Werther, and Alexandra in the Canadian premiere of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina. Driedger-Klassen has received critical acclaim for her performances of the Countess in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and with Seattle Opera’s young artist program as the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. In addition to performing many renowned oratorios, including Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation, Driedger-Klassen specializes in contemporary works including Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, and the premiere of her song cycle Perruqueries, with texts by Bill Richardson.
A graduate from the University of BC with a master’s degree in opera performance, mezzo-soprano Barbara Towell is known as a superb singer and musician. She made her operatic debut with Vancouver Opera in 2001 in the role of Ida in Die Fledermaus, and since has performed many roles in both Rigoletto and Salome, and her most recent role, in Vancouver Opera’s world premiere of Stickboy. Towell performed in Handel’s Messiah and excerpts of Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Vancouver Bach choir. Her ease in a variety of repertoire from opera to art song to jazz puts her on the leading edge of the ever-changing world of classical music. Her voice, often described as “dark, rich and full of colour,” is enhanced by her truly genuine and sparkling onstage personality. Her passion for the music and the craft of singing shines through both in large opera houses and intimate settings.
Tenor Frédérik Robert has toured North America for over four years with the Canadian Tenors and Romanza, as well as supporting and lead roles with Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon operas, amongst others. In his performances, whether opera, crossover, musical theater or cabaret, Robert is a versatile and heartfelt vocalist. In his roles as Tony Candolino in Master Class, Les Noces with the Vancouver Bach Choir, Il duca in Rigoletto and Don Jose in Carmen with Vancouver Concert Opera, lead tenor in both Marry Me a Little and the world premiere of the new opera Love in Public, he is hailed as “spine tingling” and “emotionally stirring”, quickly establishing him as one of Canada’s “top tenors”.
Peter Alexander’s greatest passion is to perform on the world stage. Whether it is opera or oratorio, this baritone relishes every opportunity to share his artistry with everyone. Opera Canada magazine stated he “dominate[s]… by exhibiting excellent vocal command eminently suited to the Baroque period,” for his performance of the title role in Pimpinone. His opera roles include the title role of Gianni Schicchi, Escamillo in Carmen, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Schaunard in La bohème and Frank in Die Fledermaus. Oratorio highlights include Elijah and Messiah with the Vancouver Island Symphony, Haydn’s Creation and Carmina Burana.
Pianist Tina Chang completed her undergraduate degree in music at the University of BC and from there, went on to complete her master’s of music degree in collaborative piano at the University of Minnesota. Change has appeared in many recitals throughout Canada and the U.S., has toured with Vancouver Opera’s school shows, has been pianist and coach with the Atelier lyrique at the Opéra de Montréal, as well as the pianist and music director for the San Diego Opera Ensemble.
Don’t miss this exciting performance by QuintEssence, which is sure to dazzle with vocal pyrotechnics, melt hearts with beautifully sung poetry and stretche the musical frontier to the limit with adored music from around the world. While audiences delight in their charm and entertaining antics, this remarkable vocal quartet also invites audiences to become fully engaged participants in the concert experience via the inclusion of theatrical and narrative twists within their performances.
Together, Quintessence will perform favourites from such beloved operas as La traviata by Verdi, Bizet’s Carmen and Pearlfishers, Puccini’s La bohème, and the musical Guys and Dolls, and perhaps even a little West Side Story.
QuintEssence performs at the Prince Charles Theatre at 2 p.m. March 22. Tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students ($25/$12 at the door), available in advance t Black Bear Books, Kingfisher Books or Creative Fix.
—CRESTON CONCERT SOCIETY