British Columbia

Juno-nominated B.C. conductor invokes Baroque's most prolific composer

The recording Rebelles Baroques is up for a Juno award in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble.

Rebelles Baroques features compositions by Georg Philipp Telemann

Alexander Weimann, shown here conducting, is nominated for a Juno for his recording, Rebelles Baroques. (Alexander Weimann)

The Juno music awards are just around the corner, and this year may see a University of British Columbia harpsichord teacher win the category of Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble.

The Montreal-based Arion Orchestre Baroque, led by Vancouver conductor and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann, has been nominated for its recording Rebelles Baroques.

In an unusual decision, Weimann used Rebelles Baroques as an opportunity to showcase music composed by Georg Philipp Telemann and the little known Baroque flute composer Joseph Joachim Quantz.

While Telemann (1681–1767) remains one of the most prolific major composers of all time, his Baroque work is often now overshadowed by composers Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.

Georg Philipp Telemann was far more famous than his contemporaries, but his work is less known today than that of Johann Sebastian Bach. (Valentin Daniel Preisler/Wikimedia Commons)

Weimann said it's interesting that history has been more kind to Bach and Handel because, in his day, Telemann was one of the most revered composers in Europe and eclipsed the former two in fame.

"I think his contemporaries would have agreed, there was no dispute, that he was the model," said Weimann during CBC's North by Northwest

Weimann said that in contrast, Bach — who was a close friend of Telemann — was an undisputed virtuoso in piano playing, but his compositions were widely unpopular at the time.

"His style of writing, controversial from the beginning actually. The community would complain ... it would disturb people and throw them off." said Weimann.

The nomination

Weimann said he is thankful for the Juno nomination and praised Vancouver for being a part of his recent success. Over the last two years, Weimann has been instrumental in developing the city's recent Baroque music scene.

Weimann's career has seen him travel all over Canada, performing as a soloist and as a conductor but, in 2016, he decided to relocate permanently from Montreal to Vancouver to focus on musical activities on the West Coast.

"Moving from a city as packed with activities as Montreal did feel scary, but I have not felt a minute of regret."

Since moving to Vancouver, he has headed the Pacific Baroque Orchestra as its music director.

With files from North by Northwest