Stephen Stubbs, music director; Jolle Greenleaf, soloist; Catherine Webster, soloist; Laura Pudwell, soloist; Charles Daniels, soloist; Zachary Wilder, soloist;Ross Hauck, soloist; Douglas Williams, soloist; Charles Robert Stephens, soloist

Monteverdi’s Vespers is a undisputed masterpiece. Conductor and lutenist Stephen Stubbs leads nine soloists, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and a collection of North America’s best seventeenth-century instrumentalists including the peerless Bruce Dickey on cornetto.

“this was an utterly thrilling Vespers, of a quality you are unlikely ever to encounter anywhere else in the world.” – The Seattle Times

A co-production between Pacific MusicWorks, The Vancouver Chamber Choir and Early Music Vancouver.

Stephen Stubbs, music director; Jolle Greenleaf, soloist; Catherine Webster, soloist; Laura Pudwell, soloist; Reginald L. Mobley, soloist, Charles Daniels, soloist; Zachary Wilder, soloist; Ross Hauck, soloist; Douglas Williams, soloist; Charles Robert Stephens, soloist / The Vancouver Chamber Choir (conductor Jon Washburn)



Deus in adiutorium

Domine ad adiuvandum

Psalmus 109: Dixit Dominus

Concerto: Nigra sum

Psalmus 112: Laudate pueri

Concerto: Pulchra es

Psalmus 121: Lætatus sum

Concerto: Duo seraphim

Psalmus 126: Nisi Dominus

Concerto: Audi Cœlum


Lauda, Jerusalem

Sonata sopra “Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis”

Hymnus: Ave maris stella


I Magnificat IIEt exultavit III Quia respexit IV Quia fecit mihi magna V Et misericordia VI Fecit potentiam VII Deposuit potentes VIII Esurientes implevit bonis IX Suscepit Israel X Sicut locutus est XI Gloria Patri XII Sicut erat in principio


Anyone who sets out to perform Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers in the early 21st century is in the lucky position of standing on the shoulders of giants. First and foremost that musical giant, Monteverdi himself, whose powerful and individual voice still speaks so clearly across the intervening centuries; but also those adventurous souls who pioneered the revival of the instruments and techniques which over the last 50 years have made it ever more possible to hear the sonorities that Monteverdi would have known. The work itself has become one of the most performed and beloved masterpieces from the 17th century.

My personal experience with the Vespers goes back to my hometown of Seattle on the eve of my departure for Europe in the late 70s. I had only had a chitarrone for a matter of weeks, and this was my first outing with that extinct giraffe-like instrument. I fell in love permanently with both the instrument and Monteverdi’s music.

During the 80s, as a freelance lutenist living in Germany, I was often called upon to play in the Vespers with various local choir directors who would hire outstanding tenor soloists and a few professional specialists of the cornetto and chitarrone (Bruce Dickey and myself amongst others).

There were also many performances under the direction of Jürgen Jürgens in Hamburg. As the founder of the Monteverdi-Chor and the editor of Universal-Edition’s widely-performed 1977 edition of the Vespers, Jürgen (who died in 1994) was responsible for making the work more widely known and popular.

But by the 1980s his “Monteverdi” choir had reached mammoth proportions. These performances varied in quality, but left me and my fellow professionals with the conviction that Monteverdi could not have intended these pieces for performance by large amateur choirs.

The 1980s were also the years when Joshua Rifkin challenged more than a century of performance practice by asserting that Bach’s “choral” works had been written for solo voices, not choruses in the modern sense. Considered highly controversial at the time, Rifkin’s ideas are now almost universally accepted as the norm for baroque music.

These new notions informed the annual performances of the Vespers that began at Leiden’s Pieterkerk in the Netherlands in 1998, with an ensemble of marvelous soloists, my instrumental ensemble Tragicomedia, and Bruce Dickey’s wind band Concerto Palatino.

The version of the piece that you will hear tonight in Vancouver represents what I feel, from experience, represents a sort of “ideal hybrid” of these two performing traditions. In our version, nine solo voices cover much of the florid and clearly solistic musical material backed up by a professional chorus for the more solid but splendid homophonic moments. After performing this work for over 35 years,  the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 is a still a revelation to me.

— Stephen Stubbs