The Vancouver Bach Choir gave its first concert at the Orpheum in December 1930. During its long history, the choir has sung with such world-renowned conductors as Bruno Walter, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Zubin Mehta, Sir Arthur Bliss, Meredith Davies, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Simon Streatfeild, Andrew Davis and Simon Preston. Leslie Dala was appointed Music Director in July 2010, following Bruce Pullan who had been Music Director for 27 years.
Since 1930, the Vancouver Bach Choir’s Canadian reputation has grown through numerous broadcasts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, an Eastern Canadian tour in 1974 and the cross-Canada viewing of a television film of the Easter music from Handel’s Messiah.
During the seventies the Vancouver Bach Choir undertook two international tours, one to Holland and one to Poland and France. On both occasions the choir was awarded first place at international music festivals and gave numerous concerts including appearances at the Hague, Warsaw and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In 1978 the choir came first in the prestigious choral competition, Let the Peoples Sing, and was heard by a radio audience of 15 million people throughout the world.
In 1983 the choir took part in the Canadian Premiere of Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Davis. Subsequently the choir sang Mahler’s 8th again with the TSO and gave the Western Canadian Premiere of the same piece with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Mario Bernardi. In 1986 the VBC’s Expo concert was made into a film Whalesong, for television, which has been shown all over the world and won a Gemini award.
In 1987 the choir toured England and Wales, giving concerts in such prestigious venues as St. Martin in the Fields, St. Paul’s, Canterbury and Lincoln Cathedrals, and the Llangollen International Festival where the concert with the BBC Welsh Orchestra was broadcast by the BBC.
In the Summer of 1989 the choir sang in the International Opera Festival’s production of Aida in both Vancouver and Tokyo, and in the Summer of 1993 the choir sang in both the 1993 International Choral Festival in Toronto and the World Symposium on Choral Music in Vancouver. In July 1997 the choir traveled to the UK for concerts in London and Oxford conducted by Bruce Pullan and a performance of Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
In May 1997 the choir gave the world premiere of the oratorio Job by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the opening of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC. The concert was recorded live and subsequently issued on CD by Collins Classics.
In Vancouver, the Vancouver Bach Choir presents a series of concerts each season, and has been responsible for the British Columbia premiere of a number of major works including Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Fanshawe’s African Sanctus, Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, Berlioz’ Messe Solennelle, Penderecki’s Polish Requiem, and Adam’s El Nino. The choir has also commissioned and premiered extended works by Canadian composers John Estacio and Christos Hatzis as well as many shorter pieces by other Canadian composers.