Live music guide: Concerts to catch at Metro Vancouver parks, stages, and public spaces this summer


LIVE MUSIC IS back, and it’s never sounded more joyful than in our (getting-there) post-pandemic world. Here are a few places to find it this summer. Check individual websites for the latest health and safety information.

Keep your eye on this page for updates, and we’ll add more concerts to the list as shows are announced.

Music in the Courtyard

To September 5 at the Firehall Arts Centre

From Arabic avant-garde and vocal-driven art pop to sitar and soulful blues, the Music in the Courtyard series is as daring as it is diverse. Presented by the Firehall Arts Centre and the Vancouver Independent Music Centre (VIM), the 2021 series runs July 30 to September 5. Performances take place outdoors in Firehall’s courtyard Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 3 pm PDT (with one exception: the Sunday, August 1 concert is at 7 pm). The lineup features M’Girl (July 30), Haram (July 31, presented in partnership with Vancouver Folk Music Festival), Gentle Party (with guest curator Peggy Lee, August 1), Small Town Artillery (with guest opener Aza Nabuko, August 4 and 5), Microcosmos Quartet (August 6), the C.R. Avery Orchestra (presented in partnership with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival on August 7), Only a Visitor (August 8), Emily Molloy with opener Cat Madden (August 12), Murray Porter (August 13), Mohamed Assani Trio (August 14), Tonya Aganaba (August 15), Ad Mare with guest artist Julia Nolan (August 20), the History of Gunpowder (August 21), Rumba Calzada (August 22), Ophelia Falling (August 25), Quatuor André Lachance (August 27), Electronica Night (August 28 with x41: ambient; Hitori Tori: breakcore; and Sara Gold: drone), and the Brad Turner Quartet (August 29).

That’s not all.

On September 2, rice and beans presents Made in Canada: an agricultural song cycle. Originally slated as a live theatre show titled Made in Canada: an agricultural operetta, the work evolved into an album of 10 songs composed by Mishelle Cuttler. Blending mariachi influences with lyrics sourced from actual words of seasonal temporary foreign workers, news articles, and legal text surrounding the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, the musical journey tells the stories of the people who harvest our food.

From there, Alvaro Rojas’ Gran Kasa plays September 3 (guest curator, Peggy Lee); Handmade Blade performs September 4 (guest curator, Peggy Lee), and Alpha Yaya Diallo closes out the series on September 5.

Kay Meek Music Series

August 12 to 26 at the Kay Meek Centre

In addition to various virtual offerings, West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Arts Centre a lineup of live music that makes it worth crossing a bridge. It all starts August 12, with a performance by Marin Patenaude (vocals, piano, guitar) and electric guitarist Cole Schmidt. (This show, along with many others, will also be streamed online.) On August 19, the C.R. Avery Storm Collective takes to the stage.

Sea to Sky Chamberfest happens August 21 Pianist Ian Parker, cellist Joseph Elworthy, and violinist Jonathan Crow join aspiring pre-professionals with selections from Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and more.

On August 26, pedal-steel player Scott Smith and guitarist Tony Wilson perform Buddy and Lenny, in homage to Buddy Emmons and Lenny Breau. Joined by bassist James Meger and drummer Liam Macdonald, they, will play the entire 1970s album Minors Aloud, which was recorded in Nashville and became a hard-to-find classic and a must-listen for guitarists.


Vancouver Bach Festival

August 3 to 5 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Early Music Vancouver presents Bach’s Sons on August 3 at the Chan Shun Concert Hall with cellist Elinor Frey, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and music director Alexander Weimann as part of the 2021 Vancouver Bach Festival. The works illustrate the language of Sensibility (Empfindsamkeit): intimate, sensitive, and subjective where the beauty of melody shines. (Note that this event, like other EMV offerings listed here, are recording sessions for Early Music Vancouver’s Digital Concert Hall and not traditional concerts.)

On August 4 and in that same EMV vein, the works selected by Mélisande Corriveau and Eric Milnes for Pardessus in Paradise reflect musical styles formed in pre- Revolution France.

EMV closes its Bach Festival on August 5 with two solo Bach cantatas performed by its artist-in-residence, Jonathon Adams, a Two-Spirit, nêhiyaw michif (Cree-Métis) baritone specializing in early music performance, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra led from the organ and harpsichord by Alexander Weimann.


Blueridge Chamber Music Festival

August 7 to 15 at the Orpheum Annex and Polygon Gallery

The fest presents live concerts—all free—with four centuries of chamber-music masterworks exclusively composed by women.

On August 7, the Blueridge Mainstage series opens with Three Sisters: an evening of piano at the Orpheum Annex. Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G Minor shares the program with Germaine Tailleferre’s Piano Trio and Cécile Chaminade’s second trio.

It’s over to the Polygon Gallery on August 8 for trailblazing Montreal-based Baroque cellist Elinor Frey. Warming by the Fire offers new works by Vancouver composer Jennifer Butler and Toronto-based Cree composer Cris Derksen with a twist:  each piece invites audiences to participate in the performance with optional atmospheric sounds and gestures. Rounding out the program are works by American composer Pauline Oliveros, who is known for experimenting with “sonic awareness” and “deep listening” to break down barriers between performers and audiences. Warming by the Fire happens August 12 at the Orpheum Annex and August 15 at the Polygon.

And on August 14, Blueridge Festival presents Music from the Edge at the Orpheum Annex. The program features 20th century works by composers Alexina Louie, Rebecca Clarke, and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Summer Pop-Up Concerts with Music on Main

August 9 to 31 in Vancouver parks

These free evening concerts will take place at various Vancouver parks from August 9 to 31, with the full schedule being announced on August 5.

Vines Art Festival

August 9 to 18 at Vancouver parks

The festival highlights artists and underrepresented voices who work toward land, water, and relational justice and presents work for free on “earthstages”—everyday, populated, and natural public spaces in Vancouver and beyond. The grassroots event features combines art disciplines of all kinds on each of its programs, all to connect people and awaken them to the environment and their souls.

Among the artists performing at Vines’ Re-Opening Ceremonies at St’ít’eweḵw’ (Stanley Park’s Second Beach) on August 9 are Kwiigaay iiwaans & Kimit Sekhon, who will perform an electronic music and lighting show featuring iiwaans’ vocals in the Haida and Squamish languages; singer-songwriter Janelle Reid; and Mad Riddim, founded by drummer Richard Brown and bassist Matt Reid.

Anessa Lefan Yuen–whose debut album, What Holds Us Together, co-created with Thomas Hoeller, will be released next year—performs as part of Our Stories Embodied. It takes place August 11 at X̱í7nam̓ut | New Brighton Park

Stl’a7shn-chef—Our Feast on August 14 at Trout Lake Park is a blind and low-vision-friendly event featuring a vast array of performance art, movement, storytelling, and more, plus the Clown Parade. Magnifuego & Friends will perform a fusion of South American Andean folk music mixed with Latin Rock elements; Sudanda plays the music of Alaaledin Abdalla, a composer and musician from Sudan., with oudh/vocals, guitar, accordion, trumpet/bass, trombone, and percussion.

Hip-hop and spoken-word artist Á’a:líya, who was born and raised in her home community of Skowkale within the Coast Salish Territory, is among the performers at Resilient Roots on August 18 at Trout Lake Park.


Queer Arts Festival

August 7 and 13, Mountain View Cemetery and Sun Wah Centre

Find live music—kick-ass taiko drumming, in particular—as well as dance at Ceremony for Rebel Spirits at Mountain View Cemetery on August 7, featuring Onibana Taiko and Alvin Erasga Tolentino. Plus, DJ O Show spins on the rooftop of the Sun Wah Centre at Glitter Forever: Closing Party on August 13.


Open Space Saturdays

July 31 through August at the Massey Theatre

Every summer Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, the outdoor areas around New Westminster’s Massey Theatre come alive, with family-friendly activities from Jenga to open-mic poetry to Zumba. The July 31 Buskers Stage lineup features Gwen Davies, Jason Bonhomme, and Jasmine Stacey while the Ed, Salve and Friends musical extravaganza features MJ Ancheta, Daunties Band, CrackerJacks Band, and more.