New Research Makes Concert Debut

University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers are harnessing new technology to learn what happens in the brains of symphony orchestra musicians when performing together.

A USask research team led by psychologists Janeen Loehr and Jennifer Nicol has been working with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) over the last year on an experiment that will be shared in a unique way with patrons at the SSO season opening concert on Saturday, Sept. 22.

“This research was a really exciting opportunity for us to measure brain activity from multiple musicians during a live performance and outside of the lab,” said Loehr, principal co-investigator. “There’s only a handful of research groups around the world that can do this kind of work.”

This is believed to be the first time that researchers have investigated whether synchrony between performers’ brain activity causes beneficial brain activity patterns, which may underlie a sense of wellbeing after performing together. This work could help explain why there are benefits, not just when performers play music together, but even when non-professionals play music together.

Loehr noted that in previous research, increased alpha brain wave activity on the front left side of the brain has been associated with listening to music and with happiness.

“There is lots of evidence that group musical performance has psychological benefits such as increasing well-being and reducing stress and anxiety – but exactly how that works is still a mystery,” said Jennifer Nicol, co-investigator on the project.

This is the first collaborative initiative under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed January 28, 2017 by USask President Peter Stoicheff and SSO Executive Director Mark Turner.

“While this is the type of high-level research that could happen anywhere, it’s thanks to the connections we’re building between the symphony and the university that this exciting experiment gets to happen here,” said SSO Executive Director Mark Turner.

At a dress rehearsal on May 5th, the research team recorded brainwave data from four SSO violinists simultaneously as theorchestra performed Élan, an original orchestral composition by Canadian composer Derek Charke commissioned for Canada’s 150th.

The violinists had portable electroencephalography (or EEG) caps placed on their heads. Signals from the caps were fed into attached laptops. The full orchestra sat in silence for one minute, and then performed Charke’s Élan, then sat in silence for an additional minute.

“Thanks to this compact portable technology, we have a real possibility to look at how musical group performance affects mood, and how similarities between performers’ brain activity contributes to that—things we have never been able to examine before,” Loehr said.

At the Sept. 22nd concert, the violinists’ previously recorded brain activity will be projected onto a screen above the orchestrato accompany their live performance of Élan. This visual representation will show how EEG activity changes as the musicians’ attention fluctuates between focusing on their own performance and focusing on others as they synchronize with each other.

As well, during the intermission, USask researchers will have their brainwave recording equipment on display and will be on hand to talk about the study.

The research collaboration, funded by USask, is a major interdisciplinary undertaking involving with eight collaboratorsfrom various disciplines, as well as four undergraduate students, one graduate student, and one post-doctoral fellow.

The research team hopes to publish a research paper on their findings next year.

The initial idea for a research collaboration came from Farrah Mateen, a USask graduate now at Harvard Medical School. Mateen proposed using portable EEG devices with musicians to Turner after successfully treating patients in Burma using the caps.

The specialized EEG equipment used for the experiment will also be available for future studies in a variety of disciplines. Researchers from USask colleges of education, arts and science, and medicine say this project will pave the way for further research opportunities in neuropsychology, music therapy, anddiagnosis of epilepsy and dementia in rural and remote medicine.

Loehr and Nicol also plan to use the EEG equipment to examine the benefits of music therapy at the brain level.

“For instance, we may be able to record brain activity between a music therapist and a client,” said Nicol.

In December, Loehr and Nicol will host a public lecture about the study.

The MOU between the SSO and USask formalized a musical collaboration underway since 1931, the inaugural year of the SSO and the USask music department.

The agreement aims to foster connections between the community and the university’s diverse range of scholarly and artistic work, including events and projects across a wide swath of departments and colleges. The partnership also promotes engagement with the USask instrument collections, such as the Amati string instruments, a rare quartet of 17th–century instruments, and the growing Kaplan Collection, comprised of historical and indigenous instruments from around the world.

See a video about the project – https://youtu.be/MDLhjniqFCU

I Played Baroque Oboe. In Public….

Have you ever tried something that terrifies you? Well, I did. I played the baroque oboe. In public.

My name is Erin Brophey, and I am the Principal Oboe player here with the SSO. It is a job that I treasure. It is my mission to serve my community by bringing as much beauty as I can to each and every concert.

With that personal goal in mind, I applied to attend the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto. Through the financial support of the Sask Arts Board, The Saskatchewan Orchestral Association, The University of Saskatchewan and the SSO, I had the opportunity to work with musicians from the world-renowned Tafelmusik Orchestra and to study the baroque oboe with John Abberger and Marco Cera.

The program offers lectures, workshops, master classes, sectionals, lessons and opportunities to play in public concerts. I would attend countless concerts and essentially live in the 17th century for two weeks

I was terrified.

You may think, “What is the big deal? She is going to study baroque oboe and is an oboe player!” Well, let me inform you that the baroque oboe is NOTHING like the modern oboe I play. I have practiced for tens of thousands of hours to make my modern oboe feel like second nature. The baroque oboe feels completely different. Every musical habit that I have practiced on the modern oboe made the baroque oboe squeak. A lot!

Why would I do this to myself? My motivations were harmless enough: I was curious to learn how early music oboe players play baroque music. I had heard many beautiful recordings that were so different from my modern interpretations of the same repertoire. I wanted to know how they did it! I was intoxicated by the idea of looking at familiar music differently. At this point in my career, making musical discoveries feels so precious! I was excited to discover composers I had never heard of and uncover new musical gems.

The TBSI lived up to my expectations and more! The music proved to be fascinating and so very beautiful. Unfortunately, it wasn’t beautiful the way I played it. Despite my best efforts, I could not wrestle that baroque oboe into submission. Both John and Marco were very encouraging. John would say to me every day “Well, Erin, it IS getting better…” But it was a long way from being beautiful. A LONG way.

When I first began studying the oboe, I had no expectations, no experience and no ego about my ability. On the baroque oboe, however, I brought all of my ego baggage with me. I CAN play all of the music that I was now destroying on the Baroque oboe. Yet every time I played, it was just a question of when I would squeak, squawk or miss notes. Sometimes entire passages would slip by with me sitting and struggling with just the first note!

But, you know what? I am so glad that I did it.

Make no mistake, my ego took a beating. I had to let go of my expectations and just take whatever came. In some cases, I would have an increase in acuity over the course of a piece. In others, I would slide so far backward, it felt like I had lost all ground.

I had forgotten how scary it can be to be out of control. When I had played the baroque oboe for one of my pithy students, she thanked me for demonstrating to her that I must have once been terrible on the modern oboe and clearly had practiced a lot. I am now much more empathetic to my lovely students.

I was not aware of my bias and came to realize that I interpreted Baroque music with modern ears. Looking back at historical records (treatises and artwork) and playing an actual replica instrument is very informative in demonstrating both its abilities and its limitations. For example, in the baroque era, the oboe had only two keys and was made of boxwood. It could only play in six different keys and had a sweet blend-y sound. Now I understand why so much baroque music is scored for doubled oboe and why it is so much more difficult to manage on the modern oboe.

I have a new appreciation for my modern oboe. Like any perfectionist, I can get caught up in the details of my playing. I can become obsessed with two bars of music as I struggle to get them exactly right. Too often, I have let these toils colour my enjoyment of playing. It is easy to forget that I can play 98% of the piece exceedingly well. Playing the baroque oboe reminded me of how much I can do on the modern oboe. Now, I feel like a superstar!

So, as it turns out, doing something hard is a worthwhile experience. I can’t wait to begin a new SSO season and flex my new muscles on my modern oboe. I feel inspired, I feel engaged and I feel refreshed.

I encourage you to try something terrifying like attending the TBSI. It just might be a transformative experience!

Artist Profile – Warren Lee

The SSO is thrilled to present pianist Warren Lee in recital – though he comes to us from Hong Kong, Warren has a pretty cool Saskatoon connection that brings him here each summer…his wife is from Saskatoon!

Hailed by The Straits Times as a musician with “a wonderful sense of colour and impeccably controlled articulation” and lauded by critics of his Carnegie Hall debut as having “thought through his approach to the finest of details and… executed with exact precision…”, Warren’s artistry has brought him to four continents, gracing stages of all sizes and forms and in collaboration with international artists and leading orchestras in Asia.

Warren made his televised début with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of six and was the first-prize winner of the 1995 Stravinsky Awards International Piano Competition and the Grand Prix Ivo Pogorelich.

A Steinway Artist since 2009, Warren’s discography includes 8 acclaimed albums of solo and chamber music. The American Records Guide calls him a “first-rate artist”. His playing can also be heard on any Steinway Spirio.

Currently the Music Director of St. Paul’s Co-educational College, a recipient of the Cultural Leadership Citation from Yale School of Music, Warren is co-currently the Hong Kong Representative of Royal Academy of Music, as well as a visiting artist in various institutions around the world. Warren holds an MBA degree, and is an award-winning and internationally published composer as well as an entrepreneur who founded the +myelin app designed for guiding students to practice effectively.

In recognition of his significant contributions to the music profession, Warren received the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award in Hong Kong in 2012, an Associateship from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 and the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Alumni Award by the Yale School of Music in 2017

Curated Concerts – Fun and Fresh

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating it concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

For the music lover who just wants to have fun – its all about the music and a great night out with friends.  Get dressed up, get social, and get inspired!

The Baroque Concerto
Eric Paetkau, Music Director
Concertos give exceptional musicians the chance to step out in front of the orchestra and show off their virtuosity! The concert features the music of Bach, Vivaldi, and more.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Saturday, October 6, 2018
Honens’ Winner Namoradze
A newly crowned Laureate of the 2018 Honens Piano Competition gives their first recital after the September 2018 competition finals.
Convocation Hall
7:30PM, Friday, October 12, 2018
Prairie Pops with Jeffery Straker
Saskatchewan's piano man and singer songwriter extraordinaire returns to the stage with the SSO for musical storytelling and pop hits.
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, October 20, 2018
Sing-Along Messiah
Hundreds of Singers!
Our favourite concert of the year! Do you always hum along to the Hallelujah Chorus? Are you a self-identified choir nerd? Are you willing to let go and have some fun? Sing-along with hundreds of voices to all the Messiah hits. Don't want to sing? Don't worry - just come and enjoy the sound of hundreds of voices joined together in this fun one-of-a-kind concert.
Knox United Church
2:00PM, Saturday, December 15, 2018
Ravel and Jazz
Gordon Gerrard conducts
Godwin Friesen returns home to play Ravel's jazzy piece for piano and orchestra, led by guest conductor Gordon Gerrard
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, January 26, 2019
If Music Be the Food of Love
Sunday Chamber 2
The Saskatoon Symphony Chamber Players with music inspired by the works and words of the bard, William Shakespeare
Convocation Hall
2:00PM, Sunday, February 3, 2019
Mother's Day Concert
Sunday Chamber 3
The Saskatoon Symphony Chamber Players celebrate Mother's Day with a concert featuring the music of Mozart and more!
Convocation Hall
2:00PM, Sunday, May 12, 2019
Great Baroque Choruses
SSO Chorus
Hear some of the great choral hits including Hallelujah Chorus, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, some beautiful Bach, and much much more! This concert is a great way to showcase the incredible Saskatoon Symphony Chorus.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Saturday, May 25, 2019

Curated Concerts – Emotionally Powerful

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating it concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

Want to be moved?
There is nothing more powerful than the sound of a full symphonic orchestra at full forte – we put together this list to highlight this season’s concerts that will blow you away!

Honens’ Winner Namoradze
A newly crowned Laureate of the 2018 Honens Piano Competition gives their first recital after the September 2018 competition finals.
7:30PM, Friday, October 12, 2018
Convocation Hall
Music of World War One
Gilse, Bridge, and Hindemith
Join the SSO Chamber Players in a concert of music written during the First World War.
2:00PM, Sunday, November 4, 2018
Convocation Hall
Elgar Cello Concerto
100th Anniversary of Armistice
An emotional evening that features Elgar's romantic dramatic cello concerto with the exceptional Stephane Tetreault
7:30PM, Saturday, November 10, 2018
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
Tainted Love - Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
The SSO performs Prokofiev's passionate and fiery Romeo and Juliet alongside a heart-stopping piece for violin and orchestra
7:30PM, Saturday, February 9, 2019
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
Johannes Moser Recital
with pianist Chiharu Iinuma
Johannes Moser has earned a reputation for being one of the world's greatest cellists....and he just happens to have Saskatchewan roots!
2:00PM, Sunday, March 17, 2019
Convocation Hall
Finding Heinz Moehn - Mozart Requiem
Mozart Requiem
A German violin concerto discovered in Saskatoon alongside Mozart's glorious Requiem
7:30PM, Saturday, March 23, 2019
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
Beethoven's Eroica
Beethoven Symphony 3
Beethoven's heroic 3rd symphony changed the world...and Sarah Yunji Moon's performance of Departures will change your world
7:30PM, Saturday, April 27, 2019
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
May the Fourth - the Music of Star Wars
The perfect way to spend May the Fourth - featuring music from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, Solo, and the original triology
7:30PM, Saturday, May 4, 2019
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
Great Baroque Choruses
SSO Chorus
Hear some of the great choral hits including Hallelujah Chorus, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, some beautiful Bach, and much much more! This concert is a great way to showcase the incredible Saskatoon Symphony Chorus.
7:30PM, Saturday, May 25, 2019
Knox United Church

Curated Concerts – Family Fun

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating it concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

Do you remember your first concert?  Wanting to make some magical musical memories with your family?  
Look no further than this incredible line up of family focused events at the SSO – and don’t forget about the $15 tix through TD 25 Below

Time For Toddlers
Kids Programming

It's time for toddlers! Specifically designed for your mini-maestro, these parent and child experiences are perfect for your 2- to 4-year-old music lover. Explore music through movement, song, and dance with SSO musicians at Albert Community Centre, Wilton Academy of Music.   Let the music connect you and your child and send you both on a journey through melody, rhythm, colour, …

12 Days of Christmas
Join the SSO for some great holiday cheer featuring some of our absolutely favourite friends including Eileen Laverty, Garry Gable, and many more!
Sing-Along Messiah
Hundreds of Singers!
Our favourite concert of the year! Do you always hum along to the Hallelujah Chorus? Are you a self-identified choir nerd? Are you willing to let go and have some fun? Sing-along with hundreds of voices to all the Messiah hits. Don't want to sing? Don't worry - just come and enjoy the sound of hundreds of voices joined together in this fun one-of-a-kind concert.
Ravel and Jazz
Gordon Gerrard conducts
Godwin Friesen returns home to play Ravel's jazzy piece for piano and orchestra, led by guest conductor Gordon Gerrard
Disney in Concert - A Dream is a Wish
Disney In Concert - A Dream is a Wish
May the Fourth - the Music of Star Wars
The perfect way to spend May the Fourth - featuring music from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, Solo, and the original triology
Mother's Day Concert
Sunday Chamber 3
The Saskatoon Symphony Chamber Players celebrate Mother's Day with a concert featuring the music of Mozart and more!

Curated Concerts – Classically Curious

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating it concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

Do you find yourself seeking adventure?  Do you love documentaries and podcasts?  You’re likely always wanting to get more out of life and live just that little bit on the edge…we’ve put together a list of the events this season that push the limits, explore new sounds, and dig deeper into the stories.

No Place Like Home
Saskatoon Opera
Saskatoon born soprano Danika Lorèn returns home for this special night in concert with her long-time collaborator, SSO Executive Director, Mark Turner.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Sunday, September 30, 2018
Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock
Chamber Opera Project
We're teaming up with Saskatoon Opera for a Christmas tale told by Canada's great Stephen Leacock, with music by Neil Wiesensel
Quance Theatre
7:30PM, Friday, November 23, 2018
Quance Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, November 24, 2018
If Music Be the Food of Love
Sunday Chamber 2
The Saskatoon Symphony Chamber Players with music inspired by the works and words of the bard, William Shakespeare
Convocation Hall
2:00PM, Sunday, February 3, 2019
Johannes Moser Recital
with pianist Chiharu Iinuma
Johannes Moser has earned a reputation for being one of the world's greatest cellists....and he just happens to have Saskatchewan roots!
Convocation Hall
2:00PM, Sunday, March 17, 2019
Finding Heinz Moehn - Mozart Requiem
Mozart Requiem
A German violin concerto discovered in Saskatoon alongside Mozart's glorious Requiem
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, March 23, 2019
Beethoven's Eroica
Beethoven Symphony 3
Beethoven's heroic 3rd symphony changed the world...and Sarah Yunji Moon's performance of Departures will change your world
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, April 27, 2019
Great Baroque Choruses
SSO Chorus
Hear some of the great choral hits including Hallelujah Chorus, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, some beautiful Bach, and much much more! This concert is a great way to showcase the incredible Saskatoon Symphony Chorus.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Saturday, May 25, 2019

Curated Concerts – Orchestral Romance

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating its concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

Looking for the perfect date night?
In the movies, the music always makes or breaks the romance…and with music this good, the romance leaps off the stage!

Our Orchestra Romance curated concerts feature some of the best romantic music ever written.

 

No Place Like Home
Saskatoon Opera
Saskatoon born soprano Danika Lorèn returns home for this special night in concert with her long-time collaborator, SSO Executive Director, Mark Turner.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Sunday, September 30, 2018
The Baroque Concerto
Eric Paetkau, Music Director
Concertos give exceptional musicians the chance to step out in front of the orchestra and show off their virtuosity! The concert features the music of Bach, Vivaldi, and more.
Knox United Church
7:30PM, Saturday, October 6, 2018
Elgar Cello Concerto
100th Anniversary of Armistice
An emotional evening that features Elgar's romantic dramatic cello concerto with the exceptional Stephane Tetreault
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, November 10, 2018
Tainted Love - Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
The SSO performs Prokofiev's passionate and fiery Romeo and Juliet alongside a heart-stopping piece for violin and orchestra
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, February 9, 2019
Johannes Moser Recital
with pianist Chiharu Iinuma
Johannes Moser has earned a reputation for being one of the world's greatest cellists....and he just happens to have Saskatchewan roots!
Convocation Hall
2:00PM, Sunday, March 17, 2019
Beethoven's Eroica
Beethoven Symphony 3
Beethoven's heroic 3rd symphony changed the world...and Sarah Yunji Moon's performance of Departures will change your world
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, April 27, 2019

Curated Concerts – For Piano Lovers

Wanting to go to a concert but not sure which one is for you?

This year the SSO is curating it concerts to give you some idea which concerts you’ll love best.

Do you love a piano?
Maybe you have your Gr 8, or you always wished you’d played it, or maybe you just absolutely love the romance and virtuosity of a concert pianist…

We have a big line up of pianists this season…after all, being Season 88 we couldn’t ignore the 88 keys….

Honens’ Winner Namoradze
Convocation Hall
7:30PM, Friday, October 12, 2018
A newly crowned Laureate of the 2018 Honens Piano Competition gives their first recital after the September 2018 competition finals.
Prairie Pops with Jeffery Straker
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, October 20, 2018
Saskatchewan's piano man and singer songwriter extraordinaire returns to the stage with the SSO for musical storytelling and pop hits.
Ravel and Jazz
Gordon Gerrard conducts
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
7:30PM, Saturday, January 26, 2019
Godwin Friesen returns home to play Ravel's jazzy piece for piano and orchestra, led by guest conductor Gordon Gerrard