The Show Will Go On, Someday

Last Monday, if you’d told me that we’d be postponing concerts by the end of the week, I wouldn’t have believed you. It felt like the pandemic was something happening elsewhere, not here. It didn’t really seem real for us.

But as the week progressed, each hour brought new news. First the JUNOs (heartbreaking as the SSO was going to be playing with Jann Arden!). Then we had to postpone our Accent with the SSO concert because we weren’t able to get all six of the groups members here. Then the last few shows of our SaskTel Symphony in Schools Tour was cancelled. Then we postponed our Mozart Reimagined project with Saskatoon Opera and FreeFlow Dance. And our Music Talk at McNally for March 31st has been cancelled. And I’m sure more is on the way.

As of this morning, we are still taking things hour by hour. We’re looking ahead to the programming planned for the next few weeks and realizing that there are more postponements and cancellations in sight.

Some of these events will have to be cancelled, but the goal for us is to reschedule some of the events for a future date. I have no idea when, but I do know that we want to keep sharing music – and I have two reasons why I feel strongly we need to reschedule.

Firstly, our musicians. We are all grateful to be able to do our part in social distancing to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, but these measures will be devastating to our local musicians. They already have been. It highlights how exceptionally fragile working in the arts is. We all love to reap the benefits of having artists in our communities, but we have yet to find a way to ensure their stability as members of our communities. It’s something that we have to work on going forward, but more importantly, its something that we’re starring in the face right now. Most musicians in our community do not qualify for EI, and many of them will see a reduction or total loss of work.

On top of that, the financial risk this poses to the SSO, and all arts organizations, is drastic. My administrative team is working non-stop on trying to figure out what we can do. How do we support our musicians and remain afloat?  Can we find ways to soften the blow? And how do we even keep our doors open if the remainder of the season is shuttered?

The second reason I have for wanting to reschedule is that when the time comes for us to end social distancing, the need for us all to come together to participate in the act of making music will be key to finding our identity as a community again. We will need to be social, and a concert is one of the most joyous ways to come together and be part of something again. It will help us all rebuild emotionally and mentally after these strange days.

All of the tickets held to a postponed event will be honoured – we want to have you there when we get music back on its feet in Saskatoon. If you want you can ask for a refund as well, or you can choose to donate your purchased ticket to the SSO.  We’ve had a number of people do this already, and it means the world to us – it helps us continue to operate in this very difficult time and let’s us give you a tax receipt for your support.

The last few days have been very difficult, but I have been overwhelmed by supporters of the SSO reaching out wanting to help. I can not tell you how wonderful it feels to know that people are thinking of their orchestra at this time. I’ve been humbled by the people phoning in to make donations. I’ve been touched to see the care and respect our community has for its music makers.

Please keep subscribing to our 90th season – this fall will be an even bigger celebration than we could have expected, so we want to share that with you!  Your subscription helps the SSO stay stable moving beyond this fiscal year.

And the most meaningful help is making a donation.  This time of year is our largest in terms of the donations we receive – if donations drop off on top of losing ticket revenues, it will spell disaster for your SSO.

None of us ever imagined this kind of global scenario would play out – and all of us are feeling the impact. Social distancing and self-isolation are needed right now. But a time will come when we will need the communion of being together again to make music, and those will be such wonderful events.

Please support your local symphony – we all need you more than ever.

Stay well,
Mark Turner
Executive Director
Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra

Postponing Accent with the SSO

I’m very sad to announce that we need to postpone our March 21st concert with Accent.

Over the last few days, I have been working very closely with orchestras across the country, our venues, our funders, and with the SSO Board President Dr Anne Doig (former President of the Canadian Medical Association), and keeping a constant eye on Public Health advisories.

Currently, the risk to Saskatchewan residents is low and no venues have been closed. But this morning I discussed with Accent that they are uncertain of the travel options for a number of their group members, and rather than risking a show that wouldn’t be to the standard either party would want, we decided its best to postpone.

This concert has been such a thrill to put together with Accent – and we are so excited to share it with Saskatoon. So under these circumstances all parties agreed that this was something we will reschedule.

Over the next few weeks we’ll find a time to reschedule the event and keep you informed of the date.

All tickets for next weekend’s concert will be honoured for the rescheduled event.

If you’d prefer to not hold on to your ticket for the rescheduled event, we have two options for you:

  • chose to donate your ticket back to the SSO, and receive a tax receipt
  • request a refund for those tickets

As of this morning, we have no plans to postpone any other events – but we are monitoring the situation closely and want to do what’s in the best interest of safety and public health.

The financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic could have to the SSO and our musicians is devastating.  So we are working hard to try and figure out what happens next.
I know that the stock market and pandemic have all of us worried – but I urge you as music lovers to consider the risk that this poses to the beloved musicians of the SSO.  My staff and I are working hard to put in to place contingency plans in a hope to ensure the well being of the SSO and its musicians and staff, physically and financially.  Our city is lucky to have the musicians and orchestra, and this current situation gives us a chance to show our support for them.

Our patrons and our musicians mean a lot to us – so please stay well.

Mark Turner
Executive Director

For any questions please feel free to email, call the SSO at 306-665-6414

Mozart’s Symphony No. 29

Accustomed as we are to the central importance attached to the later Symphonies of Mozart and Haydn, their earlier works often seem to be uncomfortably light in weight for two such masters to have created. The music may be as inventive, as beautifully crafted as the more famous later works, but that magical sense of emotional depth is much less apparent.

There are those who maintain that the two composers were merely feeling their way towards a greater musical expression in their earlier works, but a single hearing of one of Mozart’s Operas or of Haydn’s Masses from the same period quickly puts paid to that argument. The truth is, however, very simple. Symphonies, at least until the middle of the 1780’s, were not designed to be the most important part of a concert. They developed from, and at first were largely interchangeable with, Italian Overtures, and as such were intended merely to gather the audience’s attention towards the solo and the concertante works which were to follow. Over the decades, the Classical Symphony evolved in the direction of greater logic and structural efficiency, and almost by the way, grew more important in the scheme of things. Mozart and Haydn both started to express greater emotional depth in their Symphonies as more and more of their listeners began to pay attention, and as time went on, the Classical Symphony achieved the form and the style which we value so highly today.

Mozart’s Symphony no. 29 in A Major could well be regarded as being the finest of all of his early Symphonies. One of the seven Symphonies which Mozart composed was for the new Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg Hieronymous von Colloredo in the years 1773-4. The work was, according to the still extant manuscript, completed on April 6th, 1774. There is no record of the first performance in the Archbishop’s court. It is unlikely that the premiere of a new Symphony would be considered worthy of comment or even notice but Mozart apparently felt that the Symphony held a special significance, for he carried the work around with him for the rest of his life, scheduling it for performance whenever the opportunity would arise.

The Symphony no. 29 represents Mozart’s early maturity at its best. His personal synthesis of the three disparate Symphonic styles of the Mannheim School, of J.C. Bach and of Joseph Haydn would have been remarkable as a pastiche. Instead Mozart was able to develop a manner of Symphonic composition which partook of all three schools and yet was wholly his own. The Symphony is in the proper four movements.

The first movement, an Allegro moderato, begins quietly without the usual fanfare, but quickly establishes itself with an ingratiating charm, delightfully backed up by contrasting subjects. A short Development section rapidly leads to a direct Recapitulation.

The second movement, a serene Andante, is both civilized and somewhat pastoral in character, and is remarkably well written, even for Mozart.

The third movement opens in a brisk, business-like way in the opening Menuet section, only to become suddenly introverted, almost watchful, in the Trio.

The Finale, marked Allegro con spirito, is a dashing movement characterized by the use of hunting idioms, both rhythmic and melodic. The music swings along with real gaiety and even a certain amount of drama to bring the Symphony no. 29 to a satisfying close.

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Credit – Ronald Comber

Rebecca Dale

Saturday, March 7th will feature a North American premiere of Rebecca Dale’s reflective Materna Requiem. If you’re thinking that you don’t know the music of Rebecca Dale, we’re telling you this is a must hear!

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Rebecca Dale is a British composer of screen and concert musicBorn in 1985, Rebecca started composing from a very young age, completing her first full musical at age 10 and piano concerto at 15. After school music scholarships, she studied at Oxford University (New College) and the National Film and Television School, and holds an MA with distinction in Composing for Film & Television. Her 2015 debut self-release for choir and orchestra, I’ll Sing, rose up the classical charts and was Classic FMChoral Classic of the Week. Her next release, Soay, spent five weeks at Classical No.1 and was named Classic FM 2016 album of the year. In 2017, Dale won a coveted place on the Sundance Composer Lab.

Check out this recording of Soay released in January 2019!

Most recently her track ‘Winter’, commissioned by bestselling vocal group Voces8 for their album of the same name, was described by Gramophone magazine as a “masterpiece”. A follow up album is due for release this year. Dale also recently composed original music for the BBC Christmas drama series, Little Women.

Dale has been involved in projects for 20th Century FoxDisneyWorking TitleThe Weinstein Co. and the BBC, and her score for Crossing The Line was nominated for best original music in feature film at the 2017 international Music & Sound Awards. She has recorded and conducted orchestral works at Abbey Road, Air Studios, George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and Fox Studios, Hollywood. Dale’s Full length albumRequiemwas released by Decca Classics in August 2018.

Hailed by Classic FM as “one of today’s most exciting young composers” and “a household name in years to come”, Rebecca Dale made history when in 2018 she became the first female composer to sign to Universal Music’s Decca Classics label, and the first woman to sign to Decca Publishing. In September her debut album recorded with the Royal Liverpool PhilharmonicRequiem For My Mother, smashed into the UK album charts at No.1 in the specialist Classical charts.

Here is a sneak peak of Materna Requiem – the Pie Jesu. The intention of this movement is to capture the feeling of a father singing to their newborn.

Originally mentored by Golden Globe-nominated Alex Heffes (“Last King of Scottland”) and Emmy-nominated Maurizio Malagnini (“Call the Midwife”), Rebecca has worked on films like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, director Stephen Frears’ The Program, action film The Take starring Idris Elba, BBC period drama series The Paradise and The Secret Agent, famous US Miniseries remake Roots, Touching the Void Live and BBC’s Frozen Planet Live and Disney’s Queen of Katwe directed by Mira Nair.  She was a judge for Northern Ireland’s inaugural Royal Television Society Programme Awards, is a Berlinale Talents alumna and BAFTA Crew participant, and has been a regular interview guest on BBC Radio 3.

As a concert composer Rebecca has written for numerous classical artists and ensembles including Mari & Hakon Samuelson, the London Mozart Players, the Scottish Festival Orchestra, the Latvian Opera Orchestra, musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra, percussionst Joby Burgess and cellists Richard Harwood, Benjamin Hughes and Oliver Coates. She is a fellow of the prestigious MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (notable composer alumni include Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland), and has been an associate composer with the London Symphony Orchestra on its Soundhub programme. She also directs and writes extensively for choral groups, was commissioned by Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir for their debut album, and was 2017-18 Composer in Residence for the London Oriana Choir as part of its five15 project. I’ll Sing was performed at Cadogan Hall with ensemble and orchestra from the London opera houses, as part of the charity concert for Grenfell Tower.

She plays the violin and piano, and likes odd socks.

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Materna Requiem – Subscriber Perks

We’ve got some great perks for our Subscribers!

We are so excited about our concert on March 7th, Materna Requiem. This will be a North American premiere of Rebecca Dale‘s masterpiece, and we want all of our subscribers to be able to experience it in an even more intimate way – by attending a rehearsal at no extra charge! Here you will be able to witness the program before the evening’s performance, offering an opportunity to immerse yourself deeper in the work. Maestro Eric Paetkau will work the orchestra, guest soloists Spencer McKnight and Chelsea Mahan, and the Greystone Singers and Aurora Voce choirs to ensure everyone has a unified vision.

The dress rehearsal on Saturday, March 7th (starting strictly at 1:00pm), will be open to all subscribers to watch upon registering. To take advantage of this unique experience, you must register by February 28th with Matthew via email at, or by calling the office Monday-Friday 10:00am-3:00pm at (306) 665-6414 – please inquire for more information.

And how about something special for our ambitious concertgoers – we are implementing our “Inside the Sound” subscriber perk, where a small handful of people can sit scattered amongst the orchestra during a preliminary evening rehearsal (Thursday, March 5th or Friday, March 6th). Here you will be able to see an in-depth look at the rehearsal process, from the musicians perspective! The specific date will be decided once we can poll those who have requested to be a part of this – please don’t shy away! Email Matthew at or call the SSO office (306) 665-6414 to find out more information and secure one of the few spots!

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Materna Requiem

What does “In Concert Live to Film” mean anyways?

As we get closer to our performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid In Concert Live to Film we are getting a lot of questions about what that actually means. While this is a first for us there are several orchestras in North America, and really all over the world, who have a whole variety of these shows. The National Arts Centre Orchestra has Mary Poppins In Concert Live to Film in February, the Vancouver Symphony is presenting one of the Harry Potter films, several orchestras show Home Alone over Christmas, and there are several other In Concert Live to Film options from Disney available at any time if you are willing to do some travel.

But what does it mean? What is the actual concert experience? Here are some answers to your In Concert Live to Film Frequently Asked Questions (or ICLFFAQ for short).


Is it the full Little Mermaid film we all know and love?

Yes! The whole movie will be playing above the orchestra on a large screen. Here’s a mock-up so you know what it will look like.

Is there an intermission?

We will have an intermission at the halfway mark. Snack breaks are important.

Whose voices will we hear?

All the dialogue and singing is from the original film, so you can think of it as reverse karaoke! You will hear the 1989 cast of Jodi Benson as Ariel, Christopher Daniel Barnes as Prince Eric, René Auberjonois as Chef Louis (we see you Deep Space Nine fans), and all the other iconic voices you know and love being accompanied by your Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.









We know Sebastian. It’s amazing what you can do these days!

How will the SSO match the movie playing above them?

Music Director Eric Paetkau will be leading the charge. Eric will have a click track, essentially a metronome, in his ear that is synched with the film, and there will be a special version of the film on a laptop next to him so he can keep all the cues in time. It’s the same set up we’ve had for other concerts with film so Eric is a pro!

Have any other questions about what to expect at The Little Mermaid In Concert Live to Film? Let us know!

There are a handful of tickets left for this show so make sure you stop by the TCU Place box office before they sell out!

Saint-Saëns’ Egyptian Piano Concerto

Want to sabotage your self esteem?

Try comparing yourself to Camille Saint-Saëns. The renowned composer and teacher was also a virtuoso pianist and organist, as well as a travel writer, poet, and playwright. He had a photographic memory and spoke several languages fluently. He demonstrated perfect pitch at two years old and started composing at four. At ten he made his formal debut in Paris, performing works by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. He wrote his first two symphonies during adolescence and continued to dazzle as an adult. At 72, he became the first major composer to score a film. By the time he died, at 86, he had completed more than 200 musical works, in virtually every genre, and was still getting gigs as a concert pianist. “I produce music the way an apple tree produces apples,” he famously declared. It ain’t bragging if it’s true, but it’s still highly irritating. Regular people struggle. Saint-Saëns, freakishly, did not.

When Saint-Saëns finished his fifth and final piano concerto, early in 1896, he was 60 years old. He needed a dazzling new showpiece for a celebration later that year marking the 50th anniversary of his debut as a performer (at 10—the jerk!). Although it had been 20 years since his last piano concerto—Saint-Saëns composed relatively little for the instrument, surprisingly—his apple-tree analogy remained apt. The work’s nickname, “Egyptian,” didn’t originate with Saint-Saëns, but it seems inevitable. He composed most of it while on vacation in Luxor, and, at least for him, it’s unusually programmatic. Explaining that the concerto represented a “sea voyage,” he provided many picturesque details to support his claim. But rather than strictly portraying a single country, the “Egyptian” compiles a world-traveler’s far-flung impressions. 

The opening Allegro animato subjects a simple melody to increasingly intricate formal procedures, with vaguely modal harmonies hinting at exotic destinations. Rippling piano textures and pulsing orchestration remind us that we travel by sea.

To quote the composer, the second movement “takes us… on a journey to the East and even, in the passage in F-sharp, to the Far East.” Here Saint-Saëns refers to the pentatonic melody picked out by the piano, a startling bit of proto-Minimalism that brings to mind a Javanese “Chopsticks.” With its hypnotic, chiming overtones and gamelan allure, it almost eclipses the main theme, which Saint-Saëns described as “a Nubian love song.” He claimed to have scribbled the tune on one of his sleeves after hearing it sung by boatmen on the Nile. As the Andante closes, Spanish-inflected dance rhythms subside in a nocturne of chirping crickets, croaking frogs.

The remarkably brief Allegro molto brims over with a madcap energy. Jazzy syncopation vies with sweeping bravura gestures. Coloristic effects describe everything from motorized propellers to restless trade winds. Saint-Saëns explained that the finale expresses “the joy of a sea crossing,” but this is clearly a hectic, queasy kind of joy. In fact, the notoriously tricky solo part was later used as an examination piece for aspiring pianists at the Paris Conservatory.

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Credit – René Spencer Saller

Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite

World War I caused a collective shuddering of the soul throughout the world. The attendant horrors — trench warfare, poison gas, mechanized weapons of destruction — set in motion a wave of revulsion and a profound questioning of traditional religious and secular ethical values. A yearning for spiritual comfort and for the perceived (if mythical) alleged sanity of the past sent many artists scurrying backward in time. The famed impresario Diaghilev approached Stravinsky to write a ballet based on the centuries-old commedia dell’arte. To win over the reluctant composer, Diaghilev showed his one-time collaborator several manuscripts he had brought to Paris from a recent trip to Italy. Stravinsky read through the various scores and found himself drawn to works attributed (several in error, one must add) to the short-lived composer Giovanni Pergolesi (1710–36), a talented transitional figure whose music breathes as much the air of the Baroque as the Rococo. ‘I looked,” said Stravinsky, “and I fell in love.” The fruit of this across-the-centuries encounter was Pulcinella, an essentially neo-Classic work — neo-Baroque is an even better term — that reined in Stravinsky’s self-styled primitivism as expressed most shockingly in his 1913 cri de guerre, The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky used Pergolesi’s melodies and bass lines more or less as handed down in the manuscripts shared by Diaghilev, overlaying the 18th-century material with irregular rhythmic phrases and piquant harmonies. He remained quite fond of this music, drawing material from the original ballet for the orchestral suite in 1922 (revised in 1947), adding further versions for violin and piano (1925, revised 1933) and for cello and piano (1932). The two duet versions were thorough rewrites; hence their new title, Suite italienne. Of special significance is that for the three decades subsequent to Stravinsky’s perusal of those manuscripts, much of his music — his entire neo-Classical output — derived from his serendipitous encounter with these infectious scores from the early 18th century.

Fittingly, the work opens with a rousing Sinfonia whose jesting manner sets the tone for the ballet suite. The ensuing movements, by turns humorous, lyrical and mock romantic, focus on the various ruses employed by the Neapolitan maidens seeking to attract the sly Pulcinella through their seductive dances.

The premiere of the original ballet was a brilliant collaboration of Stravinsky’s music, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe dancers, Massine’s choreography and Picasso’s sets. Oh, to have been there!

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SSO Top 5 Stocking Stuffers!

Whether you know someone that goes our shows regularly or has yet to experience what we have to offer, tickets to the SSO are a great way to brighten your Christmas gift giving! And though the season has already begun, there are still many concerts not even listed in this top 5 that are waiting to be discovered.

5. Mozart’s Flute

– A great finale to our mini-Mozart week

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Leading up to the concert, there will be several other Mozart-themed shows that will take you on a journey through the mix of Mozart’s compositions.

Naomi Ford will be our guest that evening for the Flute Concerto No. 1. At the age of 16, she was the Grand Awards winner at the National Music Festival of Canada in 2017, and more recently named an Award of Excellence winner with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2019. She is from New Brunswick, and is currently studying at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with Jeffrey Khaner. It will be a night to remember!

Mozart’s Flute Concerto

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4. Accent with the SSO

– vocal jazz with orchestra

Saturday, March 21, 2020

They may not be joining us for Christmas, but Danny Fong and Andrew Kesler will be coming home for this performance. They with their 4 colleagues form the vocal jazz group ACCENT.

Accent with the SSO

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3. Rebecca Dale’s Materna Requiem

– North American Premier of a UK work!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Rebecca Dale is the first female composer ever to signed with Universal Music’s Decca Classics label and Decca Publishing – and that was only last year! Her masterwork, Materna Requiem, is absolutely stunning. You do not want to miss the opportunity to see this!

This performance will include soloists Chelsea Mahan and Spencer McKnight, and SSO will be joined by the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers.

Materna Requiem

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2. Gift Certificates

– never expires!

We get it – people are busy, schedules change, life can be hectic. That’s why we have the gift certificate option!

Put any dollar amount on the card, and we guarantee that it will never expire until every cent is used up. That way, whoever you give it to can pick the concert that best fits them!

Call – (306) 665-6414

Visit the office – 602B 51st Street – Monday-Friday – 10:00am-3:00pm

1. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

– Watch the movie with LIVE MUSIC

Saturday, January 25, 2020

How could you pass up the chance to relive the music of this classic Disney film? Answer – you can’t! The evening will delight those well accustomed to the songs, and will capture those hearing them for the first time.

Act fast, because tickets are already selling fast!

The Little Mermaid

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A few more SSO gift ideas!

We couldn’t fit all our Christmas gift ideas for the classical music lover in your life into one post….so, we have two more brilliant ideas!

For the Piano Lovers

We all have that family member or friend who absolutely love the piano – and this year it works out perfectly to be able to get that person tickets to one of our concerts featuring two amazing pianists with two truly awesome pieces!

Jane Coop

– playing Beethoven’s Forth Piano Concerto

Saturday, May 2, 2020

This concert will mark Jane Coop’s sixth visit with the SSO. Long time fans and subscribers may remember her performing Beethoven’s first piano concerto in 2001, and now she will be gracing audiences with Beethoven’s third.

Paired with the Pastoral Symphony, this concert will satisfy all the Beethoven lovers, too!

Beethoven 250

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Thomas Yu

– playing Camille Saint-Saëns’ Egyptian Concerto

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Thomas Yu will also be returning, this being his fifth time with the SSO! Now it will be with the exotic sounds of Saint-Saëns fifth piano concerto.

Adding the flavour of Vincent Ho’s Earthbeat, Nicole Lizee’s Behind the Sound of Music, and Igor Stravinky’s Pulcinella Suite will make the palette of this concert quite an exciting and spicy treat.

Thomas Yu with the SSO

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Now…what about the art lover on your list?!

Artist Denyse Klette is a superstar….on top of being an artist whose work shows around the globe, and also on top of running Boheme Gallery here in Saskatoon, she somehow found total artistic genius to partner up with the SSO for her Composers Series.




Mozart was like his music.  Playful, humourous, glamourous, bursting with colour, and full of life!
The first in the series, Mozart has been a big splash with music lovers – he is the epitome of what we love most about making music.




“I am a Lonely Painter, I Live in a Box of Paints” – Denyse Klette



“I am a lonely painter.  I live in a box of paints”
Joni Mitchell endures.  Her words have a timelessness to them, and her music is all at once simple and devastatingly complex.  Klette’s take on Joni allows for the viewer to feel the movement and intimacy of Joni’s music, while referencing her song “A Case of You”.








There is only one Beethoven.
Revolutionary. Brilliant. Powerful. Bold. Iconic.
Klette’s Beethoven is fearless and refuses to fit in – she somehow finds as many colours to match his vast musical palette.  His intense gaze and wild hair truly unforgettable!


To get a limited print of these incredible paintings, you can stop in at the SSO offices or purchase online at