Dvořák’s Cello Concerto

It was Victor Herbert, the composer of Babes in Toyland and Naughty Marietta, who inspired Dvořák to write the most beloved cello concerto in the repertory. We owe this historical curiosity, along with some of Dvořák’s most popular music, to Jeannette M. Thurber, the wife of a New York wholesale grocer, who exhausted her husband’s millions establishing an English-language opera company that folded and a National Conservatory of Music that flourished long enough to entice Dvořák to settle temporarily in the New World. The composer agreed to serve as director of her school for $15,000, and when he arrived in 1892, Victor Herbert was the head of the cello department. Herbert, who had come to the United States from Vienna only six years before, was highly regarded as a cellist, conductor, and composer, though he hadn’t yet written the first of the forty operettas that would make him enormously popular.

In 1892, Dvořák was as famous as any composer alive. Taking on an administrative title and a heavy teaching schedule was probably an unfortunate waste of his time and talents, although the music Dvořák wrote in this country includes some of his best: a string quartet and a string quintet (both titled American) composed in Spillville, Iowa; the New World Symphony; and this cello concerto.

For several years Dvořák had been unmoved by a request from his friend Hanuš Wihan, the cellist of the Bohemian Quartet, to write a cello concerto. During his second year at the National Conservatory, Dvořák attended the premiere of Victor Herbert’s Second Cello Concerto, given by the New York Philharmonic on March 9, 1894. It is difficult today to know why this long-forgotten score made such a deep impression on him, for Herbert was hardly an overwhelming or influential talent. But Dvořák enthusiastically applauded Herbert’s concerto, and he heard something in it that made him think, for the first time, that there was important music to be written for solo cello and orchestra. This concerto would prove to be the last major symphonic work of his career.

On April 28, 1894, Dvořák signed a new two-year contract with the conservatory. After spending the summer holiday in Bohemia, he returned to New York on November 1; a week later he began this concerto. While he was writing the second movement, he received word that his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzová (with whom he had once been in love), was seriously ill. As a tribute to her, he quoted at length one of her favorite melodies, “Kéž duch můj sám” (Leave me alone), the first of his Four Songs, op. 82. He completed the concerto on February 9 (his son Otakar’s tenth birthday), at 11:30 in the morning.

After the premiere of the New World Symphony in 1893, Dvořák said, “I know that if I had not seen America I never would have written my new symphony.” The cello concerto shows no such outward signs of the composer’s American experience—it doesn’t imitate the rhythms and melodies of the native music he heard in the United States—and has often been accepted as an early warning sign of his 2 homesickness. In fact, once Dvořák returned to Bohemia for the summer of 1895, with his new concerto in his bags, he realized that he couldn’t leave his homeland again; in August he wrote to Mrs. Thurber asking to be released from his contract. Since he had already contributed so much to American music, including a symphony as popular as any ever written, she could not refuse. The unveiling of the cello concerto, the last of Dvořák’s American products, belongs to the final chapter of his life: the premiere was given in London in March 1896, with the composer conducting. (The first American performance was not given until December.)

The literature for solo cello and orchestra isn’t extensive. At best, Dvořák can’t have known more than the single concertos by Haydn (a second was discovered in 1961) and Schumann, the first of Saint-Saëns’ two, and Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations for cello and orchestra. (He also knew the Triple Concerto by Beethoven and the Double Concerto by Brahms.) Dvořák had written one long-winded cello concerto in his youth and later said he thought little of the cello as a solo instrument (“High up it sounds nasal, and low down it growls”). Now, with little previous inclination and few useful models, Dvořák gave the form its finest example. Brahms is reported to have said, “Why on earth didn’t I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known, I would have written one long ago.”

The first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto is as impressive as anything in the composer’s output. The music is long and expansive. The orchestral exposition commits the textbook sin of traveling to a foreign key for the second subject — a luxury traditionally saved for the soloist — but Dvořák’s theme is so magnificent (Donald Tovey called it “one of the most beautiful passages ever written for the horn”) that it can justify the risk. Dvořák later admitted the melody meant a great deal to him. Once the soloist enters, the music grows richer and more fanciful. The development section dissolves into simple lyricism. By the recapitulation, Dvořák is writing his own rules: he bypasses his first theme and goes straight for the big horn melody, as if he couldn’t wait to hear it again. The movement is all the stronger for its daring and unconventional architecture.

Dvořák’s progress on the slow movement was sidetracked by the memory of Josefina, and, as a result, the music he wrote is interrupted midway by the poignant song she loved. The depth of his feeling for her, often debated and sometimes denied, is painfully clear. Josefina died soon after Dvořák permanently returned to Bohemia, and, hearing the news, he took this jaunty rondo finale down from the shelf and added a long, contemplative coda as a memorial. The concerto still ends in high spirits, but it’s no longer the same piece Dvořák took home from the New World.

Dvořák began his cello concerto in New York on November 8, 1894; he completed the score on February 9, 1895 (at 11:30 A.M.), revised the ending that June, and conducted the first performance, with Leo Stern as soloist, on March 19, 1896, in London. Performance time is approximately forty minutes.

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Brahms’ Fourth Symphony

I shall never write a symphony!


Brahms famously declared in 1872. “You can’t have any idea what it’s like to hear such a giant marching behind you.” The giant was Beethoven, of course, and although his music provided essential inspiration for Brahms, it also set such a high standard that the younger composer found it easy to discount his own creations as negligible in comparison.

Four more years passed before Brahms would finally sign off on his First Symphony. But once he had conquered his compositional demons he moved ahead forcefully. Three symphonies followed that first effort in relatively short order: the Second in 1877, the Third in 1882–83, and the Fourth in 1884–85. Each is a masterpiece and each displays a markedly different character. The First is burly and powerful, flexing its muscles in Promethean exertion; the Second is sunny and bucolic; and the Third, while introspective and idyllic on the whole, mixes in a hefty dose of heroism. With his Symphony No.4, Brahms achieves a work of almost mystical transcendence born of opposing emotions: melancholy and joy, severity and rhapsody, solemnity and exhilaration.

Clara Schumann recognized this play of duality already in the first movement, observing

It is as though one lay in springtime among the blossoming flowers,

and joy and sorrow filled one’s soul in turn.

Brahms was well aware of his distinct achievement in this work. He composed it during two summer vacations at Mürzzuschlag in the Styrian Alps — the first two movements in the summer of 1884, the second two in the summer of 1885. On many occasions he was known to suggest that his compositions reflected the places in which they were written, and in this case he wrote from Mürzzuschlag to the conductor Hans von Bülow that his symphony-in-progress “tastes of the climate here; the cherries are hardly sweet here — you wouldn’t eat them!” Brahms was given to disparaging his works—in fact, he once described this symphony as “another set of polkas and waltzes” — but in this case he perfectly evoked the bittersweet quality that pervades many of the Fourth Symphony’s pages.

Although it is cast in the same classical four-movement plan as his earlier symphonies, Brahms’ Fourth seems more tightly unified throughout its duration (largely through repeated insistence on the interval of the third, especially the minor third), and its movements accordingly proceed with a sense of cumulative power. The opening movement (Allegro non troppo) is soaring and intense, and the second (Andante moderato) is by turns agitated and serene. The Allegro giocoso represents the first time Brahms included a real scherzo in a symphony, quite a contrast to the lighter, even wistful allegretto intermezzos that had served as the third movements of his first three. And for his finale, Brahms unleashes a gigantic passacaglia, a neo-Baroque structure in which an eight-measure progression (here derived from the last movement of Bach’s Cantata No. 150) is subjected to 32 variations of widely varying character.

As soon as he completed the work, Brahms sent copies to several of his trusted friends and was miffed when they all responded with concern over this or that. His confidante Elisabet von Herzogenberg insisted that she respected the piece, but she allowed of the first movement that “at worst it seems to me as if a great master had made an almost extravagant display of his skill!” His friend Max Kalbeck suggested Brahms throw away the third movement entirely, use the finale as a free-standing piece, and compose two new movements to replace them. The composer did not cave in, but he anticipated the symphony’s premiere with mounting apprehension. His music had long been criticized as “too intellectual,” and Brahms knew that his Fourth Symphony was at least as rigorous as anything he had previously composed. To his amazement, the symphony proved a success at its premiere and audience enthusiasm only increased in subsequent performances.

Here Brahms’ great masterwork played by your SSO on our Opening Night!

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What are they up to?

As we’re preparing for our upcoming season to start, we thought we’d share what some of our guest artists are up to this summer!

Carissa Klopoushak

Ironwood Quartet

Before getting back to the swing of things playing in the National Arts Centre Orchestra and preparing for her November performance with the SSO, Carissa has been working with her team at Ironwood Quartet.  The quartet has just recently wrapped up some performances at summer festivals, including their own!  They are at the helm of the Classical Unbound Festival where the serve as artists-in-residence – the festival’s goal is to  unbind so-called ‘classical’ music from its formal attire and bind it more closely to our hearts and souls.

Carissa’s creative juice never takes a summer break though – we know she’s already working with her colleagues at Ritornello to plan next year’s festival.  This November she returns to the SSO to perform a truly stunning work, Vivian Fung’s Violin Concerto No 1, as part of this season’s Homecoming concert!

 

 

Danika Lorèn

Original art by Loren for Crumb’s Apparition

After finishing a refreshing run in Saskatoon Opera’s Die Fledermaus, Danika headed back to Toronto to prepare for some new performances with her group Collectif.  The group strives to create new experiences for audiences through multi-discipline adventures in art song.  This summer they’re performing as part of Toronto Summer Music and Wellington Water Week.  They re-think the concert experience, creating films and animations, and doing it all themselves!

Their new cabaret for Wellington Water Week, called Watering Hole, has classical music getting a dash of comedic irreverence in a casual atmosphere.  With tons on her plate over the next few months, it’s exciting to have Danika returning to the SSO to sing Handel’s Messiah – its one of the most anticipated performances this season!

 

Ryan Cole

Victoria Symphony Splash

It seems like all good musicians Ryan is spending his summer with his instrument!  As the Principal Trumpet of the Victoria Symphony, he’s prepping for Splash! It’s the big highlight of their summer season – in true island fashion, the orchestra plays from a barge in the Victoria inner harbour to over 40,000 people gathered on the lawns of the legislature and the Empress hotel (and even all around them in kayaks!). It really is a special concert in Victoria.

Between all the concerts and teaching summer session at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, he’s going to make a trip home to enjoy some of this stellar Saskatoon summer.  This November Ryan makes his SSO solo debut performing a new concerto written just for him, Marcus Goddard’s Trumpet Concerto.  We’re thrilled to showcase this special musical moment.

And if you follow him on social media, you already know he’s practicing!

 

 

Spencer McKnight

Cast of Don Giovanni

Opera, apperol spritz, and pasta…ahead of coming home to begin work on new rep for the upcoming season, including a number of debuts, Spencer is in Italy singing his heart out.  He just recently completed a run of the role of Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Vicenza, and is taking time to be a tourist for a bit before he says arrivederci Roma!

Spencer is stepping on to the TCU Place stage with the SSO next spring with the North American debut of Materna Requiem by Rebecca Dale.  The work features an unusual setting of the requiem’s Pie Jesu – normally sung by a female or child, Dale’s Requiem places the piece into the voice of a tenor to highlight a father’s love for his new born son.

In the year ahead he’s making a number of special appearances as well as solo recitals, including performances of his new recital Songs of the Isles in spring 2020.

A momentus achievement for the SSO

I recently had the chance to see one of my favourite paintings in person for the first time.  I’ve seen endless copies of this particular painting since I was a kid; the particular gaze of the girl in painting, the light on her jewelry, the folds of her clothing – I thought I knew every inch of this painting.  

But as I sat for a while and stared at her I realized that she was completely different than I’d ever imagined.  Her gaze was the same as I’d seen in books and posters and copies, and the light seemed to dance across her face in the same way, but she was different.  She sparkled. More precisely, the negative space around her wasn’t just darkness but rather it was darkness filled with the movement of light in the room in which I was standing.  I wasn’t looking at a painting, I was inside the world the artist created.

This past weekend I was sitting in the audience at Knox as the SSO and Chorus performed our last concert of the season.  I was feeling a sense of relief and gratitude that it was the perfect end for a very strong season. I was enjoying that the audience was so excited to be there, and enjoying the joy on the face of each and every chorus member as they got to sing their hearts out.  And then it happened again. Along came Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, a piece I have heard endless times in my life – and to be honest, I’ve never felt it was his best work. I’ve always felt it was a bit much…a great commercial pop hit from an artist who could write truly thrilling music.  And played to death on radio and CDs.  But faced with the piece performed by live chorus and orchestra, I was struck. It’s not just another “hit”, but a deeply personal and moving moment when Mozart places you right inside the world he created; its graceful and gentle, but deeply sincere.  It’s exactly the sound Mozart had intended on creating for the listener.

The truth of the matter is, in 2019 we don’t have many moments in our day to day lives when our soul gets swept up in the moment.  Between trying to Marie Kondo our way to happiness and snapchat filter our way to feeling good about ourselves, our day to day lives aren’t much to revel in.  The realities of life don’t give us a natural pause. There is no natural cadence from stress in an ever connected world, and no ordinary distraction from how exhausted our schedules are making us.  And while spending $3 on a mindfulness app might be the answer to all your worries, I strongly recommend making art and music a significant part of your life.

But there is no replacement for the real thing.  Seeing copies of that painting for the rest of my life, I would have never realized how deeply the painting spoke to me.  It was a great reminder to me that there is no substitute for an orchestra.

In my conversations with patrons this year I’ve heard about the music that really moved them – from a newer patron who found Mozart’s Requiem to be wonderfully intense, to the long time music lover who is still deeply moved by last season’s Armed Man.  One thing became clear: the sound of hearing this music live was wholly different than listening to a recording.  The sound of a live symphonic orchestra cannot be faked.

We have a few more days until the end of this year’s Share in the Future campaign.  We set a lofty goal this year, and we’ve got about $40,000 to raise before the end of day on Friday to reach our goal of $300,000.  This year’s campaign is special because if we are successful, we will have made the SSO deficit free. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any orchestra in 2019, but a significant achievement for Saskatoon’s orchestra.  

This achievement would not be possible were it not for the exceptionally generous support of the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation.  The Remai Foundation’s matching of donations instantly doubles your support of your orchestra, and allows us to boldly enter a new era for your symphony.  

Imagine only ever having the chance to hear recordings of orchestral music.  It’s just not the same. A live symphony orchestra is a vast expanse of sound that captures the size and intensity of human expression.  It can be as big as a prairie sky or as personal as a broken heart. It can bring you to your feet or move you to tears. It has the power to be the loudest sound you’ve ever heard or so soft that the entire room sits in silence to hear the next note.  It’s an extraordinary experience.  

I invite you to join me in making a donation to the Share in the Future campaign in these final days.  It feels really good to be part of something this momentus for Saskatoon’s oldest arts organization, and it sends a clear message to the musicians of the SSO that their work is valued and supported by their community.  

It’s true that without an orchestra in town, life would go on.  But without the chance for future generations to come face to face with this glorious sound, they’ll never understand the power of a live orchestra.

I’m certain of this – because until the day I came face to face with that painting, I had no idea she sparkled.  

Thank you for making music matter,
Mark Turner
Executive Director

 

To make a gift to our Share in the Future campaign:

Click Here to Give Online

Call us at 306-665-6414

Visit us at the SSO offices – 602B 51st Street 

Talking with Sarah Moon

On April 27th, Sarah Yunji Moon comes back to Saskatoon for one final farewell.  Sarah was the SSO’s Principal Flute for two seasons, and while we’re sad to see her go, we’re thrilled to have one last chance to make music with her!

She’ll be performing the dynamic flute concerto “Departures”, by Canadian composer Christos Hatzis.

We had a chance to ask her a few questions about this departure:

SSO: Being that the piece is called Departures, and sadly you’re departing the SSO, does this give extra special meaning to this performance?

SM: It certainly does, although when we chose this concerto together in March last year, I had no idea that I was going to be leaving. I am sad that this is going to be my last performance with the SSO after two seasons, but I also feel lucky to have another chance to connect and share this amazing Canadian concerto with the audience that have been so supportive.

SSO: What is your favourite memory of your time with the SSO?

SM: Since I originally moved to Saskatoon to join the SSO, I will miss being part of the orchestra the most. The SSO’s various concert series really pushed me to grow as a musician- I got to perform a lot of chamber music that required intimate and delicate musical communication with my co-workers, and also had to get better at speaking to younger audience members in elementary schools. I also loved performing a lot of contemporary music to an eager and/or slightly intoxicated audience at After Dark.

If I have to pick just one memory, it would be when a little boy from one of the school shows quietly raised his hand to ask an innocent question that blew all of our minds. We had just performed a mini version of John

Cage’s famously silent 4’33’’, and had a discussion about how every sound can be used to make music. The innocent question was, ‘if every sound is music, when does the music stop?’

SSO: What drives you towards challenging modern repertoire for the flute?

SM: I love playing modern repertoire because I often find it more relevant to my life, as a Korean immigrant living in 21st century Canada, specializing in western European classical music. Performing modern repertoire helps me find relevance as a performer in the community I live in. It can simply mean asking my composer friends if they have written any flute music I can program at my next concert. I commissioned a student composer to write for the school flute choir, because she is a living Canadian female composer who had a chance to have her work premiered by her colleagues. Listening to Departures for the first time on the internet was such an exciting experience, I can only imagine it must be how the Beatles fans felt when they listen to the new record for the first time. I hope to share my excitement for the concerto with the audience.

SSO: The flute is often seen as a “sweet” and “gentle” instrument, but in Departures we see many sides of this expressive instrument – do you this it will catch the audience off guard?

SM: Oh, yes! This concerto is full of sweet and gentle melodies, and explosive jazzy licks and bluesy tunes as well. Imagine what kind of music Mozart or Beethoven would have been written if they grew up listening to Michael Jackson, indigenous music from every corner of the world, Celine Dion and jazz. Departures is the perfect example of 21st century Canadian classical music that demonstrates the perfect balance of the traditional and new music.

SSO: What are you going to miss most about Saskatoon?

SM: Perogies, the sky, and Saskatoon Berry pies!

Catch Sarah in action with the SSO April 27th in our concert featuring Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

Motherhood and Mozart…

At our May 12th Mother’s Day concert at Convocation Hall, the SSO String Quartet will be performing a Mozart quartet that has a unique connection to motherhood.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421/417b is the second of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn and the only one of the set in a minor key. Though undated in the autograph, it is believed to have been completed in 1783, while his wife Constanze Mozart was in labour with her first child Raimund.  Constanze stated that the rising string figures in the second movement corresponded to her cries from the other room.

“…we are probably right in assuming that it was the sudden forte of the two octave leaps and the following minor tenth (bars 31-32 of the andante), a brief uproar that quiets down, in a syncopated passage, to piano. These are figures that otherwise do not occur in Mozart.”

The first movement is characterized by a sharp contrast between the aperiodicity of the first subject group, characterized by Arnold Schoenberg as “prose-like,” and the “wholly periodic” second subject group. In the Andante and the Minuet, “normal expectations of phraseology are confounded.” The main part of the Minuet is in minuet sonata form, while “the contrasting major-mode Trio … is … almost embarrassingly lightweight on its own … [but] makes a wonderful foil to the darker character of the Minuet.” The last movement is a set of variations. The movement ends in a picardy third.

When we were planning our now Annual Mother’s Day concert, our Concertmaster Michael Swan immediately suggested this piece and its unique ties to motherhood!

Hear it live on May 12th at Convocation Hall, 2pm.

Beethoven’s Heroic 3rd Symphony

From its arresting opening chords to its marvelous finale, Beethoven’s 3rd symphony is majestic and a powerhouse of emotions.  His life was changing, as were politics and philosophies.  The world was becoming a different place…so it needed different music.

 

There is so much history and musical insight to explore in this piece that many consider to be the greatest symphony ever written.  As we sat down to create a blog about Eroica, we found a resource that literally covered everything so thoroughly we felt our audience should just dig in to this remarkable website.

Enjoy digging into the 3rd symphony at www.beethovenseroica.com

Hatzis’ Departures

We’re thrilled to be performing Christos Hatzis’ Departures on April 27th.  Little did we know when we programmed it that it would be a perfect and fitting way to send off our Principal Flute Sarah Yunji Moon on her departure from the SSO.

From the composer:

Departures for flute and string orchestra was written for Canadian flutist and friend Susan Hoeppner and was given its premiere performance by her and the Kyoto Symphony at the Japan Flute Convention 2011 where she was invited to perform as a keynote guest at the Gala Concerto Concert. I worked on its composition during a time when a number of dear friends had passed away and the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, and the resultant nuclear disaster was constantly in the news. All of these events were foremost in my mind as I was composing Departures and are acknowledged in the subtitles of each movement.

Blooming Fields, the first movement, is dedicated to the memory of theatre and television director George Bloomfield. In his obituary, George was quoted describing his own life as”the most fun anyone has ever had, ever!” This is certainly how I remember him. George used to buy new clothes and sew his own buttons on them. One’s appearance was an important statement to him but he would always find half-convincing excuses to justify my own utter neglect for my apparel or appearance in generalóto my unfailing amusement, I might add. The music reflects his playfulness and sheer delight with life, people and deliberate style and a wide expressive range, which was also the hallmark of his television and stage work. From its “Asiatic” opening, through the acrobatics for the flute and the orchestra, to the unexpected “burlesque” interpolations further along, the music of Blooming Fields is full of exuberance and delight. However, the flipside of George’s existence was his constant flirting with death (one medical emergency after another, at least during the years that I knew him) and his constant cheating of death each time, except for the inevitable final encounter. The deeper experience of these encounters he kept hidden from his friends but, to me at least, it must have been the great teacher of his life: the one that revealed to him the more profound aspects of being and the richness that results from interacting with them. In the music, this is the moment when the out of control burlesque-like revelry is interrupted by an intense and dissonant flute multiphonic, which in turn introduces a different way of listening: to the small voice within, depicted here by the quiet whistle and Aeolian tones of the flute. In the end, a soft, muted tremolo on high strings confirms this introspection of the soloist as the path to true awakening.

Serenity, the second movement, is dedicated to the memory of Bertha Modlich, an inspirational woman who passed away just shy of her 105th birthday. Bertha lived alone, ran her own house and a pottery workshop, played the violin and did sports (mostly rowing) until the very end of her lifeóa remarkable feat for a woman of that age. She modestly attributed her longevity to her daily dose of Lindt chocolate (from the factory on Lake Zurich, right across the lake from her family home) but I think her secret was her perpetual optimism and her determination to always see the best in other people no matter what the circumstances. Bertha experienced hardships in her life, like living in Berlin as a young woman and mother of two during the allied bombings of the city and the material deprivations that followed the fall of the Nazis, but she always focused on the positive aspects of life and had a way of making other people feel important. The music of Serenity follows her lead: there are clouds but they are short-lived and the music returns quickly to sunnier vistas. The latter part of Serenity is a song without words. As I was writing it immersed in my loving impressions of Bertha (and perhaps her own ghostly presence,) I imagined her dancing away into eternity in this unpretentious, slow waltz melody that seems to exist on its own terms and against all conventional wisdom about human limitations.

Progress Blues, the final movement, is a meditation on the nuclear disaster of Fukushima; not on the accident itself, but on the lessons that can be learned from our unwarranted and single-minded faith in technological progress. Even though the tsunami caused more human tragedy than the near meltdown of the nuclear reactors, the latter event may end up having a more transformative effect on the Japanese psyche than any act of God, however devastating. The modern history of Japan has two nuclear disasters 66 years apart as bookends, one at the end of WW2 and one in our days. After the Hiroshima and Nagasaki holocaust, Japan embarked on a path of technological development and exuberance, which, although it brought a great deal of material and emotional satisfaction and wealth, it also caused fissures within the Japanese psyche and society that are only recently becoming visible to everyone. The music follows this path of exuberance, which is not that different from that of the first movement, although in Progress Blues it is more relentless, more impulsively driven. Its fissures show occasionally, as in the “wobbly” phonograph effect that exposes the emotional pretentions of the Hollywood-like treatments of the main theme or the “ticking clock” metaphors of the string pizzicati. Introspection is not absent for long (even the Hollywood-like theme undergoes a dark rethinking as a fugato) but the sheer drive forward and the forces that have given it impetus in the first place, repeatedly succeed in sidetracking any attempt to question the wisdom of this relentless drive or the dire consequences that it may engender. At the apogee of speed and energy, the music suddenly collapses, the clocks keep on ticking ominously and then . . . (well, I will let the music tell you what happens next.) Progress Blues is dedicated to the victims of falsely understood “progress” in Fukushima and elsewhere.

Mozart Requiem – baritone Daniel Thielmann

Putting on a large scale choral work gives the SSO a chance to showcase some of the exceptional vocal talents that Canada has to offer.  For our Mozart Requiem we are excited to present the SSO debut of baritone Daniel Thielmann.

He’s no stranger to Mozart lovers in Saskatoon, as he won over the hearts of many as Leporello in Saskatoon Opera’s Don Giovanni just a few seasons ago.  He gained praise for having a beautiful Mozartian sound as well as his remarkable comic acting.

Daniel, a baritone in the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program, holds a Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Manitoba. Recent credits include the cover for Marcello in La Boheme with Vancouver Opera and Pritchitch in VO’s production of The Merry Widow, the title role in Don Giovanni with the University of Toronto, and Dandini in La Cenerentola with the University of Manitoba. He has also performed the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni with Saskatoon Opera, and Le Dancaïre in Carmen with Opera NUOVA. In 2015 he attended the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden, Austria, where he worked with professionals Elly Ameling, Andreas Schmidt, Robert Holl, Rudolf Jansen, Helmut Deutsch, and others. Mr. Thielmann has also sung with renowned Toronto-based choral ensemble Tafelmusik, and has experience as both a soloist and chorister with Canzona, Manitoba’s premiere Baroque choral ensemble. You can see Daniel in the upcoming Vancouver Opera’s production of La Cenerentola once again as, Dandini.
Daniel makes his SSO debut on March 23rd with Mozart’s Requiem.

Mozart Requiem – tenor Michael Harris

Michael Harris, tenor, Messiah

For our performance of Mozart’s Requiem, we’re joined by long time SSO collaborator Michael Harris.

Tenor Michael Harris was born in London, England, completed his Bachelor of Music at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and earned an Advanced Performance Diploma with Distinction at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

Michael Harris, tenor, MessiahSaskatchewan performances have included Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation and Clausen’s A New Beginning, Britten’s Serenade with the Prairie Virtuosi, the SMFA Centennial performance of Sterndale Bennett’s May Queen in Regina, and has toured with Saskatoon Opera Association in the production of Purcell’s King Arthur, as Lancelot. He has performed many roles through the years with the Saskatoon Opera Association, and most recently in the November production of Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock, in the eponymous role.

Michael was the Musical Director of the Saskatoon Francophone choir Choeur des plaines for the past 11 years, and is also currently Musical Director at St. John’s Cathedral. He was Musical Director for the Saskatoon Summer Players’ production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pinafore, and has been Chorus Master for the Saskatoon Opera Association past productions of La Bohème and La Traviata.

In addition to his operatic and oratorio performances Michael has been a President of the Saskatoon branch of the Saskatchewan Registered Music Teachers’ Association. He currently resides in Saskatoon with his wife Taunya and children William and Branwen, where he maintains a voice studio.

He has been a soloist at various Gustin House concerts, performing such works as Schubert’s Winterreise and Finzi’s Dies Natalis – and most recently Schumann’s Dichterliebe. Michael has been a featured soloist in many SSO concerts, including that of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and is thrilled to take part in this performance of Mozart’s Requiem.