Hatzis’ Thunder Drum

Co-commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia with a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, Thunder Drum is a work for small orchestra and audio playback. (The audio playback is delivered from a MIDI keyboard.) Although the music of the outer movements is reminiscent of Western European 19th Century music and of more recent epic film sountracks, the underlying theme is informed by a vision of human prehistory expounded by the American mystic Edgar Cayce related to the shifting fortunes of what has been traditionally known as the “red race”, the native inhabitants of the north and central regions of the American continent. A great and lasting influence in my thinking and artistic imagination, Edgar Cayce (1877 – 1945) had mentioned in several of his trance utterances that the antediluvian world we know through legend as “Atlantis” was an advanced civilization dominated by the “red race” which had reached knowledge and technological heights comparable to our own. It fell spectacularly, having pushed its unquenchable thirst for ever increasing energy and power to ecological havoc, as our current civilization too is in danger of reaching with an exponentially increasing likelihood.

 Elegy for a Lost World, the first movement of Thunder Drum, is a musical meditation on this loss, which is traumatically felt by our collective psyche as deep seated memory, in spite of the absence of any external evidence for the existence and loss of such an advanced civilization in our collective past. Beginning and developing along 19th Century European common harmonic and melodic practice (another vanishing world), the music is a vague reminiscence of a two-theme classical sonata form. Rising and then falling, the first lament-like theme is occasionally succeeded by another of serene reminiscence whose infrequent appearance only serves to highlight the sense of loss represented by the first theme. This melodic/harmonic discourse is gradually overtaken by denser chromaticism and accompanying musical tension, exacerbated by the technological “fly by” sound effects of the playback audio which are becoming ever more prominent. The movement concludes with a Beethovenesque tragic cadence.

 Games, the second movement, is a great leap to the present moment. The industrial like “quantized” loops in the playback audio with their unexpected twists and turns are combined with pre-recorded samples by Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, one of the world’s best known Inuit artists, (used by permission from a recording session with Tanya for our collaboration on the ballet Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation). This sonic background constantly challenges an agile orchestra to technically rise to its unpredictable rhythmic demands, a task increasingly frustrated by metric modulations and other devices of rhythmic complexity. Fiendishly challenging for the conductor to keep the orchestra and the playback together, this erratic and increasingly aggressive movement ends with a series of short modal melodic gestures, which are rather foreign to the otherwise consistent sonic world of this movement but presages the thematic material of the third movement

Without any pause, Reconstitution, the third movement, begins quietly with a timid thematic development of the aggressive modal gestures that concluded the previous movement. They are in quintuple meter, the number five being a numerological indicator of human strife and aggression (pentagon, pentagram, etc.). The music once more picks up pace and energy and, this time around, it ends in an epic, triumphant but also hollow ending with the opening theme of Thunder Drum modulating to an altered major-like mode. In the aftermath of this triumphant conclusion, however, the two modes, the major and the minor are constantly alternating, suggesting an ambivalence and incompleteness that needs to be mediated upon in a future compositional essay. As history teaches us repeatedly, the phenomenon of the oppressed rising to power and dominance only creates a new imbalance of oppressors and oppressed with roles simply reversed, unless a deeper understanding of human purpose is learned through this macro-historical exercise. While rising to dominance may look and sound like historical justice, it does not address humanity’s deeper challenges and aspirations: of each and every one of us becoming our “brother’s keeper”; of treating others as we would have them treat us—the deeper (and perhaps only) Christian message.

Discovering Vivaldi in the 20th Century

While the name Vivaldi is a household classical name, its easy to forget that until the early 20th century his music had been completely forgotten.

By 1926, nearly all of Vivaldi’s work had been lost. So when Turin University musicologist Alberto Gentili was presented with a box of incomplete, unsorted pages from hundreds of Vivaldi’s compositions, he began a ten-year investigation to hunt down the remaining pages and place them in their original order. The end result: 319 complete Antonio Vivaldi compositions that had been lost to the world for nearly two centuries.

The explosion of new work from Vivaldi—a relatively obscure musician whose influence had been long-acknowledged, but whose music had all but disappeared—gave his work a new public debut. It was as if Vivaldi had been born a second time, and had a very short, implausibly prolific career. By the 1950s, his music held a unique place in the canon: Antonio Vivaldi was acknowledged by scholars as one of the greatest and most influential classical musicians in history, but he was also seen by the listening public as fresh, mysterious, and unfamiliar. No other composer of similar prominence has experienced that kind of rebirth, and it’s unlikely that any ever will.

The SSO explore two incredible Vivaldi works this week with violinist Pascale Giguere for our first Baroque Series concert of the year.

SSO’s Picasso Connection

Saskatoon’s art scene is coming of age this week.

Opening the Remai Modern is the most highly anticipated arts events of the decade in Saskatoon.  And particularly exciting for Saskatoon to have a chance to finally see its remarkable new Picasso collection on display for the first time.

In 1964, the same year that the Mendel Art Gallery opened, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new work by Canada’s leading composer of the time, Harry Somers.  Somers was paramount to the development of the identity of Canadian classical music, and was involved in the development of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Music Centre.  Among his many notable compositions is his opera Louis Riel which was written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the confederation of Canada.

The 1960s proved to be a pivotal decade in Somers’ career. He became more involved in diverse aspects of the Canadian music scene and his career as a composer finally took off. Although he had struggled to make a living on his compositions prior to this point in his career, this was the decade in which Somers no longer needed to hold a permanent position at any establishment and instead was able to live off of his commissions alone.

He began the decade by returning to Paris for more compositional studies, thanks to a Canada Council for the Arts fellowship. While there, he concentrated on Gregorian chant, particularly its revival by the Solesmes Abbey.

When he returned to Canada, Somers became interested in how young people were being exposed to and educated about Canadian music. He sought to improve upon their education via a number of different methods. In 1963, he became a member of the John Adaskin Project, which was an in-school initiative involving the teaching and performance of Canadian music in schools. Also in 1963, Somers began his part-time career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation by hosting televised youth concerts.

John Adaskin was the brother of Murray Adaskin who was the SSO’s 4th Music Director.  Through the Adaskin connection, the SSO commissioned a new work for chamber orchestra from Somers.

In 1964, Somers wrote the SSO the “Picasso Suite”.  It was adapted from music for a television program on the life of Picasso. The suite is nine movements long. The performing forces consist of: a flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, strings, two percussionists, piano, and celesta.  It’s jazz infused and captures the many artistic eras of Picasso’s life…the Blue period, Cubism, Neo-Classical, you get the idea!

The first movement, “Paris 1900 – Snapshot” is in B flat major. it is marked Allegro and is in 4/4 time. It opens with a trombone glissando, which leads directly into a snappy parody of a ragtime melody played by the trumpet and trombone. The piano and percussion parts are improvised over a pizzicato bass. The short, symmetrical phrases feature syncopated rhythms. A siren, whistle, and triangle add color. The final measures are marked accelerando.
The eighth movement, “Arcadia – Faun with Flute – Innocence” is in G major. The tempo is marked allegretto. It is in 3/4 time and is played in a delicate waltz style. The melody is derived from a simple Spanish folk song. The music box-like theme is played first on the solo glockenspiel. The solo flute repeats the melody to a simple pizzicato accompaniment. The enchanted mood is maintained by the celesta and glockenspiel in the closing measures.

Click to Take a listen!


Piazzolla’s Four Seasons

When you hear “Four Seasons” do you think about Buenos Aries and tangos?
Well, you should.
The great Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla made his mark on the world bringing the distinctly South American sounds and rhythms to composed music.  His tangos set him apart from contemporaries and allowed him to leave a unique footprint on 20th Century music.
He had written individual pieces on the seasons for his tango quintet; sometimes he played them as a set. but he primarily played them as stand-alone pieces.
Then in 1998t, he Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov took Piazzolla‘s seasons and created the Estaciones Portenas, the Four Seasons of Buenos Aries for solo violin and string orchestra.  The works are virtuosic showstoppers, and each include a little hint of the original Vivaldi Four Seasons.
We have pulled out all the stops for our November 4th performance of the work – violinist Pascale Giguere won praise and awards for her performances and recording of Piazzolla‘s Seasons. She joins the SSO as guest concertmaster and soloist for our first Baroque concert of the year – she is not to be missed!
So if you’re sitting at our November 4th performance of these incredible pieces, listen carefully for the quotes of Vivaldi’s music in the Piazzolla.  But remember, transferring hemispheres means switching seasons….Vivaldi’s Winter would have been Piazzolla‘s Summer….
Join us November 4th for a trip to Buenos Aires with Pascale Giguere and the SSO Chamber Orchestra.

Introducing Pascale Giguere

The SSO is thrilled to bring one of Canada’s finest violinists as soloist and guest concertmaster for our first Baroque Series event of the year – there’s a good reason why her Vivaldi and Piazzolla are not to be missed!

Pascale Giguère has been a member of Les Violons du Roy since 1995. She was co-concertmaster from 2000 to 2013, and has been concertmaster since 2014. She has performed with the ensemble in some of the world’s leading venues, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and Carnegie Hall in New York, and at leading festivals in Canada, the United States and Europe. Pascale Giguère has also taken part in recordings with Les Violons for the labels Dorian, Atma and Virgin Classics.

In recent years, Pascale Giguère has appeared as a soloist with Les Violons du Roy, in particular in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons; the latter work was recorded by Atma and received a Juno award. She has also performed with the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, Orchestre symphonique de Laval and Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens, with which she played Stravinsky’s Concerto in D, an experience she repeated in December 2006 with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec conducted by Yoav Talmi. In recent seasons she has appeared as a guest soloist at the Domaine Forget international festival and the Parry Sound Festival.

Pascale Giguère studied at the Montréal Conservatory with Raymond Dessaints, obtaining Premier Prix diplomas in violin and chamber music. She has also won several important prizes, including Grand Prize at the CIBC National Music Festival, First Prize at the Orchestre symphonique de Québec competition, and the prestigious Prix d’Europe award in 1993, which allowed her to continue her studies at Boston University with Roman Totenberg, Peter Zazovski and the Muir Quartet.

Pascale leads the SSO on November 4th as guest concertmaster and soloist in Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

Introducing Alexander Shelley

Conductor Alexander Shelley’s impact on the National Arts Centre Orchestra is already being heard.  

The 38 year old British conductor took the position of Music Director of Canada’s national orchestra in 2015 and since then the orchestra has embarked on some remarkably ambitious projects.  Shelley’s first move was to commission four new works for the program Life Reflected.

NACO’s visit to Saskatoon marks Shelley’s first visit and performance to Saskatchewan.

Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised by the Ottawa Citizen as “an orchestra transformed […] hungry, bold, and unleashed” and Shelley’s programming credited by Maclean’s Magazine for turning the orchestra “almost overnight […] into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.”

Born in London in October 1979, Shelley, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition, with the press describing him as “the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality.” He has been Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra since September 2009 where he is credited with transforming the orchestra’s playing, education work and touring activities. These have included concerts in Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna.

In January 2015 he assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.

Described as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium” (Daily Telegraph) Shelley works regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia. This season sees him returning twice to Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as to the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, DSO Berlin, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Frankfurt Radio, Gothenburg, Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. Forthcoming debuts include Bergen, Helsinki and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

In January 2017 he again leads Germany’s National Youth Orchestra on an extensive national tour, with performances in the Philharmonic Halls of Berlin (broadcast live on Digital Hall), Cologne and Essen, as well as Hamburg Opera and the Semperoper Dresden. This follows a similar tour in 2014, which included a collaborative concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival with Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Shelley’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (Royal Danish Opera); La Bohème (Opera Lyra / National Arts Centre), Iolanta (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen), Cosi fan tutte (Montpellier) and The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North) in 2015. In 2017 he leads a co-production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel with the NACO and Canadian Opera Company.

Possessing an “uncanny gift for looking past but not indiscriminately discarding accumulated traditions and forming his own interpretations of familiar pieces” (Voix des Arts) Shelley’s first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, an album with Daniel Hope and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, was released in September 2014. Shelley’s second recording for Deutsche Grammophon, “Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood” is a brand-new adaptation of the Prokofiev children’s classic recorded with the Bundesjungendorchester. Available as both an album and app, it also features in DG’s ground-breaking interactive digital storytelling project, developed with the celebrated New York production company Giants Are Small.

Shelley enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he performs regularly both in their subscription concerts and around Germany. In 2013 he led the orchestra on tour to Italy with a signature programme of Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. He is Artistic Director of their Zukunftslabor project – an ECHO and Deutsche Gründerpreis winning series which aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration.

Through his work as Founder and Artistic Director of the Schumann Camerata and their ground-breaking “440Hz” series in Düsseldorf during his studies and through his leadership of outreach projects in Nuremberg, Bremen and Ottawa, inspiring future generations of classical musicians and listeners has always been central to Shelley’s work. He regularly gives informed and passionate pre- and post-concert talks on his programmes, interviews and podcasts on the role of classical music in society and has a wealth of experience conducting and presenting major open-air events. In Nuremberg alone he has, over the course of eight years, hosted more than half a million people at the annual Klassik Open Air concerts – Europe’s largest classical music event.

Don’t miss Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra on October 23rd at TCU Place.
Click for Tickets

Jan Lisiecki – Artist Profile

Just 22, Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has won acclaim for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound, and poetic sensibility. The New York Times has called him “a pianist who makes every note count”. Lisiecki’s insightful interpretations, refined technique, and natural affinity for art give him a musical voice that belies his age.

Jan Lisiecki was born to Polish parents in Canada in 1995. He began piano lessons at the age of five and made his concerto debut four years later, while always rebuffing the label of “child prodigy”. His approach to music is a refreshing combination of dedication, skill, enthusiasm and a realistic perspective on the career of a musician. “I might be lucky to have talent, but it is also about dedication and hard work,” says Jan.

Lisiecki was brought to international attention in 2010, after the Fryderyk Chopin Institute issued a recording of Chopin’s piano concertos, performed live by Jan at age 13 and 14. BBC Music Magazine wrote of the “mature musicality” of his playing and commended the “sensitively distilled” insights of his Chopin interpretations; the release was awarded the prestigious Diapason Découverte. Confirming his status among the most imaginative and poetic pianists of his generation, Deutsche Grammophon signed an exclusive contract with Jan in 2011, when he was just 15 years old. Lisiecki’s first recording for DG, released in 2012, features Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 466 and 467. It was followed in 2013 by Chopin’s Etudes Op. 10 and 25, praised by Gramophone magazine for being “played as pure music, given as naturally as breathing”.

His latest album, issued in January 2016, presents Schumann’s works for piano and orchestra, and as ClassicFM wrote, “he may be young but Jan Lisiecki plays Schumann like a legend”.

Jan says his aim is to always perform in a way that carries forward the beauty and brilliance of the original work. He has demonstrated that he is capable of rendering compositions remarkably close to the way they were intended. “Going into a concert hall should be like going into a sanctuary. You’re there to have a moment of reflection, hopefully leaving feeling different, refreshed and inspired.”

In March 2013, Lisiecki substituted at short notice for Martha Argerich, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in Bologna with the Orchestra Mozart under Claudio Abbado. He crowned that season with a sensational account of Schumann’s Piano Concerto at the BBC Proms. The following year he performed three Mozart concertos in one week with the Philadelphia Orchestra, making his debuts as concerto soloist with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milan, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The same season, Jan gave debut recitals at Wigmore Hall, Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and in San Francisco. The pianist’s development has taken place in company with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic, and BBC Symphony, at venues such as Suntory Hall, the Kennedy, Lincoln, and Barbican Centres, and Royal Albert Hall. Jan has cultivated relationships with prominent conductors including Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniel Harding, and Pinchas Zukerman.

The remarkable 20-year-old musician made his debut in the main auditorium at New York’s Carnegie Hall in January 2016. In its rave review, the New York Times noted that it was an “uncommonly sensitive performance”. Other significant dates in his 2015/16 schedule include performances with the Bamberger Symphoniker in Lucerne, subscription series debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and multiple tours, including one of Europe with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, which Jan is leading from the piano.

Foremost radio and television networks in Europe and North America have extensively broadcast Lisiecki’s performances, he was also the subject of the CBC National News documentary The Reluctant Prodigy. In 2013 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and was also named as Gramophone magazine’s Young Artist of the Year.

Jan is involved in charity work, donating his time and performance to such organizations as the David Foster Foundation, the Polish Humanitarian Organization and the Wish Upon a Star Foundation. In 2012 he was named UNICEF Ambassador to Canada having been a National Youth Representative since 2008.

“Jan Lisiecki. Remember the name.” – The Financial Times.

NACO’s I Lost My Talk

I Lost My Talk is based on the poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M. Rita Joe penned her poem to express not only the pain and suffering she experienced at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her words could guide and inspire indigenous and non-indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing. NAC award composer John Estacio has created a lush musical score which is performed in synergy with a film by world-renowned director Barbara Willis Sweete.

The film, shot in High Definition on the shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario, features 10 First Nations dancers moving in choreography created by Santee Smith Tekaronhiáhkhwa, Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. Rita Joe’s poem is narrated by Guna and Rappahannock actor Monique Mojica. Visual designers Normal bring the film to life on screens that immerse the orchestra and audience. (This work premiered January 14, 2016). Duration 20 minutes.

Commissioned for the National Arts Centre Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of the Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family.

I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe

I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.

Alexander Shelley reflects on the creation of I Lost My Talk

In a way, we spend our lives searching for our sense of self. For most of us it is a slow burn, an adventure explored on our own terms, in our own time. For others, the sense of self is challenged brutally and abruptly – violently even. We see it across the world on a daily basis – peoples torn away, displaced, their cultures threatened as they yearn for a home that no longer exists.

This powerful performance explores the themes of exile, resistance and displacement and ultimately celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

The great Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M. – as with the other composers on our program – faced an insidious attack on her identity and did so with honour, wisdom, integrity and enormous compassion. Her powerful message of hope encourages peaceful reconciliation and was the inspiration behind this unique symphonic experience that combines music, motion and film.

As soon as I read “I Lost My Talk”, I knew that I wanted to engage with it, that I wanted it to be part of our creative lives, that I wanted us to carry her beautiful and dignified message to our audiences both nationally and internationally. Importantly and poignantly, her message also transcends its Canadian roots at a time when more and more people of different heritages are having to learn to listen and to understand

Donna Feore shares her experience with producing and directing I Lost My Talk

Rita Joe’s poem I Lost My Talk is mother to all the creative collaborations that make up this performance. It was my goal to unite each artist through their unique response to Rita Joe’s words — Rita’s language. No matter how disparate their disciplines, we would find ways to communicate, to inspire. Music is a language. Dance is a language. Film is a language. All three are universal. Rita’s is not. Rita’s is intensely personal and painful. And yet her story must be told and retold for it touches us, universally. Rita Joe is our Elder. I hope what follows proves with what devotion we have begun to listen.

John Estacio describes his composition I Lost My Talk

In fifteen lines of poetry, Rita Joe’s poem I Lost My Talk captures the discombobulating fear of being forced to leave one’s culture. Just as the poem is divided into four stanzas, the composition is divided into four uninterrupted movements.

A bucolic flute solo captures the narrator’s life prior to attending Shubenacadie Residential School. Strings play a hymn that suddenly transforms into a harsh musical environment; the flute melody is now fractured and lost within a foreign tonal soundscape.

Throughout the second movement, as shattered musical themes recover, the percussion and lower brass frequently interrupt, forcing the melody to regroup and move forward into an atmosphere that becomes relentlessly oppressive.

With the words “you snatched it away,” an aggressive third movement begins; the solo flute returns, swept up in frantic momentum. A percussion solo ushers the return of the hymn, now fraught and anguished. With the text “two ways I talk,” the hymn is played in two different keys simultaneously.

With “I offer my hand,” the noble fourth movement begins; here, an anthem for reconciliation soars as the narrator finds the courage to act as an ambassador, bringing peace and understanding to two different cultures as well as her own life.

Introducing Janna Sailor

Janna Sailor returns home to Saskatchewan to make her conducting debut with the SSO in the opening night of our Pops Series, Stardust – the music of David Bowie.

Conductor and violinist Janna Sailor is firmly established as a conductor, violinist, and musical innovator of extraordinary scope and versatility.  Originally from rural Saskatchewan, she began her musical studies at the age of three and performing with professional orchestras at the age of thirteen.

In June 2016, Janna founded the Vancouver based Allegra Chamber Orchestra, one of the only all-female classical orchestras in the world; an ensemble dedicated to creating opportunities for women and minorities in the music industry, with a mandate of social action through music. The orchestra has been featured on CBC Radio,German Public Radio, Radio ICI, the Strad magazine, The Violin Channel, The Walrus, The Hub magazine, as well as other publications and media outlets across North America and Europe.  Janna has conducted major orchestras and ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Vancouver Bach Choir, among others. Janna has held conducting positions with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra. 

In addition to conducting, Janna enjoys a diverse career as violinist, delving into contemporary, world and early music, jazz, and classical crossover, in addition to chamber and solo engagements. Ensembles she has performed with include the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Tafelmusik.  Janna has served as concertmaster with both the Montreal based l’Orchestré de la Francophonie (2011) and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada (2014).  

In 2012 she co-founded Cordei Contemporary Harp and Violin Duo, one of Vancouver’s premier new music ensembles. Since its inception Cordei has commissioned numerous works from Canadian composers including chamber operas, award winning scores for silent film, works for multimedia and electronics, in addition to collaborations with dance companies and visual art installations.  The duo was awarded a Jessie for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for their work on the Patrick Street Production of The Light in the Piazza, and SOCAN Award (2014) for Best Original Film Score for their collaboration on the silent dance film, Zyra.

In addition to being active in the TV and movie industry, she has performed alongside artists such as Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Kenny G, Mary J. Blige, Chris Botti, The Canadian Tenors, Il Volo, Frank Sinatra Jr.,  Mary Margaret O’Hara and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. She has performed on two of Michael Buble’s Christmas Specials on NBC, and performed for heads of state including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan, the Korean Consulate, and members of the Senate of Canada.

Janna completed her studies in violin and conducting at the Brandon School of Music and the University of British Columbia, and currently resides in Vancouver, Canada.

The Return of James Ehnes


There has always been something special about the way James Ehnes plays the violin.  The clarity of sound, the elegant phrasing, and his heightened attention to detail have made him a performer in a class unto himself.  

James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Mr. Ehnes first gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the Grand Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition. The following year he won the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At age 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

In the 2016-2017 season James continues his cross-Canada recital tour in celebration of his 40th birthday, performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas in Stresa, Montreux, Los Angeles, Liverpool, and Amsterdam, and joins the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on a tour of China and the National Arts Centre Orchestra on a tour of Eastern Canada. James also holds artist residencies with the Melbourne Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the Scotia Festival, undertakes two tours with the Ehnes Quartet, and leads the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Artistic Director.

New and upcoming CD releases include a disc of works by Debussy, Respighi, Elgar and Sibelius as well as a recording of Beethoven’s Sonatas Nos. 6 and 9 (“Kreutzer”) with pianist Andrew Armstrong, the Sibelius and Schubert “Death and the Maiden” quartets with the Ehnes Quartet, and the complete works of Beethoven for violin and orchestra with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Andrew Manze. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a GRAMMY, a Gramophone, and 11 JUNO Awards.

His Opening Night performance with the SSO marks his return to the orchestra’s stage for the first time in over 15 years.