Meet Erin Brophey

When did you join the SSO? September 2010

How did you become interested in music earlier in your life? My mother always cleaned to classical music. I still associate Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with vacuuming and lemon scent.


How did you pick your instrument? I really liked the name. Seriously. I didn’t know what it looked or sounded like until it arrived in the mail.


When and how did you learn to play your instrument? Do you have your own way of learning/practicing? I learned from the great oboe master, Jim Mason (former SSO prinicpal oboe ) primarily in Music School. I have to make reeds for my instrument to make sound…I spend most of my time reed-making!

What piece of music would you most like to play that you haven’t before? Mahler Symphony no. 1

 What piece of music do you love so much you could play again and again? Anything by Brahms.

 Who are your biggest influences in classical music? Jim Mason, Jeanne Baxtresser and Measha Bruggergrossman

 What’s the best advice you ever received in your career? Always be prepared and make more reeds than you think you need.

 What advice would you give to young people pursuing music? Only pursue music if it is the only thing you wish to do……..if you have another interest,  do that.  It’s a calling not a career.

If you could work with one musician/composer/conductor, living or dead, who would it be and why? Poulenc. Based on the music he wrote, I believe he must have had a terrific sense of humour. I betcha I’d enjoy dinner with him,

What’s the best thing about being a musician? The music. Always the music. I love being surrounded by it.

What is your favourite sound?  My daughter’s spontaneous laugh.

Least favourite? (musical or not) My daughters doleful cry.

 What’s one of your favourite memories of playing with the SSO? I love remembering playing in the SSO with my daughter in my belly. She would dance inside me every time the timpani played.

What is your hope for the future of classical music in Saskatoon? I hope that the classical music continues to serve this  community by providing a unique experience of temporal musical beauty that transcends our the mundanity of every day lives.

Gilliland’s Oboe Concerto

SSO audience’s got their first dose of Allan Gilliland’s amazing work last season when he orchestrated an entire show for us to perform with Eileen Laverty.  Though born in England, Allan calls Edmonton home…and its easy to see where his adopted homeland has seeped into his musical styles.

His Oboe Concerto was the perfect fit for an SSO Baroque concert, and it gives us a chance to feature our own Principal Oboist Erin Brophey.

Photo of Erin BrophyFrom the composer about the work:

This piece was commissioned by the Alberta Baroque Ensemble to celebrate their 25th. The idea of composing a piece of new music for an ensemble that specializes in music of the Baroque era provided some interesting challenges. Do you write a 21st century piece of music, do you write a work that is in the Baroque style, or do you write a piece that reflects the textures and gestures of that era but still is rooted in the present? I decided on all three.

I began by listening to a considerable number of oboe concerti from the Baroque period, specifically the works of Tomaso Albinoni. This resulted in a principal theme for the 1st movement that was very much in the Baroque style. I originally thought of developing it in a 21st century language but this proved unsuccessful and I decided to compose a 1st movement that is firmly rooted in the sound of the Baroque (hence the subtitle Albinology).

The theme for the 2nd movement was originally written as a wedding processional for one of my closest friends. This movement is more romantic in tone and the subtitle, Go Deeply Now Everlasting, is derived from the couple’s initials.

The 3rd movement is subtitled with perpetual motion to reflect the constant 1/8th note that lasts throughout. This movement sounds the most “modern” of the three but still reflects a textures common to the Baroque. After completing the work I realized that the over-arching form is the movement from the Baroque to the 21st century.

Take a listen…

Composer – Emily Doolittle

Canadian-born, Scotland-based composer Emily Doolittle grew up in Halifax Nova Scotia and was educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton University. From 2008-2015 she was  Assistant/Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts. She now lives in Glasgow, UK, where she is an Athenaeum Research Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

She has written for such ensembles as Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto), Symphony Nova Scotia, the Vancouver Island Symphony, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble and Paragon, and such soloists as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc, Janice Jackson, Patricia Green and Helen Pridmore, pianist Rachel Iwaasa, violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel, viola d’amorist Thomas Georgi and viola da gambist Karin Preslmayr.

Emily Doolittle has an ongoing research interest in zoomusicology, the study of the relationship between human music and animal songs. She recently spent 3 months as composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. Other interests include the traditional music of various cultures, community music-making, and music as a vehicle for social change.

She was awarded a 2016 Opera America Discovery Grant, as well as funding from the Hinrichsen Foundation and the Canada Council of the Arts, for the development of her chamber opera Jan Tait and the Bear, which was premiered by Ensemble Thing, with Alan McHugh, Catherine Backhouse, and Brian McBride, conducted by Tom Butler and directed by Stasi Schaeffer, at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. Upcoming projects include commissions from the Cherry Street Duo and the Fair Trade String Trio, research on grey seal vocalizations at St Andrews University and a new seal-inspired piece for the St Andrews New Music Ensemble conducted by Bede Williams, and a set of new spring wassailing songs written and researched with the support of a Canada Council for the Arts Grant to Professionals.

Hear her work Sapling live March 25th, 2017 with violinist Carissa Klopoushak.


Meet Carissa Klopoushak

No stranger to Saskatoon audiences, Carissa Klopoushak grew up playing with Saskatoon’s orchestra and now she returns home to make her long awaited solo debut with the SSO.

Carissa Klopoushak has made a name for herself as a curious, creative, and versatile violinist.  A charismatic and engaging performer, Carissa’s playing has been described as the complete package of sensitive musicianship and effortless technique.  Carissa proudly joined Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2014, after having performed with the group for a number of years.  Her debut recording with Philip Chiu, SOUNDWORLDS, was released in November 2016.

Carissa considers all of Canada to be her home. She has toured the country extensively, performing recitals for Debut Atlantic and as the winner of the 2009 Eckhardt-Grammatté National Music Competition with Canadian pianist Philip Chiu. Carissa has been featured at Ottawa Chamberfest, Montreal Chamber Music Festivals, and Toronto Summer Music.  Carissa is a passionate collaborator, performing with many chamber groups including the newly-formed Ironwood Quartet.  She spent much of 2014 performing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, whom she joined for a series of tours and recordings, including a residency at The Banff Centre.

Carissa grew up in the beautiful prairie city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Still active in the prairie music scene today, Carissa is an Artistic Director of the Ritornello Chamber Music Festival, an annual event that aims to provide Saskatchewan audiences the opportunity to hear innovative concerts performed by young, engaging Canadian musicians who are currently pursuing professional careers across the country and around the globe.

Carissa is the lead singer and violinist in the Ukrainian band Тут і Там (pronounced Toot ee Tahm). Established in 2003, the band has released four albums, performed at every major Ukrainian festival across Canada, in Sydney, Australia, and recently toured Ukraine, playing major festivals and small pubs.

Carissa holds a doctorate in violin performance from McGill University.  Her dissertation focuses on the little-known violin repertoire by Ukrainian composers.  A laureate of the 2012 Canada Council of the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition, Carissa performed on the 1869 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin (with Vuillaume model bow); she now plays on a 2009 violin by Mark Schnurr of Flesherton, Ontario. When not performing, rehearsing, or traveling, Carissa can be found expanding her love of coffee in some little café, somewhere…

Tchaikovsky’s 2nd

Tchaikovsky may not be considered a nationalist composer in the same sense as the group of Russian composers known as “The Five” or “The Mighty Handful.” Nevertheless, he retained a love for Russian folk song and Orthodox chant his entire life. His liturgical music includes a setting of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and an All-Night Vigil which draw upon traditional chant. His affinity for folk song led him in 1868-1869 to publish Fifty Russian Folksongs arranged for piano duet. All but one he transcribed himself came from the collections of Villebois and Balakirev.

Tchaikovsky wrote much of the Little Russian Symphony during his summer holiday at Kamianka (Kamenka) in Ukraine with his sister Aleksandra’s family, the Davydovs. The Davydov estate had become the composer’s favorite refuge. Alexandra had, in fact, encouraged the composer to make Kamenka his second home. His affection for the estate bore fruit in his using local songs in the symphony he was writing. He even once wrote, in jest, that true credit for the Little Russian’s finale should have gone “to the real composer of the said work—Peter Gerasimovich.” Gerasimovich, the elderly butler in the Davydov household, sang the folk-song “The Crane” to Tchaikovsky while the composer was working on the symphony.

One of Tchaikovsky’s favorite anecdotes resulted from his nearly losing the sketches for the Little Russian on the way back to Moscow. To persuade a recalcitrant postmaster to hitch the horses to the coach in which he and his brother Modest had been travelling, Tchaikovsky presented himself as “Prince Volkonsky, gentleman of the Emperor’s bedchamber.” When they reached their evening stop, he noticed his luggage missing—including his work on the symphony. Fearing the postmaster had opened the luggage and learned his identity, he sent someone to fetch it. The intermediary returned empty-handed. The postmaster would only release the luggage to the prince himself.

Steeling himself, Tchaikovsky returned. His luggage had not been opened, much to his relief. He made small talk for some time with the postmaster and eventually asked the postmaster’s name. “Tchaikovsky”, the postmaster replied. Stunned, the composer thought this was perhaps a sharp-witted revenge. Eventually he learned “Tchaikovsky” was really the postmaster’s name. After learning this fact, he delighted in recounting the story.

Tchaikovsky had used folk songs in his early days in St. Petersburg and in his student overture The Storm. Now he wanted to use folk songs as valid symphonic material. Tchaikovsky’s greatest debt in this regard was to Glinka’s Kamarinskaya. He believed fervently that in Kamarinskaya lay the core of the entire school of Russian symphonic music, “just as the whole oak is in the acorn”, as he wrote in his diary in 1888.

Kamarinskaya is based on two melodies. The first is a bridal song, “Izza gor” (From beyond the mountains). The second, the title song of the piece, is a naigrïsh, an instrumental dance to an ostinato melody repeated for as long as the dancers can keep up with it. Glinka uses the principle from folk song of allowing the musical structure to unfold around a thematic constant—or actually two constants, since he uses two folk songs. He varies the background material surrounding these songs more than the songs themselves—orchestral color (timbre), harmonization, counterpoint. This way, Glinka preserves the original character of the dance, complementing it with creative variations in the orchestral treatment.

Ideally, the themes in a Western piece interact, contrast and change. This activity fuels the composition’s growth as an organic creation. Tension continues building as this thematic dialogue becomes increasingly complex. This dialogue or interchange eventually propels the piece to a climactic point of resolution. Kamarinskaya does not follow this pattern. Nor can it. The ostinato melody of the second song will not allow any motivic development without distorting the character of the piece. The music repeats itself constantly, albeit with changing backgrounds. Because of this lack of thematic growth, the music remains static, not moving forward. Nor was this a unique problem with Kamarinskaya. Russian music, especially Russian folk music, stubbornly refused to follow the Western principles Tchaikovsky had learned in St. Petersburg. This may have been one reason his teacher Anton Rubinstein did not consider folk songs to be viable musical material for anything other than local color.

For Tchaikovsky, Kamarinskaya offered a viable example of the creative possibilities of folk songs in a symphonic structure, using a variety of harmonic and contrapuntal combinations. It also offered a blueprint on how such a structure could be made to work, barring the potential for inertia or over-repetition. Because of his compositional training, Tchaikovsky could build the finale of the Little Russian more solidly and over a greater time scale than either Glinka or Mussorgsky could have done. Without Kamarinskaya, however, Tchaikovsky knew he did not have had a foundation upon which to build that finale.