Breaking down Beethoven 9

Beethoven’s final symphony is a monstrous undertaking for any orchestra – it demands the highest quality of playing and demands a great deal of commitment from its listener.

Wikipedia source:

The symphony is in four movements, marked as follows:

  1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso (D minor)
  2. Scherzo: Molto vivace – Presto (D minor)
  3. Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato – Tempo primo – Andante moderato – Adagio – Lo stesso tempo (B-flat major)
  4. Recitative: (D minor-D major) (Presto – Allegro ma non troppo – Vivace – Adagio cantabile – Allegro assai – Presto: O Freunde) – Allegro molto assai: Freude, schöner Götterfunken – Alla marcia – Allegro assai vivace: Froh, wie seine Sonnen – Andante maestoso: Seid umschlungen, Millionen! – Adagio ma non troppo, ma divoto: Ihr, stürzt nieder – Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato: (Freude, schöner Götterfunken  Seid umschlungen, Millionen!) – Allegro ma non tanto:Freude, Tochter aus Elysium! – Prestissimo, Maestoso, Molto prestissimo: Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Beethoven changes the usual pattern of Classical symphonies in placing the scherzo movement before the slow movement (in symphonies, slow movements are usually placed before scherzo[19]). This was the first time that he did this in a symphony, although he had done so in some previous works (including the quartets Op. 18 no. 5, the “Archduke” piano trio Op. 97, the Hammerklavier piano sonata Op. 106). Haydn, too, had used this arrangement in a number of his own works such as theString Quartet No. 30 in E-flat major.

First movement[edit]

Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso. Duration approx. 15 mins.

The first movement is in sonata form, and the mood is often stormy. The opening theme, played pianissimo over string tremolos, so much resembles the sound of an orchestra tuning, many commentators have suggested that was Beethoven’s inspiration—but from within that musical limbo emerges a theme of power and clarity that later drives the entire movement. At the outset of the recapitulation section, the theme returns fortissimo in D major, rather than the opening’s D minor. The introduction also uses the mediant to tonic relationship, which further distorts the tonic key until, finally, the bassoon plays in its lowest possible register.

The coda employs the chromatic fourth interval.

Second movement[edit]

Scherzo: Molto vivace – Presto. Duration approx. 12 mins.

The second movement, a scherzo and trio, is also in D minor, with the introduction bearing a passing resemblance to the opening theme of the first movement, a pattern also found in the Hammerklavier piano sonata, written a few years earlier. At times during the piece, Beethoven specifies one downbeat every three measures—perhaps because of the fast tempo—with the direction ritmo di tre battute (“rhythm of three beats”), and one beat every four measures with the direction ritmo di quattro battute(“rhythm of four beats”).

Beethoven had been criticized before for failing to adhere to standard form for his compositions. He used this movement to answer his critics. Normally, a scherzo is in triple time. Beethoven wrote this piece in triple time, but punctuated it in a way that, when coupled with the tempo, makes it sound as if it were in quadruple time.

While adhering to the standard ternary design of a dance movement (scherzo-trio-scherzo, or minuet-trio-minuet), the scherzo section has an elaborate internal structure; it is a complete sonata form. Within this sonata form, the first group of the exposition starts out with a fugue before modulating to C major for the second part. The exposition then repeats before a short development section. The recapitulation further develops the exposition, also containing timpani solos. A new development section leads to the repeat of the recapitulation, and the scherzo concludes with a brief codetta.

The contrasting trio section is in D major and in duple time. The trio is the first time the trombones play in the movement. Following the trio, the second occurrence of the scherzo, unlike the first, plays through without any repetition, after which there is a brief reprise of the trio, and the movement ends with an abrupt coda.

Third movement[edit]

Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante Moderato – Tempo Primo – Andante Moderato – Adagio – Lo Stesso Tempo. Duration approx. 16 mins.

The lyrical slow movement, in B-flat major, is in a loose variation form, with each pair of variations progressively elaborating the rhythm and melody. The first variation, like the theme, is in 4/4 time, the second in 12/8. The variations are separated by passages in 3/4, the first in D major, the second in G major. The final variation is twice interrupted by episodes in which loud fanfares for the full orchestra are answered by octaves played by the first violins alone. A prominent horn solo is assigned to the fourth player. Trombones are tacet for the movement.

Fourth movement[edit]

Presto; Allegro molto assai (Alla marcia); Andante maestoso; Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato. Duration approx. 24 mins.


\new Score {
  \new Staff {
    \relative c {
      \time 4/4
      \key d \major
      \clef bass

      fis2\p( g4 a) | a4( g fis e) | d2( e4 fis) | fis4.( e8) e2 |
      fis2( g4 a) | a4( g fis e) | d2( e4 fis) | e4.( d8) d2 |
    }
  }
}

The famous choral finale is Beethoven’s musical representation of Universal Brotherhood. American pianist and music scholar Charles Rosen has characterized it as a symphony within a symphony, played without interruption.[20] This “inner symphony” follows the same overall pattern as the Ninth Symphony as a whole. The scheme is as follows:

  • First “movement”: theme and variations with slow introduction. The main theme, which first appears in the cellos and basses, is later recapitulated with voices.
  • Second “movement”: 6/8 scherzo in military style (begins at “Alla marcia,” words “Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen”), in the “Turkish style“—and concludes with a 6/8 variation of the main theme with chorus.
  • Third “movement”: slow meditation with a new theme on the text “Seid umschlungen, Millionen!” (begins at “Andante maestoso”)
  • Fourth “movement”: fugato finale on the themes of the first and third “movements” (begins at “Allegro energico”)

The movement has a thematic unity, in which every part is based on either the main theme, the “Seid umschlungen” theme, or some combination of the two.

The first “movement within a movement” itself is organized into sections:

  • An introduction, which starts with a stormy Presto passage. It then briefly quotes all three of the previous movements in order, each dismissed by the cellos and basses, which then play in an instrumental foreshadowing of the vocal recitative. At the introduction of the main theme, the cellos and basses take it up and play it through.
  • The main theme forms the basis of a series of variations for orchestra alone.
  • The introduction is then repeated from the Presto passage, this time with the bass soloist singing the recitatives previously suggested by cellos and basses.
  • The main theme again undergoes variations, this time for vocal soloists and chorus.[21]

Text of the fourth movement[edit]

The text is largely taken from Schiller‘s “Ode to Joy“, with a few additional introductory words written specifically by Beethoven (shown in italics).[22] The text without repeats is shown below, with a translation into English.[23] The score includes many repeats. For the full libretto, including all repetitions, see German Wikisource.[24]

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,
und freudenvollere.
Oh friends, not these sounds!
Let us instead strike up more pleasing
and more joyful ones!
Freude!
Freude!
Joy!
Joy!
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, burning with fervour,
heavenly being, your sanctuary!
Your magic brings together
what fashion has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend,
Whoever has found a beloved wife,
let him join our songs of praise!
Yes, and anyone who can call one soul
his own on this earth!
Any who cannot, let them slink away
from this gathering in tears!
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
Every creature drinks in joy
at nature’s breast;
Good and Bad alike
follow her trail of roses.
She gives us kisses and wine,
a true friend, even in death;
Even the worm was given desire,
and the cherub stands before God.
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Gladly, just as His suns hurtle
through the glorious universe,
So you, brothers, should run your course,
joyfully, like a conquering hero.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the whole world!
Brothers, above the canopy of stars
must dwell a loving father.
Do you bow down before Him, you millions?
Do you sense your Creator, o world?
Seek Him above the canopy of stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.

Towards the end of the movement, the choir sings the last four lines of the main theme, concluding with “Alle Menschen“, before the soloists sing for one last time the song of joy at a slower tempo. The chorus repeats parts of “Seid umschlungen, Millionen! …“, then quietly sings, “Tochter aus Elysium“. And finally, “Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Götterfunken!“.[24]

One of the great birthday gifts – Wagner’s Idyll

On July 7, 1864, the most infamous ménage á trois in music history took place in the Villa Pelle on Lake Starnberg. It resulted in a divorce, a child, a marriage, lots of rumors, and a mythical piece of music.

Cosima Liszt, daughter of the famed Franz Liszt, was married to Hans von Bülow, one of the most famous conductors and pianists of the day, and a close friend of Wagner’s. The triangle between Hans, Cosima, and Wagner at the Lake Starnberg Villa supposedly inspired a “Starnberg” quartet from him, of which only the theme survived. However, it is now thought that even the “Starnberg” theme originated four months later, while Wagner was alone in Munich.

A definite product of Lake Starnberg was Wagner and Cosima’s child, Isolde. Because Wagner feared that an illegitimate child would anger his patrons, causing him to lose financial support, he didn’t claim Isolde as his own, and acted only as her godfather. Five years and two more illegitimate children later, Richard and Cosima were finally married, on August 25, 1870. Von Bülow never remarried.

During this time Wagner was at work on Siegfried, the third part of his imposing Ring tetralogy. He used the “Starnberg” theme to set the love duet between Siegfried and Brunnhilde, no doubt a reference to Wagner’s own love for Cosima. On June 6, 1869, a son was born to him and Cosima. “[Cosima] has borne to me a wonderfully beautiful and vigorous boy whom I could boldly call ‘Siegfried’; he is now growing, together with my work . . .”

In Siegfried Idyll, Wagner wove together a set of musical references to his love for Cosima and their newborn son Siegfried. The “Starnberg” theme is not only a reference to his and Cosima’s love, but also to Siegfried and Brunnhilde’s in Act III of Siegfried. Wagner’s love for his son is expressed in the Idyll via “Sleep, Children, Sleep”, a German cradlesong. The Idyll is a labor of love, a sumptuous piece of music that expressed Wagner’s paternal and romantic love in a tender and unforgettable way.

Originally entitled Tribschen Idyll, the Siegfried Idyll was composed in Tribschen in 1870 as a birthday present for Cosima. Rehearsals took place with the utmost of privacy; the trumpeter is said to have rowed to the middle of the lake in order to practice without giving the secret away. The work was performed on Christmas morning, on the stairs outside the bedroom. Cosima recorded the performance in her diary: “As I awoke, my ear caught a sound, which swelled fuller and fuller; no longer could I imagine myself to be dreaming, music was sounding, and such music! When it died away, Richard came into my room . . . and offered me the score of the symphonic birthday poem.”

Haydn’s London

Franz Joseph Haydn (March 31, 1732–May 31, 1809)

  • Adagio–Allegro
  • Andante
  • Menuetto: Allegro; Trio
  • Finale: Spirituoso

 

Although Symphony #104 is the only of Haydn’s last twelve symphonies which bears the nickname London, this moniker applies equally to them all. Haydn composed six symphonies for each of his two journeys to London in the 1790s. His tremendous financial and musical successes in England were a source of joy to him, but also made him feel underappreciated in his native Austria.

Also known as Salomon, Haydn’s final symphony was composed in early 1795, and first heard on a concert given for his benefit on May 4, 1795. The first reviewer admired the work “for [its] fullness, richness, and majesty in all its parts,” and thought that it would “surpass all his other compositions.” It is true that Haydn’s last symphonies reflect not only his experience, but originality, profound feeling, and technical mastery.

The first movement, after a foreboding introduction, breaks into a fanfare-like theme for the full orchestra. The portent vanishes with the subsequent cheerful Allegro. The second movement’s soaring melody with free nuances has a pleasant Viennese elegance. The tight energy of the Finale is awesome. Its principle theme is thought to be based on an English street song.

Vivaldi’s glorious Gloria

Gloria in D major, RV 589 Composed: 1715

Antonio Vivaldi is remembered as one of the fathers of instrumental music and the master of the concerto for soloist(s) and orchestra – of which he wrote over 550, including some 240 for the violin. Colorful and tuneful works like The Four Seasons are among the most popular in all of classical music. His operas and religious works also brought him fame during his lifetime. Ordained as a priest in 1703, the redheaded Vivaldi came to be known as “il prete rosso” (“the red priest”). He decided to pursue musical rather than ecclesiastical duties, and became a teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage and school for girls famous for its excellent choir and orchestra, where he worked in several capacities over the ensuing three-plus decades. Meanwhile his concertos and other instrumental works were being published to great acclaim, attracting the admiring attention of famous musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach. In his later years Vivaldi fell on hard times, and on his death he was buried (as was Mozart five decades later) in a pauper’s grave in Vienna.

Most of Vivaldi’s responsibilities at the Ospedale della Pietà involved teaching and the composition of instrumental music. But around 1713 and for the next six years – as the Ospedale’s choir master recovered from a serious illness – Vivaldi’s role expanded to include the writing of sacred works. Sometime during this period he composed the Gloria in D major. As was the case with so much of Vivaldi’s music, the Gloria was long unknown even to scholars. It was only rediscovered in the late 1920s and received its first modern performance in 1939. Typical modern performances of the Gloria include both male and female voices in the chorus. But that wasn’t the case in Vivaldi’s time: no men, aside from priests like Vivaldi, were allowed at the Ospedale, so all performers (even the choir’s tenors and basses) would have been female.

The Gloria’s joyous opening “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” featuring octave leaps and obbligato trumpet and oboe, is followed by a more meditative “Et in terra pax,” with its canonic imitation in the chorus, chromatic harmonies, and throbbing string figures that call to mind Vivaldi’s concertos. Two sopranos are featured in the lively, passionate “Laudamus te.” While the opening of “Gratias agimus te” is stately and homophonic in texture, when the chorus enters in the “Propter magnam gloriam tuam” the tempo speeds and the texture becomes more contrapuntal.

Soprano and violin duet in the slow “Domine Deus, Rex coelestis.” The joyous “Domine Fili unigente,” with its four-part choral harmonies, is followed by the slow “Domine Deus, Agnus Dei,” in which a contralto soloist joins the chorus. After the short, somber “Qui tollis peccata mundi,” the contralto is once again highlighted in the “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris.”

The “Quoniam tu solus sanctus” recalls the work’s opening section, before the complex double fugue of the “Cum Sancto Spiritu” brings the Gloria to a sparkling conclusion.

Cameco and SSO bring Jan Lisiecki to La Ronge

For many in Saskatchewan’s north, this will be the first time they’ve heard a classical pianist of this calibre.

On Thursday March 3, internationally acclaimed concert pianist Jan Lisiecki will bring his talents to Senator Myles Venne School in La Ronge. Lisiecki will perform and talk with students during the day and in the evening he will give a free public performance at Churchill Community School.

Lisiecki is no stranger to Saskatoon crowds – his three recitals here have all been sellouts.  Last year while finalizing his SSO appearance, Jan requested an opportunity to visit a community in northern Saskatchewan and the La Ronge project was set in motion.

That’s when Cameco stepped in to help make Lisiecki’s request a reality. “Nothing like this has ever been done before,” says SSO executive director Mark Turner. “Thanks to Cameco, we’re bringing a world class artist from the stages of Carnegie Hall right to La Ronge.”

For Cameco, it’s about giving northern youth a chance to dream. “No matter what the youth are interested in, they may look at Jan and say, ‘There’s a role model to be like,’” explains Jonathan Huntington, Cameco’s director of corporate relations.

On March 4, 1:30 p.m. Lisiecki will return to Saskatoon to play and speak in Quance Theatre at the University of Saskatchewan. That event—celebrating the SSO’s continuing strong relationship with the U of S Department of Music—is free and open to the public.

At the age of 20 years old, Jan Lisiecki has made a major impact in the music industry.  His recent Carnegie Hall debut garnered him a very loud standing ovation and triumphant reviews.  He is known for his poetic and refined sound at the instrument – his sense of tone and style are paramount to his success.  Jan records exclusively for the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon record label.  His recent release features the Schumann piano concerto.

His Saskatchewan visit will wrap with a concert March 5 with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra at TCU Place in a performance of Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto.

For more information about Jan Lisiecki visit www.janlisiecki.com

Connect on social media:

@camecocommunity  / @ssoyxe / @janlisiecki

jan-lisiecki-poster-La Ronge-01

Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto

For Shostakovich, 1953 to about 1960 was a period of relative prosperity and security: with Stalin’s death a great curtain of fear had been lifted. Shostakovich was gradually restored to favour, allowed to earn a living, and even honoured, though there was a price: co-operation (at least ostensibly) with the authorities. The peak of this “thaw”, in 1956 when large numbers of “rehabilitated” intellectuals were released, coincided with the composition of the effervescent Second Piano Concerto.

Shostakovich was hoping that his son, Maxim, would become a pianist (typically, the lad instead became a conductor, though not of buses). Maxim gave the concerto its first performance on 10th May 1957, his 19th birthday. Shostakovich must have intended all along that this would be a “birthday present” for, while he remained covertly dissident (the Eleventh Symphony was just around the corner), the concerto is utterly devoid of all subterfuge, cryptic codes and hidden messages. Instead, it brims with youthful vigour, vitality, romance – and such sheer damned mischief that I reckon that it must be a “character study” of Maxim.

Shostakovich wrote intensely serious music, and music of satirical, sarcastic humour (often combining the two). He also enjoyed producing affable, inoffensive “light music”. But here is yet another aspect, the “Haydnesque”, both wittily amusing and formally stimulating:

First Movement: Allegro Tongue firmly in cheek, Shostakovich begins this sonata movement with a perky little introduction (bassoon), accompaniment for the piano playing the first subject proper, equally perky but maybe just a touch tipsy. Then, bang! – the piano and snare-drum take off like the clappers. Over chugging strings, the piano eases in the second subject, also slightly inebriate but gradually melting into a horn-warmed modulation. With a thunderous “rock ‘n’ roll” vamp the piano bulldozes into an amazingly inventive development, capped by a huge climax that sounds suspiciously like a cheeky skit on Rachmaninov. A massive unison (Shostakovich apparently skitting one of his own symphonic habits!) reprises the second subject first. Suddenly alone, the piano winds cadentially into a deliciously decorated first subject, before charging for the line with the orchestra hot on its heels.

Second Movement: Andante Simplicity is the key, and for the opening cloud-shrouded string theme the key is minor. Like the sun breaking through, an effect as magical as it is simple, the piano enters in the major. This enchanting counter-melody, at first blossoming and warming the orchestra, itself gradually clouds over as the musing piano drifts into the shadowy first theme. The sun peeps out again, only to set in long, arpeggiated piano figurations, whose tips evolve the merest wisps of rhythm . . .

Finale: Allegro . . .which the piano grabs and turns into a cheekily chattering tune in duple time, sparking variants as it whizzes along. A second subject interrupts, abruptly – it has no choice as its septuple time must willy-nilly play the chalk to the other’s cheese. The movement is a riot, these two incompatible clowns constantly elbowing one another aside to show off ever more outrageously. In and amongst, the piano keeps returning to a rippling figuration, which I fancifully regard as a “straight man” vainly trying to referee. Who wins? Don’t ask – just enjoy the bout!

Notes by

Paul Serotsky

Calling all choristers – Saskatoon Symphony Chorus returns

Last year marked the first year of the Saskatoon Symphony Chorus – and it was a resounding success!

The chorus performed with the SSO for both the concert and sing-along performances of Handel’s Messiah.  After the astounding response we had from the audience to the choir, we immediately planned to expand the chorus’ performances for the 85th season.  In the upcoming season, the chorus’ performances will include Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria – two of the most beloved choral works.

The SSO is excited to have Duff Warkentin return to work with our choir – Duff’s commitment to the text and the music brings out the best in ever choir he works with.  The choir will also work with maestro Eric Paetkau who will lead the orchestra in performances.

Last year’s Messiah performance had many people saying it was one of the best performances they’d ever heard of the work – and this year’s performance is sure to exceed that…there might just be some choruses in the work we didn’t sing last year!

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR AN AUDITION

A hometown pianist worth championing

sam field

Samuel Deason has made a habit of impressing Saskatoon audiences.  Since his days of  capturing the attention of adjudicators and judges as a teen who made playing monstrously difficult music look easy, to his annual performance in his hometown each summer that has garnered him a devoted following, Samuel has made people sit up and listen.

The young pianist has an incredible pedigree having studied with the likes of Marc Durand and Menahem Pressler and getting his start right here at home with Bonnie Nicholson, and has a string of competition titles under his belt.  He’s a seasoned performer, and next spring embarks on a solo tour of Saskatchewan.

Not every pianist is a good fit in the idiom of the concerto – it requires a special talent.  For a piano to sing out over the full body texture of an orchestra the pianist must find such intense clarity in tone, rhythm, and refinement of the piece.  A unique position of being both soloist and ensemble at once.  It takes endless precision and commitment to finding something new to say…something that is their own.  These are the skills that seem to come effortlessly to Deason.

Samuel made his SSO debut after winning the Saskatchewan Concerto Competition…and people are still talking about his Khachaturian more than a year later.  It was clear as he took his last bow on that debut performance that he was a perfect fit to open our 85th season.  A powerful sound at the instrument driven by his physically economic style – as one recent reviewer noted “No ounce of energy is wasted, and the powerful weighted sound easily pours out of Deason’s stature…The body stays distant from the keyboard, and the arms move little despite the wide leaps and difficult dissonant rhythmic passages he is undertaking.”

The Shostakovich Piano Concerto 2 is one of the true triumphs of the genre’s 20th century sound – the composer wrote it for his son as a vehicle to not only make music but show off.  Samuel will make the Shostakovich look like child’s play.  The concerto sparkles and bounces and avoids getting too serious with itself, yet the second movement’s simple melody is a heart breaker.

We are certain that Samuel’s performance will have you instantly out of your seat – and we’re certain it won’t be the last time he brings the SSO audience to their feet.

See Deason’s return to the SSO – click here

sam piano

Only 2 weeks left for Share in the Future

Last December our colleagues at Orchestra London closed up shop. On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, with what appeared to be very little warning, they canceled concerts, and musicians were left with an uncertain future. The city of London, Ont, is now putting the process in place to figure out if there is any way to bring the organization back from the dead.

Why did it all happen so fast? From what I understand, they hit a point where they couldn’t make payroll as they came to the end of their cash flow deficit. A familiar story in the orchestra world.

A friend of mine who lives in London said to me “I was just at their last concert…it was packed. How could this happen?”

The business of orchestras is very complex; the business model relies entirely on volatile variables: ticket sales, funding, and patron and corporate support.

Ticket Sales – While many people think concert tickets can be expensive, the fact is that the ticket price covers only 1/3 of what it costs to put you in that seat for the night. To properly sustain the operations of the SSO we would have to move to a model where our “cheap seats” were $65….for students. Grand circle seats would be well over $200 a night. It’s important to remember that when you come to a concert you are covering not only the performers on stage, but also the staff behind the scenes, the tech crew, the folks at the door, the program you’re reading, and quite literally renting that seat you’re sitting in for the night.

We keep our prices accessible, because after all we’re here to engage a community in a creative dialogue – we want to keep our prices affordable for all. We want a vibrant audience who represents all facets of our city, no matter socio-economic background, age, or place in life. To move to a for-profit model where ticket sales created profit would go against the bigger picture.

Funding – now this is where it gets bleak. Earlier this year, the Canada Council for the Arts announced that it would be “simplifying” over the next three years. What does that mean exactly? Your guess is as good as mine. It likely means that we are in for major cuts to the arts. Hopefully what it means is that the money allocated to the Canada Council will end up being spent more directly in the arts community, creating more opportunities for the arts to have an impact. But I’m not holding my breath.

Also important to understand is that the SSO receives a great deal less funding than other orchestras our size in Canada – our funding from provincial and civic levels are half of what the Regina Symphony receives respectively.

Based on the recent work of the SSO, the new strategic plan and direction, the successful programming, and the truly remarkable renaissance that we’re experiencing I hope that our funding opportunities improve. But it’s going to take more than just me waving my arms to fix this situation.

Support – for the last many years I wasn’t giving to the SSO either. I would buy my tickets but I was not giving. I, like you, was worried that my support was going to a black hole of long term financial troubles.

This was a systemic problem that the SSO had – it dates back decades, and I know that the organization has had to cry wolf many times.

But, we’ve almost fixed it. No crying wolf after this…after this, there won’t be a need to.

Our ticket sales for the Masters series this year are up 33% over last year…and if the last few weeks are indicative of results, subscription sales are about to leap. We have exceptionally strong board leadership – a board that is not only passionate about the arts, but truly passionate about fixing the financial model for the organization.

People have told me for over a year that I just shouldn’t talk about deficit, but guess what folks, without facing these issues head on we can’t fix them.  Our quiet Tuesday will come, and we could be exactly where Orchestra London is now.

Personally, I refuse to let this thing die when everything else is going so well.

People are loving our concerts…so much so they’re showing up in massive numbers. At countless different performances this year I’ve had people tell me that “this was the best SSO concert I’ve ever been to” – the orchestra is playing well, and people are taking notice. Each and every day a new opportunity for expansion comes up…a new conductor, new educational programs, new partnerships, new ideas for old partnerships, growth opportunities literally walk through the door each day.

Share in the Future moves the orchestra, the entire organization, past 20+ years of deficit. It’s some kind of magically time machine that catches us up to the speed of what we’re doing. Your gift then instantly matched by the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation – not only is it incredibly generous but it’s pretty visionary.

You give. The gift is matched. You get your tax receipt, and we’ll give you a free concert in November so that we can properly say thank you. And your name is added to the list of 2000 that stand and say that for them an orchestra is an essential part of their city.

I’m telling you, begging you, to not let this opportunity slip through our fingers. To my knowledge, magical time machines like this don’t come along very often. And frankly if we miss this chance, I’m not sure I’d want to live in a city that didn’t seize this moment and make it clear that music matters.

Please click here to give.

Hopefully see you at the symphony,

Mark Turner
Executive Director

A New Conductor. A New Season. A New SSO.

Its hard to believe that the announcement of the new season is just a week away – to be honest the last few months have flown by…it seems that the momentum that accompanies the SSO these days just keeps rolling full steam ahead.

I am so delighted to welcome Eric Paetkau back to the prairies – working with Eric over the course of the last few months has been truly rewarding.  He stepped in to programming and took the reigns – no small task after the success of the present season…but he has made it look and feel easy.

Next year is pretty amazing.  Once again, each and every guest is Canadian.  Somehow, next season features even more soloists with Saskatchewan roots than the present year.  And season 85 features the most Canadian music the SSO has ever seen: a Canadian symphony, a concert with nearly all Canadian repertoire, a Canadian song cycle, and a brand new pops show featuring a Saskatoon artist.

The season is packed with orchestral hits – four of the most loved symphonies ever written, a piece made famous by a brilliant movie, a great piece of Americana, and the greatest concerto ever written.

And to top it off, the biggest orchestra pops show in the world.  And icing on the cake, a classical music super star.

I’m so excited…but frankly, my attention is still going to be focused on the real task at hand.

Our Share in the Future Campaign has been so successful to date – we set out to find 2000 people to give gifts of $100, and I’m thrilled to say that we’ve found over 500 of those people already!

Its going very well – but if you know me, you’ll know that I won’t be happy until each and every music lover in this city, in this province, steps up and adds their name to our list.

I think that audiences here deserve the very best that the music world has to offer.  I see the vision that our new conductor brings to the table, I see the projects that are exciting our musicians, and I see the outreach opportunities across the province in schools and halls – like Eric says its all about “potential”.  We are so close that the phrase “run, don’t walk” comes to mind.

There’s that old saying “the proof is in the pudding” – our concerts are packed, we’ve never been more engaged with our community, and audiences can’t say enough about how much they are loving the concerts.  We have proof by the bucket full – the SSO is ready for the future.

So lets just do this.  I’d like to issue a challenge – I want to hit the 1000 person mark with the Share in the Future campaign by April 1st.  We have two weeks to get another 500 people to be part of what we’re doing.

Maybe you’ve been planning to give, or figured you’d get around to it later.  Maybe you meant to but forgot about it.  Maybe you haven’t thought about it at all yet.  Maybe you’ve already given and have some friends that you should get involved too.  Its time for us to make this happen.

Each and every one of the 2000 gifts to the campaign are matched by the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation – thanks to their incredible generosity, your $100 becomes $200.  If you’re a couple, your $200 becomes $400.

We are doing this so that the organization can start running ahead with the future – and quite frankly, if we can’t find 2000 people who want to see their city have an orchestra then we shouldn’t have an orchestra.  This is about putting together a list of names that stand up and let it be known that they want to have an orchestra.  Let’s face it, if you haven’t stopped reading my rambling yet, your name should be on that list.

Just think – on November 21st we’re going to put all 2000 of those people in one room with our amazing musicians of the orchestra, our brand new conductor, and one very special guest artist…now that’s going to be a party to remember.

Come meet Eric.  Click here and put your name on the list.

See you at the symphony,

Mark