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 

Choose Your SSO Adventure

It’s subscription season at the SSO! We’ve carefully programmed 16 concerts for you to choose from. Six Masters, four Pops, three Chamber and three Baroque. You can subscribe to everything, to each series, or make your own series with a flex pack.

Your flex pack can be built around the concerts that excite you most or the dates that work best for you. We’ve put together some other flex pack collections that might intrigue you below:

While orchestras do have the advantage of blind auditions, which means there are more opportunities for equality amongst musicians, the orchestral world is still playing catch up when it comes to female composers. Want a subscription package that includes a female composer in each concert? Look no further than our Masters series! We didn’t choose these pieces because they were composed by women, we chose them because they are beautiful works by contemporary artists. Take our concert on March 7th. We will be doing the North American premiere of Rebecca Dale’s Materna Requiem.

 

Perhaps you want to take advantage of our prairie connections. There is a wealth of talent that has grown up here on the prairies and moved away to continue their education and careers. We are always happy to bring them home to perform with us!

You could create a Praire 5-flex with:
Homecoming (November 16, 2019) with both guest artists and the guest conductor all having prairie roots.
Christmas with the SSO (December 7, 2019) with special guests including Elly Thorn, the University Chorus and our own Dean McNeill.
Thomas Yu with the SSO (February 8, 2020) Thomas returns home to play more Saint-Saëns with the SSO! You may remember when he was here in 2016 to play Carnival of the Animals with Godwin Friesen
Requiem – North American Premiere (March 7, 2020) Soprano Chelsea Mahan and Tenor Spencer McKnight are joined by the University of Saskatchewan’s Greystone Singers for this North American Premiere.
Accent with the SSO (March 21, 2020) Two of Accent’s members are from Saskatoon and we can’t wait to bring them here! We’ve followed their journey online and across the globe.

Make it a Prairie 6-flex by adding in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (October 5, 2019) featuring violinist Véronique Mathieu who now calls Saskatoon home or choose a performance of Handel’s Messiah featuring prairie soloists!

 

If you are all about vocal and choral music we have several options this season! On top of the prairie picks we mentioned featuring vocal soloists and/or choirs (Requiem, Christmas with the SSO, Accent, and Messiah) we are extremely excited to be included in Jeremy Dutcher’s orchestra tour.

Dutcher will be joining us on stage at TCU Place on November 9 and we’ve already had several people asking about single ticket sales. Some of the benefits of subscribing to the SSO means you get tickets before single tickets go on sale August 1, and you get a discount for buying in bulk. Early bird prices end May 31, while there is still a discount for subscribing compared to single ticket purchases, the deals are better the earlier you subscribe!

Prefer your flex pack to be all about guest artists showing off their instrumental skills?

We have cellist Stéphane Tétreault rejoining us for Opening Night (September 21, 2019), Homecoming (November 16, 2019) has Carissa Klopoushak performing a new violin concerto, and Ryan Cole performing a new trumpet concerto, our Christmas with the SSO (December 7, 2019) features Dean McNeill on Trumpet, and Thomas Yu’s performance (February 8, 2020) fits in nicely to this flex pack. Let us not forget that the season is ending with the Canadian piano royalty, Jane Coop (May 2, 2020)!

Here’s Jane Coop performing a Beethoven Concerto, though not the one she will be performing with the SSO. We are excited to have this pianist on stage to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor.

Make it a 6 Flex by adding Four Seasons (October 5, 2019) or Jeremy Dutcher (November 9, 2019).

 

We are always looking for ways to be a more eco-conscious organization and how to do our part when it comes to climate change. We have have been thinking about it so much we have inadvertently included works related to mother nature in several concerts. Enough so that you could create your own Mother Nature flex pack.

There’s the Four Seasons (October 5, 2019), our concert with Thomas Yu (February 8, 2020) includes Canadian composer Vincent Ho’s Earthbeat, paired with the Requiem (March 7, 2020) is Jocelyn Morlock’s Oiseaux bleus et sauvages and our Family Movie Night (January 25, 2020) will take us under the sea.

And one can’t forget the audience favourite The Planets (October 19, 2019). We are pairing the movements of Holst’s work with Canadian composer Heather Schmidt’s Lunar Reflections to give us a whole galaxy tour all from the comfort of your seats in TCU Place.

 

You can create flex packs based on contemporary composers, “the hits”, new works, works new to you, and any other reasoning/combination that works for you.  We may be biased, but we believe you can’t go wrong with any subscription pack from the SSO!

Explore the full season and download a subscription form by clicking here.

You can subscribe any time before opening night by giving us a call or stopping by our new office. Early bird prices end May 31 so the best deals are ending soon.

See you at the Symphony (office)!

p.s. We are working to raise $300,000 by May 31 for this year’s Share in the Future campaign. All donations made by May 31 are going to be matched by the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation. Your donations help us keep our ticket prices more accessible, our outreach programs running, and help us continue to bring incredible concerts to you! Thank you for supporting live music by donating today.

Click here to donate.

Top 5 SSO Stocking Stuffers!

Tickets to the SSO make a perfect stocking stuffer, so we made it simple to know what the perfect gift for your loved ones.

The remainder of our season is jam-packed with incredible concerts, so this list was hard to widdle down!

#5 – Godwin Friesen and Ravel’s Jazzy Concerto

The SSO loves when it gets to showcase the exceptional talent that Saskatoon has raised…and this January is going to be a very special concert.  Godwin Friesen is a National Music Festival winner and the winner of the SMFA Concerto Competition, to name just two of the many awards he has earned himself.  We’re bringing him home to blow you away with one of the most fun concertos in the repertoire.

Ravel’s jazz-influenced Piano Concerto in G is instantly lovely – charming, youthful, and a 3rd movement that just flies!  It’s paired with Milhaud’s jazz Creation of the World.

Click for Info and Tickets

#4 – May the Fourth – the Music of Star Wars

So for fans of Star Wars, May the Fourth is a big deal.  And the SSO has gone and made it a bigger deal.  Hear the exceptional music of John Williams from 6 of the Star Wars movies, including The Last Jedi, with the power of the force, erm…a full symphony orchestra!

Dress up for the costume contest, check out the amazing things in the lobby, and try not to tear up at Leia’s theme…no you’re crying!

Click for Info and Tickets

#3 – Mozart’s Requiem and an incredible story…

A few years ago, the SSO learned about a violin concerto found in Saskatoon.  The composer’s name was Heinz Moehn, and it hadn’t been played since the 1930s.  As we dug deeper in to the world of Moehn we discovered that he was the leading editor of Mozart’s music, and the foremost editor of Mozart’s Requiem.  As we dug in to our music library we discovered that Moehn’s edition is the one the SSO has always played from!

World renowned superstar violinist Timothy Chooi will be joining the SSO to re-premier the Moehn Violin Concerto, and we’re joined by the Greystone Singers and SSO Chorus and incredible soloists (like award winning Sask-born soprano Andrea Lett) for the Requiem.

This is going to be one of the most memorable nights at the SSO.

Click for Info and Tickets

 

#2 The Romance of Romeo and Juliet

We’re celebrating the Bard in a week-long mini festival of music that was inspired by William Shakespeare.  On Sunday February 3rd the SSO Chamber Ensemble is performing a Shakespeare-inspired concert at the historic Convocation Hall.  On Saturday February 9th the SSO is playing the Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

Also on that concert we’re joined by violinist Andrea Tyniac who will be playing a stunning concerto by Vasks, and we open the night with the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra!

It’s romantic, its lush, its got something for every music lover.  It’s not often you get to hear Prokofiev played in this town!

Click for Info and Tickets

 

#1 An SSO Gift Certificate!

Not sure what the perfect gift is for the music lover on your list?  We’ve got your back!

You can call the SSO or stop by our new offices to get an SSO Gift Certificate – you can get it in any amount and it can be redeemed for any SSO event.  It let’s you give the gift of musical exploration to someone on your list!

Call the SSO at 3066656414

Or visit us at 602B 51st Street East – open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

 

A statement from ED Mark Turner

The first thought I had in the moment was that I wouldn’t be able to play piano the same way again.  My life did not flash before my eyes (no pun intended), and time neither stood still nor flew by. And while stories like this are usually told in a moment-by-moment retelling of the event, for me the story is more than a series of events. I cannot instantly recall the initial pain, but I can vividly recall the panic that I’d lost a part of my piano playing ability.  

To be very honest I have been attempting, and failing, to write a note to the SSO community since the attack.  I have wanted to share that I am fully recovered. I’ve wanted to share my thanks for the support and love the community showed to me and my staff whose lives were all changed forever that day.  I’ve wanted to talk about how at first I couldn’t listen to music, but now I rely on music to get through the bad days and the just getting by days. I’ve wanted to talk about the steps we’re taking to give the SSO a safe space.  There’s much I’ve wanted to say, but I haven’t had the words.

On July 31st, I was attacked at the SSO offices by a man who we’d never seen before.  In the middle of a meeting with three of the SSO team, he stabbed me in the eye. Thanks to the quick thinking and giant hearts of my team, I was rushed to hospital and I had the emergency care I needed.  The next few weeks were very difficult, very painful, very emotional, and very draining.  

The bruising, swelling, fractures, and eye complications have all gone, and I have made a 100% physical recovery. I am very grateful to medical team at City Hospital and the Eye Clinic for the care I received that made recovery possible.  

But the psychological effects of being the victim of a violent crime don’t disappear like bruises.  So while the scar on my eye is barely noticable, I’m adjusting to life with scars.

Like many people and, as studies show, nearly all musicians, mental health has always played a role in my life and I have struggled with anxiety most of my adult life.  Whether it’s a musician’s innate emotional connection to their soul or the vulnerability that comes with being a music student, musicians and mental health challenges go hand in hand.  I am very lucky that I don’t have performance related anxiety, and I’m not sure I’ve ever really been nervous to play no matter the size of the audience (though, my teachers Sheila and Penny somehow had the ability to make me question if I’d practiced enough….).  In the mid-2000s I began living with anxiety – it took a long time to understand, and accept, and eventually I was able to manage it. I’ve even given a speech on stage at the SSO while I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. More than once.

So new scars are just that – they’re new.  I consider myself very lucky that in my life I can turn with an open heart and open mind and open ears to music.  I am a voracious consumer and maker of music – it’s my life’s work, it’s my refuge, its my passion, it’s my research, it’s what I turn to when I need time and space. But this summer made me grateful that beautiful music exists and that whether its Bach or Aretha, there’s something for every feeling and every scar.

Safety is a must for a workplace – and because of that, the SSO Board of Directors and I made the decision to move the SSO to a new space.  

The shock and fear attached to the attack had impact on the staff, musicians, Book Sale volunteers, and even our patrons.  This isn’t about us running away from what happened, or turning our backs on the friends we’ve made in Riversdale – this decision was solely selfish: we needed to provide the team that brings you the SSO a space where they could feel productive again.  While I was the one left with a physical scar, the mental scarring affected many people. We have been able to do our work, but it is taking a toll on us.  

We’re thrilled to have found a great new space that has a great music room, beautiful offices, and a wonderful warehouse for the Book Sale. We’re grateful to our neighbours and landlord for making Riversdale such a rewarding home.  And we’re affirming our commitment to being an orchestra for all members of our community, and in continuing the work that has been so important to us in our time in Riversdale.

I’m behind on my work – we lost a month, and though I am back to work I still have days where concentration is difficult.  But I am loving being back at work. Our first few concerts of the year have refreshed my pride in the musicians of the SSO, and they’ve given me the energy to make the next steps for the SSO to be a catalyst for exceptional music making in our community.  

The next time you see one of my staff, please tell them how grateful you are that they are doing what they do for music in our town and how brave they were in the face of terrifying circumstances.  

A move is a lot of work and costs a lot of money, so don’t be shy about helping out!  Come to lots of concerts – there is no replacement for the healing power of music. It means a lot to us when you come to our concerts.

And I’m back at the piano.
Tune your heart to brave music.

See you at the symphony,
Mark


SSO Executive Director Mark Turner wishes to thank the community, near and far, who reached out in the weeks that followed the unfortunate events of July 31st.

The SSO will be moving its offices during the month of November to 602B 51st Street East.

All about that Bass-Baritone Brenden Friesen

Tonight is the night for Bach’s Magnificat! We have a busy day getting ready for the dress rehearsal and finishing final details for tonight’s concert. If you don’t have your tickets yet you should get them ASAP! We will also have tickets at the door and as with every SSO concert #TD25Below tickets are available!

Originally from Langham, Saskatchewan, Brenden Friesen is back home on the prairies to be a part of our concert and to work with our friends at the Saskatoon Opera!

Holding a MMus Opera degree from the University of Toronto, Saskatchewan born bass-baritone Brenden Friesen has captured audiences with his exceptional diction, enormous comedic presence, and incredible interpretation of text (Opera Canada). Brenden recently performed the roles of Leporello and Il Commendatore in UofT Opera’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni , directed by Marilyn Gronsdal, as well as Masetto in Don Giovanni (Saskatoon Opera), the title role in Händel’s Imeneo (UofT Opera), The Police Chief in the UofT Student Composer Project opera Vengeance, and Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers (UofT Opera) under the baton of sensational baritone Russell Braun.

Brenden is very excited to be home on the prairies performing the role of Colline in Saskatoon Opera’s production of Puccini’s La bohème in June 2018. Following this performance, Brenden will be again performing the role of Colline with Highlands Opera in Haliburton Ontario in July 2018. In August 2018, Brenden is pleased to be continuing his operatic career as one of the young artists in the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and making his Montreal debut as Count Ceprano in Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Getting to Know Magnificat Soprano Casey Peden

Did you know that there are five soloists in Bach’s Magnificat? One of the very talented artists joining us Saturday (7:30 pm @ Knox United Church) is soprano Casey Peden! Two sopranos!! Now there won’t be any duelling divas on stage but there will be some incredible music making that we know you must see/hear. We love having  Saskatchewan connections on stage with us and Saturday’s concert is full of prairie artists!

SSO: Where is your hometown and where are you based from now?
CP: Stony Plain, Alberta and now based out of Glaslyn, SK.

SSO: What is your favourite music-based memory?
CP: Watching my dad make music at family gatherings at my grandparents.

SSO: How do you deal with nerve?
CP: I don’t have a concrete answer for that ~ it’s an ever-changing path I am navigating as I go.

SSO: If you could work with anyone living or dead who would it be?
CP:  I would love to have lessons with Barbara Bonny.

SSO: What is your favourite thing about the prairies?
CP: Northern Saskatchewan Lakes ~ I love being near the water.

SSO: What are some upcoming projects, or ones on the go, that you want to share with everyone?
CP: SSSV in North Battleford in July.  It’s a fantastic vocal summer school and its right here in Saskatchewan!

Getting to know Stephanie Unverricht

While Saturday’s concert is titled Bach’s Magnificat, our Principal Bassoon Stephanie Unverricht is actually the featured guest artist on a different piece in this concert. Stephanie will be showing us a more serious side of the bassoon instead of the comedic/character instrument we tend to think of from film. By having Stephanie perform Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in e minor  it is a chance for us to showcase the incredible talent of one of our own who usually uses her talents to help others make beautiful music! It is certainly going to be an amazing concert and we think you should get tickets for Saturday now before it’s too late!

As we are with all our soloists this concert, we sent Stephanie some questions to get to know her a little better.

SSO: Where is your hometown and where are you based out of now?
SU: Saskatoon and Saskatoon J (I feel pretty lucky to be able to have a life as an artist in the same place where I grew up!)

SSO: How do you deal with nerves?
SU: My best defense against nerves is to tell myself that I’m not nervous! My dad taught me to calmly look at my music and say to myself “Hey, I can play that note! And I can play that note too!” until it’s all done.

(Yes Stephanie! You are more than fine!)

SSO: Was there an aha moment that made you realize music was the path for you?
SU:  I started taking music lessons when I was 4, but never thought it would be my career. I suppose my “aha” moment was in grade 12 when I decided I couldn’t NOT play music for the rest of my life.

SSO: What made you choose the bassoon?
SU: My first instrument was the violin, but in grade 6 I had to pick an instrument for school band. I tried the bassoon and found my true love!

SSO: Why do you enjoy playing Vivaldi?
SU: When I chose the bassoon in grade 6, my dad bought me some CDs to listen to. One was a collection of Vivaldi concerti and I remember listening to this CD often before bed and wondering if my fingers would ever be able to move that quickly! (Dear reader, we assure you that they can!) Vivaldi for me is fun and flashy. Even though this concerto is in E Minor, there’s nothing sad about it.

SSO: We recently did 6 word autobiographies with the students of St Mary’s who were a part of Kitohcikewin/Listen up! What would your six words be?
SU: I play bassoon and other things 🙂

SSO: If you could work with anyone living or dead who would it be?
SU: I’d love to work with Beethoven. I think his intense passion would be exciting. He wrote so many great lines for the bassoon in his symphonic works, I’d love to try convince him to write a solo piece for bassoon.

SSO: What are some upcoming projects, or ones on the go, that you want to share with everyone?SU: When I’m not playing in the orchestra, I spend my time teaching lessons and playing with my band Minor Matter. We recently did a show at the UofS in Gallery 2 where we each chose a few works of art from their collection that spoke to us, then performed in the space. I love projects that involve the collaboration of different artists and art forms and look forward to more projects like these. Minor Matter has 2 albums released, an EP “Concept of a Knife” from 2012 and a full length self-titled album recorded in 2016 that are available on iTunes, Spotify and through our website www.minormatter.ca

See Stephanie this Saturday (7:30 pm) at Knox United Church! Tickets are available online or at the door. It’s going to be an incredible night and it is our last concert of season 87!

 

Getting to Know Soprano Allison Walmsley!

We are delighted to have soprano Allison Walmsley join us for Bach’s Magnificat! 

Currently living in Toronto, Allison is coming home to Saskatoon to have her SSO debut. We asked her some questions to get to know some things that are not usually in an artist’s bio.

SSO: What is your favourite music based memory?
AW: There are too many favourite music memories to choose from!!! But I’ll never forget singing Daniel Kantor’s Night of Silence every Christmas for 10 years with the Saskatoon Children’s Choir.

SSO: How do you deal with nerves?
AW: I try to embrace nerves as much as possible. Their existence, for me, is an indication that I really care about the work I do and the music I help create.

SSO: Why do you enjoy singing Bach?
AW: It’s genius. So simple and clean, but every time you come back to it you find something new!

SSO: We recently did 6 word autobiographies with the students of St Mary’s who were a part of Kitohcikewin/Listen up! What would your six words be?
AW: Enthusiastic, Positive, Passionate, Empathetic, Hardworking, Honest.

SSO: If you could perform any piece, regardless of voice type, what would you pick?
AW: Se vuol ballare from Marriage of Figaro, or maybe the Diva Plava Laguna’s song from the Fifth Element.

SSO: If you could work with anyone living or dead who would it be?
AW: Mozart!

SSO: What is your favourite thing about the prairies?
AW: I love the prairies, because having lived away from home for 3 years, prairies means family to me.

SSO: What are some upcoming projects, or ones on the go, that you want to share with everyone?
AW: I’ll be performing in Waterloo in Opera Vera Causa’s Canadian Opera Fest as Kate in The Covenant, and Luna in Padajuca Zvijezda. Both operas will be premiers of female Canadian composers! In July, I’m looking forward to singing Adina in Donizetti’s classic, The Elixir of Love, with Opera By Request in Toronto. I’m also very excited to be returning to Saskatoon in December to sing Messiah with the SSO!

Getting to know Magnificat soloist Spencer McKnight

Originally from LeRoy, Saskatchewan, tenor Spencer McKnight is well known to SSO audiences for his Messiah performances. His eloquent ornaments and crystal clear sound are loved by all! We asked him some questions recently to get to know him a bit better before his performance this weekend at Bach’s Magnificat.

SSO: You’re originally from LeRoy, but where are you based from these days?
SM: Outlook

SSO: What is your favourite music based memory?
SM: One of my favourite memories is getting to perform my first hour long concert at Third Ave United Church in Saskatoon. I learned a lot from that recital!

SSO: How do you deal with nerves?
SM: Being really well prepared tends to help get rid of nerves. Before a show I might get some nerves, but if you realize that it’s just adrenaline you can use for the performance it’s less scary.

SSO: Was there an aha moment that made you realize music was the path for you?
SM: Yes, I decided to drop out of political science and focus on music. Within 6 months of that decision I was representing Saskatchewan at nationals where I won an award – and I was happier than I’d ever been. So I knew I was on the right path.

SSO: Why do you enjoy singing Bach?
SM: Bach is great because his music is so well written that it still sounds fresh today, and figuring out where you fit in all the moving pieces is always a challenge and great fun!

SSO: We recently did 6 word autobiographies with the students of St Mary’s who were a part of Kitohcikewin/Listen up! What would your six words be?
SM: ”He was there, now he’s here” (We at the SSO office think this one is a winner!!)

SSO: What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?
SM: “If you can picture yourself doing anything other than music, do that. If not – it’s worth all the hard work and heartache.”

SSO: If you could work with anyone living or dead who would it be?
SM: Cecilia Bartoli… I would sing anything with her. She is just such a consummate artist. 
(For those of you who follow our Executive Director on social media you know that Mark Turner recently saw Bartoli in performance!!) 

SSO:What is your favourite thing about the prairies?
SM: This will be a very pedantic answer…but the skies. When I lived in Toronto I missed looking up and seeing the huge cloud banks we have here. When I moved back home I found myself staring at the horizon and taking pictures of every single cloud and sunset.

SSO: What are some upcoming projects, or ones on the go, that you want to share with everyone?
SM: Over the past two years I’ve been developing a concert of music from the Great War with Mark Turner. We toured it to a few communities last fall – and are planning on touring it to more communities this fall to commemorate the 100th anniversary of armistice. It has been such an amazing artistic experience crafting the show and sharing it with audiences.

Join Spencer and all our guests at Bach’s Magnificat – Saturday, May 26, 7:30 pm at Knox United Church. Tickets are available at the door or you can buy them here.