Homecoming – The return of SYO and their Featured Alumni

On November 16th, the SSO will see the return of the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra alongside them onstage. It has been nine months since these forces have last joined, playing the Roman Carnival Overture by Hector Berlioz in February. This time, it will be the Slavonic Dances of Antonín Dvořák that will open the evening. There will be more than 60 additional musicians combining with the SSO to bring this music to life.

Within their identity statement, the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra say that they strive to allow its participants to grow as community members and create lifelong friendships. This is clearly realized in our Homecoming concert considering that all three of our guest artists have played in SYO!

William Rowson (our guest conductor) was in the youth orchestra during the last Side-by-Side concert featuring the same Slavonic Dances in January of 1993! He was a member of the SYO violin section throughout the 1990-1993 seasons, starting as one of the youngest members at the time. He vividly remembers walking into the rehearsal room when they were beginning to play a piece he composed himself, being swept up in the soundscape:

Our piccolo player practicing the sleigh ride tune from Prokofiev’s Troika […]  I was very nervous and excited.  I saw everyone looking through my parts that my Mom and I had stayed up all night preparing.   When ever I hear a piccolo play that tune […] I’m instantly brought back to that moment of being so nervous and excited to hear an orchestra play something I had written.

William says he would often bring borrowed scores home to study, so that he was able to better hear all the parts come to life in the group rehearsals each week.

Whether I knew it or not at the time, it was these formative years that really helped shape my life and career.

He was in the SSO’s violin section in the 2001-2002 season, overlapping with Carissa’s time in the orchestra, as well!

On Tuesday, November 12th, William will be at the McNally Music Talk at 7:00pm.

Carissa Klopoushak, like William, has been with us before as a member of SYO (1996-2000), SSO (1998-2006 as our Principle Violin II for the latter 3 seasons), and as a guest artist (in March of 2017). Her fondest memories of her earlier years with the SYO were of the Rosthern retreats, a tour to Langley, and the Banff International Festival of Youth Orchestras (BIFYO) in 1998. She also participated in the Side-by-Side performances during these years, with the first in April of 1996:

My first side-by-side with the SYO and SSO was the most incredible – we played Mahler 1 and it was an absolute life-changing experience for me. I still love that piece so very much and have such fond memories of it.

It is no doubt these experiences helped her see her goal of becoming a professional musician see come closer into her grasp. You will find Carissa playing “like a rockstar” in this upcoming concert in Vivian Fung’s Violin Concerto, as indicated in the score! Following that, she will be leading a masterclass at the University of Saskatchewan for music students and members of the SYO. In the bit of downtime she will get, Carissa hopes to see as much family and friends as possible, getting to places such as Hearth and Museo – but also practicing her orchestra music for NACO’s concert next week!

Ryan Cole, in addition to being in SYO for the 2004-2005 season, was an extra with the SSO in 2009. He was seated beside our Principle trumpet player, Terry Heckman, for the infamous Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz.

I recall trying to read the part while Terry played, and having no idea how he was doing it. I remember trying to stay focused on my part while being amazed at how effortlessly he played such a difficult solo.  This comes to mind because I recently got to perform this exact part for the first time here in Victoria, and I had very vivid flashbacks of this experience sitting beside Terry.

For this upcoming concert, Ryan will be showcased in Marcus Goddard’s Trumpet Concerto, a piece which was specially composed for him. While he is here, Ryan will also be making stops at the University of Saskatchewan for masterclasses, and to give a talk to music students detailing his path to becoming a professional orchestral musician. He will also make a few visits to high schools to a similar presentation to aspiring students. When it comes to food, Ryan is planning to make it to some key places in the city, namely Ayden for a special family supper, Hometown Diner so his expecting wife Kayleigh can have her requested chicken and waffles, and to Alexander’s for some traditional post-performance nachos!

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