There is something magical about the rare few artists who really make music. In an era when the classical “superstars” of our day got famous on their ability to impress, nothing feels better than to see an artist of great integrity truly make music.
While sitting backstage watching Timothy Chooi play beautifully crafted Mozart, it reminded me of last season’s star Jan Lisiecki. Both young men are certified virtuosos, but both are sensitive to the needs of the music, and both play with such beautiful phrasing that the art is more important than impressing the crowd.
Last year when Jan Lisiecki finished the final notes of Beethoven’s epic 4th concerto, our sold-out crowd gave him the longest standing ovation in SSO history at 9 minutes.
Jan is doing a handful of recitals across Canada this month, and spends two nights in Saskatoon at Convocation Hall. The concert, in one of the most intimate venues he plays in all year, features the music of Bach, Schubert, and Chopin. I am fortunate to have seen this recital recently, and I can tell you that the Bach and Schubert were both surprising and thrilling…a young man who has something beautiful and unique to say, and it shook me. I see many recitals across the continent each year, and I can say with certainty that Jan is the ultimate recital pianist – an artist who wants the audience to experience the music as deeply as he does. I always think that someday he’ll fail to impress me, and I’m thrilled that each time he proves me wrong.
This concert is important for the SSO, and not just because we should be presenting world class artists to our audience.
Its hard to believe I’ve been with the SSO for three years – its amazing to look back at how far the organization has come in that time. I am incredibly proud of the organization’s many accomplishments in that time. In that short time we’ve retired our debt, restructured the organization and ushered in new fiscal responsibility, and achieved a new artistic standard for the orchestra. We’ve welcomed Eric Paetkau to our stage, increased our programming, fostered the careers of many Saskatchewan artists, and shared the stage with some of the world’s finest musicians. While we’ve achieved so much, keeping the SSO afloat is still hard work.
The SSO is underfunded.
When compared to other orchestras our size, we receive roughly anywhere from $60,000 to $200,000 less in funding. That gap that large stifles the organization. It leaves us unstable and, more importantly, unsustainable.
We need more staff before our current staff burn out; we need to invest in our musicians, in our guests, in our audience, and in new education initiatives. We are working with our funders and dialoguing with them about how we need addressing our funding gap. The reality is, that may take years.
We want to bring performances like Jan Lisiecki’s recital to Saskatoon in hopes to do a few things – new revenues streams help stabilize the SSO, music lovers get the chance to hear world class artists, and it means we’re not going to ask you to buy tickets to a “rubber chicken dinner”. We have exceptional respect for our supporters, and a concert like Jan’s shows that we want to offer you something special in return for your support of the SSO.
I promise that this is a performance you cannot miss. Something special is going to happen on stage…real artistry up close and personal.
I hope to see you at Jan’s recital,