The other day I was visiting with an SSO donor. I thoroughly enjoy talking with people who have played a part in this new era of Saskatoon’s orchestra. I always learn something about the SSO when I talk to our patrons – some come because they are passionate about classical music, some come because it’s a great social outing, others because they love live music, others still who want to be musically adventurous.
On this particular day, I was asked an important question. She asked me what my plans were.
Since coming to the SSO nearly three years ago, I’m very proud to say that this is a different organization – and it has been an incredible collective effort: a dedicated board with ideas, a hard working staff, musicians who are doing incredible work, a great musical leader, and an audience who love coming along for the ride. We have changed the way we operate, the way we program, the way we function, the way we budget, and the way we connect with the community. We have a lot of things that still need to be changed, but it amazing how far we’ve come.
But one thing has not changed. The drive for artistic excellence.
If you were at our first concert this season, you sat up in your seat for the last movement of the Beethoven. I’m certain of it. It was full of life. It was why we have a symphony.
I’m proud to say that we’re not the only ones taking notice of this new era of the SSO. A recent peer assessment from Canada Council noted the “energetic performances” that “demonstrated much emotional commitment”. They noted our clear sense of direction. At a recent meeting where Eric and I shared the peers’ comments with the board, Eric said something that summed it all up: “we’re just getting started.”
We have some big plans in the works, but like a good symphony they’ll take a team effort. The reality is that the SSO is surviving, but it needs to flourish…and I believe that our audience wants us to flourish, and is ready to help with that.
We are thrilled about this season – we have some incredible artistic projects and programs underway….but just wait to see what is in the works for the future! We have some of world’s greatest musicians lined up to come to Saskatoon in the upcoming years…and we have a few remarkable community partnerships. We want a vibrant musical community that looks to the SSO for inspiration.
We want to start a music literacy program – the future of our music community relies on planting the seed of musical interest in the minds of our youth. We have a chance to bring Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program to Saskatoon, and we want to launch a new musical mentorship program Kitocikewin for students who presently don’t have access to any music education. We are ready and waiting to launch these programs…but with our current situation of being under funded, we don’t have an Education Coordinator. We need one. Soon.
We want to record. Nope, scratch that. I think the SSO has the potential to produce an award winning record, and because I like to dream big I’m going to say I’d like us to win a JUNO. We have some guest artists who are wanting and excited to work with us on recordings. Recording creates more work for our musicians. Recording allows people across this country to hear what is happening in Saskatoon.
We want to do more to be an incubator in our music community – we want to encourage the development of young musicians, create opportunities for emerging artists, create opportunities for collaborations, performances, and ideas to come to life. We want to create artistic bridges that enrich and inspire and close the gaps. We want to be a space where the musical eco-system thrives and grows. Big dreams are important.
Artistic excellence takes time, and it takes hard work, and it takes passion, and we’re going to need your help. The next steps of our artistic excellence are within reach, can you hear it?
See you at the symphony,