New Beginnings – Live Stream only

Our January 15th concert, New Beginnings, will be online only. There will no longer be an in-person audience.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal has been to keep our musicians working and making music. This means that we have taken every precaution to keep the musicians, the staff, and our audiences safe. We have, and continue to be as cautious as possible when it comes to our work. Our individual member’s health impacts the longevity of our organization.
With the Omicron variant becoming predominant in Saskatoon, we acknowledge that what’s safest for the musicians next week is to move ahead without an in-person audience.  Thankfully our streaming platform ConcertStream.tv allows us to bring the concert directly to you.  We’re putting together plans to make the stream a unique digital experience and we hope you enjoy watching New Beginnings from home.

Ice Lanterns for Christmas

This wonderful Holiday idea came to us last season and we think it still deserves you taking time to give it a try:

When we first started planning our Candlelight Christmas concert, we had this beautiful idea of lining the walkways up to St John’s Cathedral with ice lanterns. Patrons would have arrived to our special candlelit evening with beautiful frosty candle light…

Well we decided to do it anyway, even though  we don’t have an audience arriving!

And the result…

We loved it so much we thought that you should try it at home to give your yard a magical glow for the holidays.

What you’ll need:

  • balloons
  • water from the tap
  • a cold night
  • water proof LED lights – like these

This is something so easy, anyone can do it!

Essentially, make a bunch of water balloons – just big enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Pick a nice cold night, and put your balloons out in a snow bank for the night.

Armed with your waterproof led lights (warm white for the effect we got), remove the  ice globes from the balloons and decide how you want to place them.

Then place the light in the snow, and the ice globe on top.

It’s really that easy – and it’s down right magical!

 

Our Christmas Tree Adventure – Part 1

We love the holidays.

They are a time for beautiful festive music, twinkling lights, memorable moments, and wonderful times with our families. We sent two new members of the SSO family out for an unforgettable afternoon filled with power tools and holiday cheer.

*No musicians were harmed in the making of this video

Thomas Schudel’s Winter Suite

Composer Thomas Schudel was born on September 8, 1937, in Defiance, Ohio. A composer, bassoonist and teacher, he completed his BSc in Music Education and Master’s in Theory and Composition at Ohio State University and received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Michigan in 1971.

He joined the faculty at the University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus in 1964 and became Head of the Music Department in 1975, a post he held until 1978. Counterpoint, analysis, and woodwinds were among the classes he taught during his tenure.

Schudel held the position of principal bassoon with the Regina Symphony Orchestra from 1964 -1967 and then again from 1968 to 1970.

In 1972, Schudel’s Symphony No. 1 garnered first prize in the City of Trieste International Competition for Orchestral Compositions. His works have been performed across Canada and internationally; many are published in Canada and the USA. Thanks to commissions from provincial groups such as the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association (SMFA), his music has been showcased throughout the province. The SMFA included his works in their 2004-05 syllabus, thus reaching children in many communities. Other works have been commissioned by the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association and the Saskatchewan Choral Federation, as well as by the Canada Council and the CBC.

During our concert A Winter’s Journey our wind quintet performs Schudel’s A Winter Suite.

Poet Ted Kooser

Our concert opens with spoken-word artist Carol Greyeyes reading a work written by poet Ted Kooser.

Ted Kooser was the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. He is also Presidential Professor Emeritus at The University of Nebraska, where he taught the writing of poetry. For most of his career, he was a life insurance salesman and would spend about an hour and a half writing poetry before work. By the time he retired from his insurance career, he had published 7 books of poetry. Kooser received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book Delights & Shadows.

The work being read at our concert is called December 21, Clear and five degrees. It is from a collection of postcards written by Kooser to Jim Harrison. The entire collection is entitled Winter Morning Walks and there are 100 postcards in total. In the late 1990s, Kooser developed cancer and gave up both his insurance job and writing. When he began to write again, it was to send daily poems on postcards he sent in correspondence with his friend and fellow writer Jim Harrison. In poems both playful and serious, Kooser avoids talking directly about his illness. Rather, he refers to disease and the possibility of dying in metaphors focusing on the countryside around his Nebraska home, where he took long walks for inspiration.

Kooser’s walks have also inspired others. Grammy award-winning composer, Maria Schneider, used Kooser’s poetry to create a song cycle called Winter Morning Walks. It was written for and performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Dawn Upshaw, Jay Anderson (bass), Frank Kimbrough (piano) & Scott Robinson (alto clarinet & bass clarinet).

You can hear a sample on this clip from PBS where the interview Dawn Upshaw and Maria Scneider about the creation of the beautiful song cycle.

Jan Lisiecki Recordings

Love listening to Jan in recital and wish you could hear more? Lucky for all of us Jan has quite the discography available for purchase.

For his eighth and latest Deutsche Grammophon album, Canadian pianist extraordinaire Jan Lisiecki has chosen to return to the music of Frédéric Chopin. Following on from Works for Piano & Orchestra (2017) and Chopin: Études (2013), Chopin: Complete Nocturnes features profoundly personal interpretations of some of the most beautiful and best-loved pieces ever written for solo piano.

Lisiecki is perhaps most celebrated for his masterfully sensitive and refined interpretative approach. His newest release – recorded last October at Berlin’s historic Meistersaal – not only captures the spirit of Chopin’s pianism, but also represents the time and circumstances in which it was made, as the pianist himself explains: “I’m the first to question why we should record something that has been recorded many times before. But music only lives through performance and is different every time we hear it, even when it’s a recording. I think there was something for me to say with this album. It reflects on the last year and my thoughts on that as well as on the escape and understanding that music gives us.”

The album, which was released on 13 August 2021, is available on CD and to download and stream. Listen to Chopin: Complete Nocturnes in the new high-quality spatial listening experience of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music.

You can purchase this album and all of Jan’s recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon website, Amazon music, Presto Music, or Apple Music.

 

 

Frédéric Chopin: Poems of the Night

Chopin’s enchanting Nocturnes and the notoriously difficult Études make up the program of Jan Lisiecki‘s recital, which he titles Poems of the Night. Embodying the spirit of Chopin’s pianism, he offers lucid, profoundly personal interpretations of some of the most beautiful and best-loved pieces ever written for solo piano.

Frédéric Chopin: Poems of the Night
written by Jan Lisiecki

“Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!” Robert Schumann wrote about his contemporary Frédéric Chopin, and it is indisputable that Chopin was, indeed, a genius. Not only did he compose music that has remained current and captivating to us today, he also created his very own language. So recognizable is his style that it will immediately make one say “this is Chopin!” upon hearing just a short fragment.

Tonight’s pieces, intertwined by way of a key-progression, recall a collection of poems in a book: Each one in a different style, telling a personal, particular story which every listener will interpret differently.
They are a space for introspection and reflection, simultaneously embodying what I cherish most in Chopin’s music: the beautiful melodies, the innovation, and – perhaps most of all – the characteristic simplicity and refined elegance which go so effortlessly hand in hand here.

The mystical Nocturnes hail from the night, a realm of emotion and infinite possibilities. While this particular musical form dates back to the Irish composer John Field, Chopin mastered it to a degree that his name has become inseparably tied to the Nocturne. These pieces were among my first introduction to his music at a young age, and have kept me constant company in the years since.

The precise Études literally translate to “Studies” in French and are considered by some to be among the most technically difficult repertoire. In my eyes, technique ranks secondary to their sheer beauty, and pure musicality: every single note is an essential part of a whole. All has meaning, value, line; not a passage is merely ornamental or auxiliary.

Chopin and the piano are one, and his innate bond with the instrument shows in his use of the full range of its tonal possibilities. Some of the spectacular and famous melodies he is so well-known for form part of this programme, but the less familiar ones just as much demonstrate his outstanding writing.

 

Please refrain from applause in between individual pieces.

Pfeffernusse with Margaret!

Christmas is all about the music…but its really all about the baking!

Our Holiday Pops concert this year is special – its the first time we’ll have the full orchestra for our annual festive show in two years…so it feels like we’ve got everyone home for the holidays. It’s going to be a night filled with festive joy.

Last year we decided we would invite ourselves into the kitchen’s of our Principal Bassoonist and Director of Administration for some cookies and toffee, and this year we wanted to try something traditional. Margaret Wilson, the SSO’s Principal Clarinetist, had a family tradition of making pfeffernusse for Christmas and it seemed perfectly fitting for a Holiday Pops that feels like a family homecoming.

Margaret is no stranger to our annual Holiday Pops as she’s been our Principal Clarinetist for 45 seasons! To hear how excited she is for these new arrangements by Maria Fuller means that the concert is a festive treat.

Pfeffernusse is a traditional German cookie that is just the right blend of savory and a touch of sweet. They date all the way back to 1753 and have been part of Yuletide celebrations in Germany since 1850!

There’s even wonderful stories about the composer Felix Mendelssohn traveling a good distance just to get Pfeffernusse, writing: “I can’t conduct the Düsseldorf Music Festival because I have to rest and move to Soden, I’m going to Offenbach with Ms. Bernus to buy Pfeffernüsse.”

 

Let’s get started!

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup minced candied peel
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 3 cups (approximately – probably less) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup rum or brandy
  • powdered sugar

l. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer in large bowl until thick and lemon coloured. Stir in almonds, candied peel and grated lemon peel

2. Sift together approximately ll112 cups cups of flour with the cinnamon, ginger, pepper and cloves. Stir into egg mixture and keep adding more flour until dough almost cleans side of bowl.

3. Knead on lightly floured surface, adding as much flour as needed until smooth – about 1 minute.

4. Divide dough in half: shape each half into log 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic wrap at least one hour.

5. Cut logs into 3/4 inch thick slices: round edges slightly. Place slices on greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature overnight.

6. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Turn cookies over. Bake until centres are firm to the touch and tops are golden – approximately 20 minutes.

7. Transfer to wire racks. Brush cookies generously with rum or brandy; sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Cool completely. Texture and flavour improve if allowed to age in airtight container 1 to 2 weeks.

Margaret’s secret tip: Although the original recipe calls for the spices to be sifted into the 3 cups of flour, I have never been able to work in that much flour. That is why I put the spices into less flour to start and then work in as much flour as need – usually about 2 1/4 – 2 l/2 cups.

Time to get your baking hat on!

A Message from Nutrien

In the spirit of the season, your friends and neighbours at Nutrien are delighted to share the gift of performance with you this evening.

As a supporter of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, we appreciate the efforts of the diverse group of artists and organizers who helped make this special evening possible. It is a testament to what can be created by people who share a vision and commitment to a common goal.

While our growing company has an expanding reach, our purpose is to grow our world from the ground up – and that starts here at home.

Nutrien looks for opportunities to build our community and to celebrate the many gifts that come from being a part of it. Through music, art and recreation, we strive to bring people together in a shared desire to make Saskatoon a better place to work and live for all of us. We, too, believe in creating special moments with diverse groups across our community.

It is our sincere wish that you enjoy tonight’s performance and that we have helped get your holiday season started on the right note.

 

Leroy Anderson’s Music is Christmas

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Not many people do their best thinking during a heat wave. Then again, most people are not Leroy Anderson. The original idea for the light-hearted orchestral romp known as “Sleigh Ride” was born in the mind of the American composer during a heat wave in July of 1946.

Finished in February 1948, the instrumental piece would not receive its classic lyrics until 1950 (when lyricist Mitchell Parish added in the bits about riding in a sleigh and other fun wintertime activities). The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. It quickly became one of the orchestra’s signature songs, and the 45 rpm version was originally issued on red vinyl in celebration of the Christmas season. So catchy was the main melody that other composers of the era tried to pass it off as their own. The main melody of “Sleigh Ride” was used without credit to Anderson in the 1949 western “Streets of Laredo”, scored by Victor Young. Sleigh Ride lyricist Mitchell Parish worked with Young around this time, which might explain how the latter got his not-so-bright idea to “sample” Anderson’s work. That very same year, The Andrews Sisters created the first ever recording of Parish’s vocal version, and the popularity of Sleigh Ride sped off like… well, like a Sleigh Ride!

Although the piece is often associated with Christmas, appearing on more Christmas compilation albums than one can even count, its lyrics leave out any mention of a holiday. Perhaps this is what lends a universal appeal to Sleigh Ride. The song is noted for the characteristic sounds of a horse clip-clopping its way down a country road, and the sound of a whip is featured in most versions to give the illusion of the horse being spurred into motion. The percussionist shines in this piece, for it is they who oversee the creation of these sounds on temple blocks and a slapstick, respectively. Toward the end of the piece, a trumpet imitates the sound of a horse whinnying. 

Sleigh Ride was written in seven-part rondo form, with the first rondo episode utilizing an unusual modulation to the third (and then the second) note of the scale. This is not easy to sing, and therefore many recorded versions of Sleigh Ride err on the side of caution by changing the harmonies or omitting this first rondo altogether. This decision was made for the 1963 cover made by the American girl group the Ronettes. This Phil Spector-produced recording is easily the most popular version outside the traditional pop standard genre, charting yearly until it became the group’s second-highest chart hit in the US (after “Be My Baby”). This version of Sleigh Ride features the beloved “Ring-a-ling-a-ling, ding-dong-ding” background vocals, and makes use of the clip-clop and whinny of a horse at both its beginning and end. That’s two adorable/scary horse sounds for the price of one Sleigh Ride.

But Leroy Anderson was no one-hit holiday wonder. Composing “A Christmas Festival” in 1950 during his time as an arranger with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Anderson originally conceived of the wintertime smash-hit when Arthur Fiedler (the conductor-in-chief of the BPO) requested a favor of him. Fiedler needed a piece of music that would cover two sides of a 45 or 78rpm ‘single’ for the holiday season. Anderson did not disappoint. He created an orchestral medley of well-loved Christmas songs and carols into a compelling concert overture. The main theme of Christmas Festival relies on the tunes of ‘Joy to the World’, ‘O, Come all ye faithful’ and ‘Jingle Bells’, but other favorites (such as ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘God Rest you Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘The First Noel’ and ‘Silent Night’) are also utilized to great effect. Relying on subtlety to pull off such an ambitious combination of Christmas music, the arrangement of Christmas Festival boasts exceptional  orchestration that provides each instrument with a moment to shine. 

Despite numerous contributions to the American orchestral standard genre, Leroy Anderson will be remembered for his prolific contribution to the musical soundtrack of the holiday season. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) have repeatedly lauded “Sleigh Ride”, as it consistently ranks as one of the top 10 most-performed songs written by an ASCAP member. ASCAP named “Sleigh Ride” the most popular piece of Christmas music in the U.S. in 2009–2012, based on performance data from over 2,500 radio stations. And, while Johnny Mathis’s has become the most popular vocal version, Leroy Anderson’s recording remains the most popular instrumental version. As Steve Metcalf put it, “‘Sleigh Ride’ … has been performed and recorded by a wider array of musical artists than any other piece in the history of Western music.” For giving us all a song to feel merry and bright about in these dark and chilly days, we salute you Leroy… and that strange trumpet-horse you rode in on. 

 

You can jump on a Sleigh Ride with the SSO at our Holiday Pops! presented by Nutrien.