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 whittle down!

#5 – Firebird and Strauss this May

 

Sounds like a long time to wait for your gift of tickets to be used, but this concert is going to be one of the highlights of the SSO’s history. Maestro Nicolas Ellis is back with us this season as one of our artistic partners, and he specifically chose Stravinsky’s Firebird to represent the world returning to life after these last few difficult years. Paired with Strauss’ Op 27 Songs performed by soprano and SSO audience favourite Danika Loren, this concert is going to be sensational!

Click for tickets and info

#4 – Jan Lisiecki’s concerto return

Jan Lisiecki is one of the biggest classical artists of the 21st century – and he’s returning to Saskatoon to play some Grieg.

At just 27, Lisiecki’s career has already spanned two decades and he’s one of the most celebrated pianists of our time. He returns to Saskatoon to play Grieg’s epic Piano Concerto in A minor this February. Joining him is internationally renowned conductor Rune Bergmann. Bergmann leads your SSO in a performance of Sibelius’ stunning 1st symphony. This will be one for the SSO and Saskatoon history books!

Click for Info and Tickets

#3 – FROZEN!

Third time is a charm right?!?

One of the most beloved movies and soundtracks of all time – a memorable performance as the SSO performs the orchestral score live while you watch the movie on the big screen above the orchestra!

Experience Disney’s award-winning “Frozen” in a new way with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO). As “Frozen” plays on a large movie screen, Martin MacDonald will lead the SSO performing the film’s score live to film. Tickets are available through saskatoonsymphony.org or the TCU Place box office.

Click for Info and Tickets

 

#2 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. This way they can use it to get tickets to Dancing Queen, Baroque Soul, Farm Fresh, anything their musical heart desires!

Click here to buy an SSO gift certificate!

 

and the #1 gift…

A ConcertStream.tv Gift Card

The SSO’s ConcertStream.tv is a hit – our very own Netflix that allows you to enjoy the SSO live streams from home or on the go, and gives you a chance to enjoy concerts on demand whenever you want!

On top of all of the SSO’s streaming, ConcertStream.tv hosts streaming for lots of other incredible arts organizations like the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, Flamenco Borealis, the Fireside Singers, and more!

You can give someone a gift card for whatever amount you choose or you can buy them access to a particular performance or an SSO Streaming Subscription.

You can even set it up to deliver to their email on Christmas morning!

Visit ConcertStream.tv for a gift card!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boléro

From the snare drum’s opening notes, even before the infamous melody begins, we instantly recognize Boléro. This oddly compelling music has entered popular culture through various media: the 1979 film 10, numerous television commercials, and the gold medal-winning performance by ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

Maurice Ravel would not have been surprised by Boléro’s enduring popularity; while he worked on it, the composer commented, “The piece I am working on will be so popular, even fruit peddlers will whistle it in the street.” Originally a ballet commission from Ida Rubenstein, formerly of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Boléro was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska, sister of Vaslav Nijinsky, and featured a Gypsy woman dancing on a table in a Spanish tavern, who whips her audience into uncontrolled sexual frenzy.

Rubenstein’s ballet was successful, but Boléro’s lasting fame came in the concert hall, most notably from a controversial performance conducted by Arturo Toscanini in 1930. Not all listeners were seduced, however. One critic described Boléro as “… the most insolent monstrosity ever perpetrated in the history of music … it is simply the incredible repetition of a single rhythm … and above it is the blatant recurrence of an overwhelmingly vulgar cabaret tune.”

In response, Ravel wrote a letter in 1931 to the London Daily Telegraph: “It [Boléro] is an experiment in a very special and limited direction, and it should not be suspected of aiming at achieving anything different from, or anything more than, it actually does achieve. Before the first performance, I issued a warning to the effect that what I had written was a piece … consisting wholly of orchestral texture without music – of one long, very gradual crescendo … I have done exactly what I have set out to do, and it is for listeners to take it or leave it.”

In 2012, the award-winning science podcast Radiolab presented an episode titled “Unraveling Bolero,” which suggested that Ravel might have been experiencing early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia (a degenerative brain disease involving the frontal lobe of the brain), as he wrote Boléro. One aspect of this disease manifests as an obsessive need for repetition, which is reflected in Boléro’s complete lack of thematic or rhythmic musical development. Six years after finishing Boléro, Ravel began to forget words and lose short-term memory. By 1935, two years before his death, he could no longer write or speak.

 

© 2020 Elizabeth Schwartz

History of Halloween

Every year on October 31st we put on fun costumes and get our fill of Halloween candy. But how did it all begin?

The ancient Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st. They marked the end of harvest, and their new year’s eve with a festival called Samhain.

Believing that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred, on October 31st the Celtic people would commemorate this event with huge sacred bonfires. They would burn sacrifices to ehrie Celtic deities, wore costumes, and tried to predict each other’s futures.

Fastforward to 40 AD and the majority Celts have been conquered by the Roman Empire. Over time there was a blending of Celtic and Roman festivals including Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead, and the day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Perhaps this is why we bob for apples?

By the 9th century christianity had spread amonst Celtic lands and blended with older Celtic rights. Christians celebrated All Souls’ Day, potentially in an attempt to replace Samhain and other non christian celebrations with a church approved holiday. The All Saints day was also known as All-Hallows or All-hallowmans, and the night before as All-Hallows Eve, which ultimately became Halloween.

As settlers moved to North America, they brought their Halloween traditions from all over europe. People started handing out candy in exchange for not being tricked, and the day became more secular and community focused.

These days Halloween is filled with fun costumes, tiny candies, and themed concerts!

We hope you have a wonderful, and fun filled Halloween!

Linsey Levendall

Our program cover art was created by Linsey Levendall

Linsey is a self-developed multidisciplinary creative originally from the Cape Flats of Cape Town, South Africa but now living with his wife and two dogs in a small town in rural Saskatchewan, Canada.

He works closely withThe Black Heart Gang and Shy The Sun as a conceptual designer on groundbreaking animation for both the local and international market. He also makes up one half of the duo Bison.

In his spare time, Linsey compulsively illustrates in various mediums for both business (on freelance projects) and pleasure. He says his intricately executed and seemingly disturbing work is driven by a need to be in sync with his subconscious thoughts and dreams. Linsey defines his work as being engaging decadence, mildly trippy and takes great joy in entertaining the viewer with obscure controlled chaotic worlds and strangely interesting and complex characters.

While his skill lies in his versatility and ability to adapt to various styles, he finds himself mostly drawn to Cubism, Surrealism and Pop Surrealism. In his work he aims to stay open to evolving and preserving unconventional thinking.

See more of Linsey’s work by following him on instagram. @linsey_levendall

Caroline Shaw, composer

Caroline Shaw is a musician who moves among roles, genres, and mediums, trying to imagine a world of sound that has never been heard before but has always existed. She works often in collaboration with others, as producer, composer, violinist, and vocalist.

Caroline is the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, several Grammy awards, an honorary doctorate from Yale, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

This year’s projects include the score to “Fleishman is in Trouble” (FX/Hulu), vocal work with Rosalía (MOTOMAMI), the score to Josephine Decker’s “The Sky Is Everywhere” (A24/Apple), music for the National Theatre’s production of “The Crucible” (dir. Lyndsey Turner), Justin Peck’s “Partita” with NY City Ballet, a new stage work “LIFE” (Gandini Juggling/Merce Cunningham Trust), the premiere of “Microfictions Vol. 3” for NY Philharmonic and Roomful of Teeth, a live orchestral score for Wu Tsang’s silent film “Moby Dick” co-composed with Andrew Yee, two albums on Nonesuch (“Evergreen” and “The Blue Hour”), the score for Helen Simoneau’s dance work “Delicate Power”, tours of Graveyards & Gardens (co-created immersive theatrical work with Vanessa Goodman), and tours with So Percussion featuring songs from “Let The Soil Play Its Simple Part” (Nonesuch), amid occasional chamber music appearances as violist (Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, La Jolla Music Society).

Caroline has written over 100 works in the last decade, for Anne Sofie von Otter, Davóne Tines, Yo Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, LA Phil, Philharmonia Baroque, Seattle Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Aizuri Quartet, The Crossing, Dover Quartet, Calidore Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Miro Quartet, I Giardini, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Ariadne Greif, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Britt Festival, and the Vail Dance Festival. She has produced for Rosalía, Nas, and Kanye West.

Her work as vocalist or composer has appeared in several films, tv series, and podcasts including The Humans, Bombshell, Yellowjackets, Maid, Dark, Beyonce’s Homecoming, Tár, Dolly Parton’s America, and More Perfect. Her favorite color is yellow, and her favorite smell is rosemary.

Evelin Ramón, composer

Ramón was born in Cuba and finished her doctoral studies in composition at l’Université de Montréal. She studied under the direction of composer Pierre Michaud.

She has had the honor of seeing her music played in Canada by famous ensembles like the Ensemble Transmission, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and UltraViolet Ensemble. Plus orchestras including the University of Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, as well as in Spain, Germany, Venezuela, France, Denmark, Colombie, Chile, Mexique, and Cuba.

She has presented her music as a performer and composer in Paris, Denmark, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico.

Ramón’s current work focuses on musical production, taking Cuban and Afro-Cuban music as the main inspiration and mixing it with electronic music.

Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout

This piece was written for string quartet in 2001 and arranged for string orchestra in 2003.

Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout draws inspiration from the idea of mestizaje as envisioned by Peruvian writer José María Arguedas, where cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other. As such, this piece mixes elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions.

“Toyos” depicts one of the most recognizable instruments of the Andes, the panpipe. One of the largest kinds is the breathy toyo which requires great stamina and lung power, and is often played in parallel fourths or fifths.

“Tarqueda” is a forceful and fast number featuring the tarka, a heavy wooden duct flute that is blown harshly in order to split the tone. Tarka ensembles typically also play in fourths and fifths.

“Himno de Zampoñas” features a particular type of panpipe ensemble that divides up melodies through a technique known as hocketing. The characteristic sound of the zampoña panpipe is that of a fundamental tone blown fatly so that overtones ring out on top, hence the unusual scoring of double stops in this movement.

“Chasqui” depicts a legenday figure from the Inca period, the chasqui runner, who sprinted great distances to deliver messages between towns separated from one another by the Andean peaks. The chasqui needed to travel light. Hence, I take artistic license to imagine his choice of instruments to be the charango, a high-pitched cousin of the guitar, and the lightweight bamboo quena flute, both of which are featured in this movement.

“Canto de Velorio” portrays another well-known Andean personality, a professional crying woman known as the llorona. Hired to render funeral rituals even sadder, the llorona is accompanied here by a second llorona and an additional chorus of mourning women (coro de mujeres). The chant Dies Irae is quoted as a reflection of the comfortable mix of Quechua Indian religious rites with those from Catholicism.

“Coqueteos” is a flirtatious love song sung by gallant men known as romanceros. As such, it is direct in its harmonic expression, bold, and festive. The romanceros sing in harmony with one another against a backdrop of guitars which I think of as a vendaval de guitarras (“storm of guitars”).

—Gabriela Lena Frank

Gabriela Lena Frank, composer

Currently serving as Composer-in-Residence with the storied Philadelphia Orchestra and included in the Washington Post’s list of the most significant women composers in history (August, 2017), identity has always been at the center of composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank’s music. Born in Berkeley, California (September, 1972), to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Gabriela has traveled extensively throughout South America in creative exploration. Her music often reflects not only her own personal experience as a multi-racial Latina, but also refract her studies of Latin American cultures, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own.

Moreover, she writes, “There’s usually a story line behind my music; a scenario or character.” While the enjoyment of her works can be obtained solely from her music, the composer’s program notes enhance the listener’s experience, for they describe how a piano part mimics a marimba or pan-pipes, or how a movement is based on a particular type of folk song, where the singer is mockingly crying. Even a brief glance at her titles evokes specific imagery: Leyendas (Legends): An Andean WalkaboutLa Llorona (The Crying Woman): Tone Poem for Viola and Orchestra; and Concertino Cusqueño (Concertino in the Cusco style). Gabriela’s compositions also reflect her virtuosity as a pianist — when not composing, she is a sought-after performer, specializing in contemporary repertoire.

In 2020, Gabriela was a recipient of the prestigious 25th-anniversary Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanity category with an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000, a meaningful portion of which was donated by Gabriela to the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. The award recognized Gabriela for breaking gender, disability, and cultural barriers in the classical music industry, and for her work as an activist on behalf of emerging composers of all demographics and aesthetics.

Winner of a Latin Grammy and nominated for Grammys as both composer and pianist, Gabriela also holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and a USA Artist Fellowship given each year to fifty of the country’s finest artists. Her work has been described as “crafted with unself-conscious mastery” (Washington Post), “brilliantly effective” (New York Times), “a knockout” (Chicago Tribune) and “glorious” (Los Angeles Times). Gabriela is regularly commissioned by luminaries such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw, the King’s Singers, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano with guitarist Manuel Barrueco, Brooklyn Rider, and conductors Marin Alsop and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She has also received orchestral commissions and performances from leading American orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. Before her current residency with the Philadelphia Orchestra for which she will compose the 45-minute Chronicles of the Picaflor (Hummingbird), in 2017 she completed her four-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony under maestro Leonard Slatkin, composing Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra, as well as a second residency with the Houston Symphony under Andrés Orozco-Estrada for whom she composed the Conquest Requiem, a large-scale choral/orchestral work in Spanish, Latin, and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Gabriela’s most recent premieres have been Pachamama Meets an Ode for chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and unveiled at Carnegie hall under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Seguín; Haillí-Serenata for Chicago Symphony under the baton of Andrés Orozco-Estrada; Las Cinco Lunas de Lorca (“The five moons of Lorca”) commissioned by Los Angeles Opera; Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiered by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States under the baton of conductor Marin Alsop; and Suite Mestiza, a large-scale work for solo violin premiered by Movses Pogossian.

In the season of 2022-23, co-commissioners San Diego Opera and San Francisco Opera will premiere Gabriela’s first opera, El último sueño de Frida y Diego (“The last dream of Frida and Diego”), utilizing words by her frequent collaborator Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz. Other upcoming projects include recording the Conquest Requiem with the Nashville Symphony under the baton of Giancarlo Guerrero for the Naxos Records label; a new work with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for voice and orchestra with texts by the award-winning scientist/birder/poet J. Drew Lanham; a string quartet for the Fry Street Quartet; and others.

Gabriela is the subject of several scholarly books including the W.W. Norton Anthology: The Musics of Latin America; Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers (Scarecrow Press); and In her Own Words (University of Illinois Press). She is also the subject of several PBS documentaries including “Compadre Huashayo” regarding her work in Ecuador composing for the Orquestra de Instrumentos Andinos comprised of native highland instruments; and Música Mestiza, regarding a workshop she led at the University of Michigan composing for a virtuoso septet of a classical string quartet plus a trio of Andean panpipe players. Músic Mestiza, created by filmmaker Aric Hartvig, received an Emmy Nomination for best Documentary Feature in 2015.

Civic outreach is an essential part of Gabriela’s work. She has volunteered extensively in hospitals and prisons, with her current focus on developing the music school program at Anderson Valley High School, a rural public school of modest means with a large Latino population in Boonville, CA.

Gabriela is also a climate activist, co-authoring a regular column on climate action within the music industry for Chamber Music America Magazine and creating a Climate Initiative for GLFCAM. She has also written about her hearing loss as a guest columnist with the New York Times, “I think Beethoven encoded his deafness in his music.”

In 2017, Gabriela founded the award-winning Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music whose history and mission can be found here.

Gabriela attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned a B.A. (1994) and M.A. (1996). She studied composition with Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. At the University of Michigan, where she received a D.M.A. in composition in 2001, Gabriela studied with William Albright, William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton. She currently resides in Boonville, a small rural town in the Anderson Valley, with her husband Jeremy on their mountain farm, has a second home in her native Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has traveled extensively in Andean South America.

Gabriela is a member of Wise Music/G. Schirmer’s prestigious roster of artists, exclusively managed and published.

— September 2022

The renaissance of Marianna Martines

They say that brilliant minds touch the lives of all that surround them. This was especially true for Vienna-born composer Marianna Martines (sometimes referred to as Marianne von Martinez). Marianna was born in 1744 into a family of career soldiers. Her father Nicolo, who had grown up in Naples, served in Vienna as major-domo to the papal nuncio (the Pope’s embassy to the Austrian Empire). 

Marianna’s brothers both led distinguished military careers and, for their service to the Empire, their entire family was awarded a patent of nobility in 1774 (back then, you couldn’t have “von” in your  family name without this handy slip of paper). But Marianna (with her musical gifts both as a performer and composer) was the rising star of the family, and with the help of a family friend she would one day become a sensation throughout all of Europe.

During Marianna’s childhood, The Martines family lived in a large building on the Michaelerplatz in Vienna. Described by historians as “a stately building still standing in the Kohlmarkt”, the complex was arranged by the social class of its occupants: upper class members of society held soirees in palatial rooms on the bottom floors, while the lower classes lived in the cramped interiors of the building’s uppermost reaches. As an upper-middle class family, the Martines clan were privileged enough to live on the third floor. 

The neighbors of Marianna Martines included the dowager princess of the wealthy Esterházy family (1st Floor), the well-known Italian singing teacher and composer Nicola Porpora (who lived a few floors above Marianna), and Joseph Haydn (then a struggling composer and freelance musician who lived in the building’s attic). The figure who helped unite all these neighbors into a network of musical support for Marianna’s development was her father’s childhood friend Pietro Trapassi. Writing under the famous pen name “Metastasio”, Pietro lived with the Martines family for the rest of his life after being appointed Poet Laureate to the Austrian Empire in 1730. 

As the tutor responsible for Marianna’s practical and musical education in childhood, Pietro ensured that the education Marianna received was of a quality far superior to that of the “standard” provided to women of her social class at that time. Through her rigorous study of languages with Pietro, for example, Marianna became an incredibly well-versed quadrilingual of French, English, Italian, and German. Pietro arranged for Marianna to take keyboard lessons from Haydn (that brilliant young man from the attic) and encouraged her to take singing lessons at the age of ten. 

So it was that Marianna continued her musical training under Nicola Porpora, with Haydn serving as both her accompanist and assistant to her new teacher. Demonstrating potential as a gifted composer, Marianna was encouraged by her tutor Pietro to take lessons in composition from Johann Adolph Hasse and the Imperial court composer Giuseppe Bonno. She brought Haydn with her to meet both Hasse and Bonno, and the attic musician’s career flourished as a result.

Martines was a virtuosic player, even as a child, and regularly performed before the Imperial court. Her biographer Helene Wessely depicts the young Martines as having “attracted attention with her beautiful voice and [superb] keyboard playing”. Wessely also asserts that her compositions, particularly for voice, possess a “predilection for coloratura passages, leaps over wide intervals and trills indicat[ing] that she herself must have been an excellent singer.” As a rock star on the harpsichord, she developed such a reputation into adulthood that she was frequently requested to perform before the Empress Maria Theresa.

Despite being one of the most eligible bachelorettes in the Classical Viennese music scene, Marianna Martines never married. She never sought an appointed position at court either. There were barriers to women (as well as individuals of her social class) when it came to pursuing compositional employment that her friend Haydn simply did not have to contend with. Together with her sister (who also remained a lifelong bachelorette) she cared for her mentor Pietro until his death in 1782. That very year, Marianna’s Italian oratorio “Isacco figura del redentore” was premiered in a renowned concert series put on by the Tonkünstler-Societät. The librettist for this oratorio is credited to Pietro’s pen name of Metastasio.

The poet left his estate to the Martines family, and to his student Marianna he bequeathed 20,000 florins, his harpsichord, and his entire music library. Marianna used this money to fill the Martines home with her former tutor’s favorite music, hosting musical soirees with her sister that attracted distinguished guests (such as the Irish tenor Michael Kelly and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself!). The latter was a frequent guest to these musical get-togethers and composed four-hand piano sonatas to perform with Marianne. Never too proud to forget his roots, Haydn would often pop in for a bit of harpsichord-tickling and merriment-making.

As a composer, Martines penned four masses, six motets, and three litanies for choir. She composed several works for solo voice and wrote several secular cantatas (as well as two oratorios) to Italian texts. In the definitive fashion of the early Classical period, particularly in Vienna, she composed in the Italian style. Her harpsichord playing was compared stylistically to that of C.P.E. Bach, and her compositions were so well-regarded that some scholars suggest Mozart modeled his 1768 Mass after the “Christe” of her Mass No. 1 in D major. 

As she rightly deserved, Martines’ name and music were lauded throughout Europe, but after her death in 1812 her musical legacy faced an incredible amount of erasure. It is only in recent years that her music has, rightly, been unearthed to the delight of the musical world. It is primarily thanks to the efforts made by publishers such as “Furore-Verlag” (a German publisher that specializes in works by female composers) that we can enjoy so many of her compositions today. 

Remembering Randi Nelson

Randi Nelson was a member of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and our principal flute for 47 years. More than just a member of the orchestra, she was a pillar of the music community in Saskatoon and across the country. When she retired we had hoped to see her smiling face in our audience for years to come. Unfortunately, life had other plans and we lost Randi to cancer in 2020.

When Randi retired in 2016 CEO Mark Turner wrote:

“If we had to pick one word to describe Randi Nelson it would be “classy”. She is kind, supportive, meticulous and extremely hard-working. Her lifelong dedication to this orchestra is an inspiration. She will always strive for the best in any situation. With a gift for organization, Randi is always taking the initiative to help coordinate her fellow musicians.”

Randi joined the SSO in the fall of 1969 and in the later part of her career she was a fountain of knowledge about the SSO. Her many memories and stories were great reminders of how far the SSO has come. She also shared her wisdom and was considered a great mentor in the SSO and the greater musical community.

Being a part of the orchestra wasn’t the only connection Randi had to the SSO. Her father, Dwayne Nelson, was the Music Director from 1971–1976. It’s safe to say her passion for music began at home. In an interview when asked about the role of music in her early life she said

“It was a major part of my family’s life. I remember all of my parents’ students sitting around in our living room listening to recordings late into the night. I would lay awake and listen.”

In the same interview, Randi lists her biggest influences in classical music as her parents and noted she was still working on a solution for nerves before a performance.

In her role as a principal, she was part of the SSO’s core. This group of musicians performs in all of the main series concerts and all the smaller gigs including school shows, touring shows, Time for Toddlers, and visits to assisted living facilities.

We love the story principal violist James Legge shares about Randi’s school show introduction about Beethoven’s 5th and those “first 5 notes”.

“Randi has taught me that it’s not all about the final concert. Rehearsals can be just as inspiring and fun. Since the beginning of my time here, she has set the example of what it means to be a good colleague, dedicated teacher, wonderful performer and caring friend.”

– Stephanie Unverricht, principal bassoon (Taken from the program notes at Randi’s retirement)

Her dedication, work ethic, and joy in making music were infectious. As noted by Margaret Wilson, principal clarinet in this lovely snippet.

“Always meticulously prepared, Randi has been such a good leader in our orchestra. Known for her ‘smoke and whisky” sound, her precise musical leadership will be sorely missed.”

– Mark Turner (Taken from the program notes at Randi’s retirement)

Erin Brophey, principal oboe, speaks of how Randi was really the core’s mom. Randi’s leadership and mentorship showed themselves in countless ways –  most of all in her actions as remembered by so many.

Due to Covid-19, there was no opportunity to have a celebration of Randi’s life. Randi’s husband Terry (cellist & longtime SSO collaborator), and her children, opened up her beloved garden for friends and family to give people a chance to grieve together safely. In that garden, SSO CEO Mark Turner announced that the SSO was going to commission a piece in honour of Randi’s memory. Terry shared a beautiful memory of seeing his wife “up to her waist in lupins” which was passed on to composer Christos Hatzis and led to the creation of the work we premiere on September 24th during our season opening concert Orchestration.

Terry graciously spoke with CBC’s Shauna Powers about Randi and the new piece. You can listen to the chat here.

When we premiere “Up to her Waist in Lupins” our current principal flute, Allison Miller, is the featured soloist. We had a chance to ask her about how she felt giving the world premiere of this work by Christos Hatzis in honour of Randi.

Before her retirement, we asked Randi what her hope was for the future of classical music in Saskatoon. She answered by saying she hoped

“that it continues to be relevant and understood as an important measure of a societal worth.”

We can’t think of a more worthy cause than a new piece of music commemorating the incredible Randi Nelson.

As Erin Brophey said in a recent CBC interview,

” it is absolutely fitting that there’s a new, incredibly gorgeous, piece that is going to be added to the flute canon. That there will be people that will continue to perform this piece and have to research who Randi was. It keeps her legacy going.”

You can be a part of continuing Randi’s legacy by donating towards the cost of the commission.