Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony

Even by nineteenth-century standards, the historic concert on December 22, 1808, was something of an endurance test. That night, Beethoven conducted the premieres of both his Fifth and Pastoral symphonies, played his Fourth Piano Concerto (conducting from the keyboard); and rounded out the program with the Gloria and the Sanctus from the Mass in C; the concert aria Ah! perfido; improvisations at the keyboard, and the Choral Fantasy, written in great haste at the last moment as a grand finale.

If concertgoers that evening read their printed program — the luxury of program notes still many decades in the future—  they would have found the following brief guide to the Sixth Symphony, in Beethoven’s own words:

Pastoral Symphony, more an expression of feeling than painting. 1st piece: pleasant feelings which awaken in men on arriving in the countryside. 2nd piece: scene by the brook. 3rd piece: merry gathering of country people, interrupted by 4th piece: thunder and storm, into which breaks 5th piece: salutary feelings combined with thanks to the Deity.

Although Beethoven wasn’t by nature a man of words (spelling and punctuation led a perilous existence in his hands), he normally said what he meant. We must then take him at his word, believing that he had good reason (for the only time in his career) to preface his music with a few well-chosen words and that curious disclaimer “more an expression of feeling than painting.” Perhaps Beethoven was anticipating the controversy to follow, for in 1808, symphonies weren’t supposed to depict postcard scenes or bad weather.

Beethoven’s idea itself was neither novel nor his own. In 1784 (Beethoven was only fourteen), an obscure composer named Justin Heinrich Knecht advertised his newest symphonic creation: Le portrait musical de la nature (A musical portrait of nature) in five movements, including a depiction of the peaceful countryside, the approach of a storm, and a general thanksgiving to the creator once the clouds had passed. It would take hearing no more than a measure or two of music to explain why Knecht has remained obscure while Beethoven turned the music world upside down. The descriptive writing and pastoral subject matter of Beethoven’s symphony are a throwback to the baroque era—think of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or the Pastoral Symphony in the Messiah—or at least to Haydn’s two oratorios, The Creation and The Seasons, the latter written only half a dozen years earlier.

History books are right, of course, to point out the work’s novelties: the “extra” movement, the descriptive titles, the programmatic element, and pictorial details like the bird calls in the slow movement and the village band in the scherzo. But Beethoven was also right in trusting that “he who has ever had a notion of country life can imagine without too many descriptive words what the composer has intended.”

Our familiar picture of Beethoven, cross and deaf, slumped in total absorption over his sketches, doesn’t easily allow for Beethoven the nature-lover. But he liked nothing more than a walk in the woods, where he could wander undisturbed, stopping from time to time to scribble a new idea on the folded sheets of music paper he always carried in his pocket. “No one,” he wrote to Therese Malfati two years after the premiere of the Pastoral Symphony, “can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo which man desires to hear.”

They’re all here in his Sixth Symphony. The most surprising thing about the opening Allegro is how quiet it is: seldom in five hundred measures of music (well over ten minutes) does Beethoven raise his voice. Surely no composer—including the so-called minimalists—has so clearly understood the impact of repeating a simple idea unaltered, or slowing the rate of harmonic change to a standstill. When, near the beginning of the development section, Beethoven changes the harmony only once in the course of fifty measures, the effect of that shift from B-flat to D is breathtaking. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this spacious, relaxed, blissfully untroubled movement is that it comes from the same pen that gave us— at the same time, no less—that firecracker of a symphony, his Fifth, in C minor.

Not even Donald Tovey, with his precise use of language, could find a better word to describe Beethoven’s slow movement than “lazy.” We can be sure that the laziness is intentional, and it’s amazing how much this least restful of composers seems to enjoy the drowsy pace, the endless dawdling over details, the self-indulgent repetitions of favorite sections, and the unchecked meandering through the byways of sonata form. Beethoven begins with a gentle babbling brook (one of those undulating accompaniment figures that Schubert would later do to perfection) and ends with notorious bird calls. The only problem with the birds is that Beethoven calls so much attention to them, bringing the music—and the brook—to a halt, and then specifying first the nightingale (flute), then the quail (oboe), and finally the cuckoo (clarinet). But as many a writer has pointed out, the birds are no more out of place here than a cadenza in a concerto—the nightingale even provides the final obligatory trill.

The third movement is dance music, with a plain, homely, rustic peasant dance for a midsection trio. But the fun is cut short by dark clouds and the prospect of rain. There’s probably no more impressive storm in all music—the whole orchestra surges and shakes, trombones appear (for the first time) to emphasize the downpour, and the timpani shows up just to add the thunder. This is, of course, no extra “movement” at all, but merely a lengthy, rapid introduction to the finale. The clouds finally roll away, the oboe promises better things to come in a wonderfully heartfelt phrase, and the flute, with its staccato scale, raises the curtain on Elysium. And so, to the yodeling of the clarinet and horn, we willingly believe F major to be the most beautiful key on earth. The moment is parallel to the great triumphant sunburst that marks the arrival of the finale of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and, although the means could hardly be less similar, the effect is just as wondrous.


Rebecca Dale

Saturday, March 7th will feature a North American premiere of Rebecca Dale’s reflective Materna Requiem. If you’re thinking that you don’t know the music of Rebecca Dale, we’re telling you this is a must hear!

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Rebecca Dale is a British composer of screen and concert musicBorn in 1985, Rebecca started composing from a very young age, completing her first full musical at age 10 and piano concerto at 15. After school music scholarships, she studied at Oxford University (New College) and the National Film and Television School, and holds an MA with distinction in Composing for Film & Television. Her 2015 debut self-release for choir and orchestra, I’ll Sing, rose up the classical charts and was Classic FMChoral Classic of the Week. Her next release, Soay, spent five weeks at Classical No.1 and was named Classic FM 2016 album of the year. In 2017, Dale won a coveted place on the Sundance Composer Lab.

Check out this recording of Soay released in January 2019!

Most recently her track ‘Winter’, commissioned by bestselling vocal group Voces8 for their album of the same name, was described by Gramophone magazine as a “masterpiece”. A follow up album is due for release this year. Dale also recently composed original music for the BBC Christmas drama series, Little Women.

Dale has been involved in projects for 20th Century FoxDisneyWorking TitleThe Weinstein Co. and the BBC, and her score for Crossing The Line was nominated for best original music in feature film at the 2017 international Music & Sound Awards. She has recorded and conducted orchestral works at Abbey Road, Air Studios, George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and Fox Studios, Hollywood. Dale’s Full length albumRequiemwas released by Decca Classics in August 2018.

Hailed by Classic FM as “one of today’s most exciting young composers” and “a household name in years to come”, Rebecca Dale made history when in 2018 she became the first female composer to sign to Universal Music’s Decca Classics label, and the first woman to sign to Decca Publishing. In September her debut album recorded with the Royal Liverpool PhilharmonicRequiem For My Mother, smashed into the UK album charts at No.1 in the specialist Classical charts.

Here is a sneak peak of Materna Requiem – the Pie Jesu. The intention of this movement is to capture the feeling of a father singing to their newborn.

Originally mentored by Golden Globe-nominated Alex Heffes (“Last King of Scottland”) and Emmy-nominated Maurizio Malagnini (“Call the Midwife”), Rebecca has worked on films like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, director Stephen Frears’ The Program, action film The Take starring Idris Elba, BBC period drama series The Paradise and The Secret Agent, famous US Miniseries remake Roots, Touching the Void Live and BBC’s Frozen Planet Live and Disney’s Queen of Katwe directed by Mira Nair.  She was a judge for Northern Ireland’s inaugural Royal Television Society Programme Awards, is a Berlinale Talents alumna and BAFTA Crew participant, and has been a regular interview guest on BBC Radio 3.

As a concert composer Rebecca has written for numerous classical artists and ensembles including Mari & Hakon Samuelson, the London Mozart Players, the Scottish Festival Orchestra, the Latvian Opera Orchestra, musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra, percussionst Joby Burgess and cellists Richard Harwood, Benjamin Hughes and Oliver Coates. She is a fellow of the prestigious MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (notable composer alumni include Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland), and has been an associate composer with the London Symphony Orchestra on its Soundhub programme. She also directs and writes extensively for choral groups, was commissioned by Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir for their debut album, and was 2017-18 Composer in Residence for the London Oriana Choir as part of its five15 project. I’ll Sing was performed at Cadogan Hall with ensemble and orchestra from the London opera houses, as part of the charity concert for Grenfell Tower.

She plays the violin and piano, and likes odd socks.

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Materna Requiem – Subscriber Perks

We’ve got some great perks for our Subscribers!

We are so excited about our concert on March 7th, Materna Requiem. This will be a North American premiere of Rebecca Dale‘s masterpiece, and we want all of our subscribers to be able to experience it in an even more intimate way – by attending a rehearsal at no extra charge! Here you will be able to witness the program before the evening’s performance, offering an opportunity to immerse yourself deeper in the work. Maestro Eric Paetkau will work the orchestra, guest soloists Spencer McKnight and Chelsea Mahan, and the Greystone Singers and Aurora Voce choirs to ensure everyone has a unified vision.

The dress rehearsal on Saturday, March 7th (starting strictly at 1:00pm), will be open to all subscribers to watch upon registering. To take advantage of this unique experience, you must register by February 28th with Matthew via email at, or by calling the office Monday-Friday 10:00am-3:00pm at (306) 665-6414 – please inquire for more information.

And how about something special for our ambitious concertgoers – we are implementing our “Inside the Sound” subscriber perk, where a small handful of people can sit scattered amongst the orchestra during a preliminary evening rehearsal (Thursday, March 5th or Friday, March 6th). Here you will be able to see an in-depth look at the rehearsal process, from the musicians perspective! The specific date will be decided once we can poll those who have requested to be a part of this – please don’t shy away! Email Matthew at or call the SSO office (306) 665-6414 to find out more information and secure one of the few spots!

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Materna Requiem

Saint-Saëns’ Egyptian Piano Concerto

Want to sabotage your self esteem?

Try comparing yourself to Camille Saint-Saëns. The renowned composer and teacher was also a virtuoso pianist and organist, as well as a travel writer, poet, and playwright. He had a photographic memory and spoke several languages fluently. He demonstrated perfect pitch at two years old and started composing at four. At ten he made his formal debut in Paris, performing works by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. He wrote his first two symphonies during adolescence and continued to dazzle as an adult. At 72, he became the first major composer to score a film. By the time he died, at 86, he had completed more than 200 musical works, in virtually every genre, and was still getting gigs as a concert pianist. “I produce music the way an apple tree produces apples,” he famously declared. It ain’t bragging if it’s true, but it’s still highly irritating. Regular people struggle. Saint-Saëns, freakishly, did not.

When Saint-Saëns finished his fifth and final piano concerto, early in 1896, he was 60 years old. He needed a dazzling new showpiece for a celebration later that year marking the 50th anniversary of his debut as a performer (at 10—the jerk!). Although it had been 20 years since his last piano concerto—Saint-Saëns composed relatively little for the instrument, surprisingly—his apple-tree analogy remained apt. The work’s nickname, “Egyptian,” didn’t originate with Saint-Saëns, but it seems inevitable. He composed most of it while on vacation in Luxor, and, at least for him, it’s unusually programmatic. Explaining that the concerto represented a “sea voyage,” he provided many picturesque details to support his claim. But rather than strictly portraying a single country, the “Egyptian” compiles a world-traveler’s far-flung impressions. 

The opening Allegro animato subjects a simple melody to increasingly intricate formal procedures, with vaguely modal harmonies hinting at exotic destinations. Rippling piano textures and pulsing orchestration remind us that we travel by sea.

To quote the composer, the second movement “takes us… on a journey to the East and even, in the passage in F-sharp, to the Far East.” Here Saint-Saëns refers to the pentatonic melody picked out by the piano, a startling bit of proto-Minimalism that brings to mind a Javanese “Chopsticks.” With its hypnotic, chiming overtones and gamelan allure, it almost eclipses the main theme, which Saint-Saëns described as “a Nubian love song.” He claimed to have scribbled the tune on one of his sleeves after hearing it sung by boatmen on the Nile. As the Andante closes, Spanish-inflected dance rhythms subside in a nocturne of chirping crickets, croaking frogs.

The remarkably brief Allegro molto brims over with a madcap energy. Jazzy syncopation vies with sweeping bravura gestures. Coloristic effects describe everything from motorized propellers to restless trade winds. Saint-Saëns explained that the finale expresses “the joy of a sea crossing,” but this is clearly a hectic, queasy kind of joy. In fact, the notoriously tricky solo part was later used as an examination piece for aspiring pianists at the Paris Conservatory.

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Credit – René Spencer Saller

Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite

World War I caused a collective shuddering of the soul throughout the world. The attendant horrors — trench warfare, poison gas, mechanized weapons of destruction — set in motion a wave of revulsion and a profound questioning of traditional religious and secular ethical values. A yearning for spiritual comfort and for the perceived (if mythical) alleged sanity of the past sent many artists scurrying backward in time. The famed impresario Diaghilev approached Stravinsky to write a ballet based on the centuries-old commedia dell’arte. To win over the reluctant composer, Diaghilev showed his one-time collaborator several manuscripts he had brought to Paris from a recent trip to Italy. Stravinsky read through the various scores and found himself drawn to works attributed (several in error, one must add) to the short-lived composer Giovanni Pergolesi (1710–36), a talented transitional figure whose music breathes as much the air of the Baroque as the Rococo. ‘I looked,” said Stravinsky, “and I fell in love.” The fruit of this across-the-centuries encounter was Pulcinella, an essentially neo-Classic work — neo-Baroque is an even better term — that reined in Stravinsky’s self-styled primitivism as expressed most shockingly in his 1913 cri de guerre, The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky used Pergolesi’s melodies and bass lines more or less as handed down in the manuscripts shared by Diaghilev, overlaying the 18th-century material with irregular rhythmic phrases and piquant harmonies. He remained quite fond of this music, drawing material from the original ballet for the orchestral suite in 1922 (revised in 1947), adding further versions for violin and piano (1925, revised 1933) and for cello and piano (1932). The two duet versions were thorough rewrites; hence their new title, Suite italienne. Of special significance is that for the three decades subsequent to Stravinsky’s perusal of those manuscripts, much of his music — his entire neo-Classical output — derived from his serendipitous encounter with these infectious scores from the early 18th century.

Fittingly, the work opens with a rousing Sinfonia whose jesting manner sets the tone for the ballet suite. The ensuing movements, by turns humorous, lyrical and mock romantic, focus on the various ruses employed by the Neapolitan maidens seeking to attract the sly Pulcinella through their seductive dances.

The premiere of the original ballet was a brilliant collaboration of Stravinsky’s music, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe dancers, Massine’s choreography and Picasso’s sets. Oh, to have been there!

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SSO Top 5 Stocking Stuffers!

Whether you know someone that goes our shows regularly or has yet to experience what we have to offer, tickets to the SSO are a great way to brighten your Christmas gift giving! And though the season has already begun, there are still many concerts not even listed in this top 5 that are waiting to be discovered.

5. Mozart’s Flute

– A great finale to our mini-Mozart week

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Leading up to the concert, there will be several other Mozart-themed shows that will take you on a journey through the mix of Mozart’s compositions.

Naomi Ford will be our guest that evening for the Flute Concerto No. 1. At the age of 16, she was the Grand Awards winner at the National Music Festival of Canada in 2017, and more recently named an Award of Excellence winner with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2019. She is from New Brunswick, and is currently studying at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with Jeffrey Khaner. It will be a night to remember!

Mozart’s Flute Concerto

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4. Accent with the SSO

– vocal jazz with orchestra

Saturday, March 21, 2020

They may not be joining us for Christmas, but Danny Fong and Andrew Kesler will be coming home for this performance. They with their 4 colleagues form the vocal jazz group ACCENT.

Accent with the SSO

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3. Rebecca Dale’s Materna Requiem

– North American Premier of a UK work!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Rebecca Dale is the first female composer ever to signed with Universal Music’s Decca Classics label and Decca Publishing – and that was only last year! Her masterwork, Materna Requiem, is absolutely stunning. You do not want to miss the opportunity to see this!

This performance will include soloists Chelsea Mahan and Spencer McKnight, and SSO will be joined by the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers.

Materna Requiem

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2. Gift Certificates

– never expires!

We get it – people are busy, schedules change, life can be hectic. That’s why we have the gift certificate option!

Put any dollar amount on the card, and we guarantee that it will never expire until every cent is used up. That way, whoever you give it to can pick the concert that best fits them!

Call – (306) 665-6414

Visit the office – 602B 51st Street – Monday-Friday – 10:00am-3:00pm

1. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

– Watch the movie with LIVE MUSIC

Saturday, January 25, 2020

How could you pass up the chance to relive the music of this classic Disney film? Answer – you can’t! The evening will delight those well accustomed to the songs, and will capture those hearing them for the first time.

Act fast, because tickets are already selling fast!

The Little Mermaid

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A few more SSO gift ideas!

We couldn’t fit all our Christmas gift ideas for the classical music lover in your life into one post….so, we have two more brilliant ideas!

For the Piano Lovers

We all have that family member or friend who absolutely love the piano – and this year it works out perfectly to be able to get that person tickets to one of our concerts featuring two amazing pianists with two truly awesome pieces!

Jane Coop

– playing Beethoven’s Forth Piano Concerto

Saturday, May 2, 2020

This concert will mark Jane Coop’s sixth visit with the SSO. Long time fans and subscribers may remember her performing Beethoven’s first piano concerto in 2001, and now she will be gracing audiences with Beethoven’s third.

Paired with the Pastoral Symphony, this concert will satisfy all the Beethoven lovers, too!

Beethoven 250

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Thomas Yu

– playing Camille Saint-Saëns’ Egyptian Concerto

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Thomas Yu will also be returning, this being his fifth time with the SSO! Now it will be with the exotic sounds of Saint-Saëns fifth piano concerto.

Adding the flavour of Vincent Ho’s Earthbeat, Nicole Lizee’s Behind the Sound of Music, and Igor Stravinky’s Pulcinella Suite will make the palette of this concert quite an exciting and spicy treat.

Thomas Yu with the SSO

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Now…what about the art lover on your list?!

Artist Denyse Klette is a superstar….on top of being an artist whose work shows around the globe, and also on top of running Boheme Gallery here in Saskatoon, she somehow found total artistic genius to partner up with the SSO for her Composers Series.




Mozart was like his music.  Playful, humourous, glamourous, bursting with colour, and full of life!
The first in the series, Mozart has been a big splash with music lovers – he is the epitome of what we love most about making music.




“I am a Lonely Painter, I Live in a Box of Paints” – Denyse Klette



“I am a lonely painter.  I live in a box of paints”
Joni Mitchell endures.  Her words have a timelessness to them, and her music is all at once simple and devastatingly complex.  Klette’s take on Joni allows for the viewer to feel the movement and intimacy of Joni’s music, while referencing her song “A Case of You”.








There is only one Beethoven.
Revolutionary. Brilliant. Powerful. Bold. Iconic.
Klette’s Beethoven is fearless and refuses to fit in – she somehow finds as many colours to match his vast musical palette.  His intense gaze and wild hair truly unforgettable!


To get a limited print of these incredible paintings, you can stop in at the SSO offices or purchase online at

Messiah Artist – Adam Harris

Adam Harris

We welcome Adam back for his second performance of Handel’s Messiah with the SSO!

Canadian baritone Adam Harris has been described as an intuitively musical and distinctively dramatic young performer.

He has most recently been engaged with Calgary Opera, performing the role of Barrington in the world premiere of Ghost Opera, Guy Cotter in the Canadian premiere of Everest and as Gregorio in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Further credits include Ceprano in Rigoletto with Calgary Opera, Falke in Die Fledermaus at Koerner Hall, the Baritone in Kopernikus at the Banff Centre, Moralès in Carmen with the Mississauga Symphony, Marcello in La Bohème with Opera Kelowna, Argenio in Imeneo, Pluto in Orphée aux Enfers, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Curly in Oklahoma! and The Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe.

At home both in Operatic and Concert work, Adam has performed Handel’s Messiah with the Saskatoon Symphony, Fauré’s Requiem, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Five Mystical Songs with the Lyrica Chamber Choir, as well as Carmina Burana with the Indian River Festival and George Butterworth’s Six Songs from a Shropshire Lad alongside the University of Toronto Orchestra under the baton of conductor Uri Mayer.

Adam has appeared alongside Toronto based “Collectif” in their original production of “Fête” at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and in “The Happenstancers” concert series, performing “Neuf Historiettes” by Jean Francaix (1912-1997).

Mr. Harris holds his MA from the University of Toronto Opera Division and and a Bachelor’s degree from Western University.

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Messiah Artist -Lisa Hornung

Lisa Hornung

Having performed across Western Canada, the United States, and Europe, Lisa is always happy to be close to home with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. And so are we! Lisa has long been a favourite of SSO audiences for her emotionally deep performances of Messiah.

She has been acclaimed for performances in repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary composers; her voice has been called rich and powerful and her stage presence has inspired audiences and musicians alike.

After completing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance at the University of Saskatchewan (Professor Dorothy Howard), Lisa went on to further her studies at the Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy. This was followed by an intensive study time at Southern Illinois University (Mr. Richard Best). Later she completed a year of study, with the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, working with Mr. Nico Castel, Dr. Everett McCorvey, Dr. Cliff Jackson, Dr. Bill Cooper, Professor Micheal McMahon, Professor Tedrin Lindsey, and Mr. Richard Best.

Lisa believes that every child deserves the opportunity to sing, and runs a non-audition Community Youth Choir that provides this place. For several years she directed the Meota Men’s Choir, a non-audition men’s choir that was very active in the Battlefords and surrounding area. Lisa has gained a deeper appreciation and love of choral arts through her continued work as vocal coach for Cantilon and Belle Canto, professional touring choirs based in Edmonton, Alberta, under the direction Heather Johnson.

Lisa is the founder and director of Summer School for the Solo Voice, a week long study and performance opportunity for singers, choral conductors, accompanists and voice teachers of all ages and abilities. Growing from a local to a national, and now, international program, SSSV celebrated its 20th Anniversary in July, 2017.

In October of 2017, Lisa was presented with the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award. She has also been bestowed as one of the University of Saskatchewan’s Arts and Science Alumni of Influence.

Lisa lives in North Battleford with her husband John.

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Messiah Artist – Danika Lorèn

Danika Lorèn

If you missed it the first time in 2016, here is your chance to see Danika’s exhilarating performance in Handel’s Messiah.

As a performer

Danika is known for her versatility and dramatic sensitivity. Recent graduate of the Canadian Opera Company‘s ensemble program, her roles include Musetta (La Bohéme), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Dalinda (Ariodante), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Lady with a Hand Mirror (Postcard from Morocco), Coloratura (Kopernikus), Monica (The Medium), Woglinde (Götterdämmerung) and Zdenka (Arabella).

Danika has had the opportunity to work with some of the finest orchestras in Canada, including the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Elora Festival Orchestra, Pax Christi Chorale, and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Concert repertoire includes Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana and R. Strauss’ Op. 27, Vier Lieder. Danika’s finesse in competition has earned her first prize in the FCMF National Music Festival in 2011, first prize in the University of Toronto Concerto Competition in 2014/15, first prize in the 2016/17 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards, and a test recording with Deutsche Grammophon in the Stella Maris vocal competition in 2018.

As a composer

Danika’s work is inspired by her love of poetry and drama, and her unique perspective as a storyteller. Having started her musical education in piano at age 6, she earned a grade 9 level certificate through the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2005. She began composing seriously in 2014, and finds herself at home in art song and opera composition.

In 2016, she premiered her first song cycle, based on Lorna Crozier‘s infamous poetry cycle The Sex Lives of Vegetables with the Canadian Art Song Project, and she has since had her works performed in the Canadian Opera Company’s noon concert series, and at the National Sawdust with Bard University. She will make her compositional debut in Europe in November 2019, as part of a touring concert series featuring soprano Elisabeth Hetherington.

Her first opera is an interpretation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and Danika looks forward to collaborating with Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra on a workshop of the piece. Selections from the opera debuted in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in 2018.

From 2018-19, Danika has been finishing her first collection of songs: 20 pieces based on poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson) and Lorna Crozier. The songbook, entitled First Fig Songbook after Millay’s poem “First Fig”, will be performed as part of the University of Toronto’s Vocalis concert series by master and doctorate students in February 2020. This songbook was generously funded by the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and would not exist without their support!

As a visual artistIMG_8498_edited.jpg

Danika has been greatly inspired by the musical works in her life.  First exploring this connection in Collectìf‘s Cauchemars, Danika added hand-drawn projections and an original horror narrative to Poulenc’s Fiançailles pour rire  (check out a preview here). In the summer of 2019, for the Toronto Summer Music Festival, Danika created an original depiction of the Greek legend of Daphne and Apollo that was projection during her own performance of George Crumb’s Apparition (check out a preview here).

While finishing #FirstFigSongbook, Danika was an artist-in-residence at The Drake Devonshire. There, inspired by the vibrancy of the space, and Edna St. Vincent’s poetic cycle “A Few Figs from Thistles”, her artistic inspiration resulted in a series of original, vibrantly colourful figs.  Each fig is an homage to the ever-valuable fruits of our labours, the mysteries that we create in what we keep hidden, the explosiveness that comes from opening up and exposing those secrets. Juicy, no? 😉

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