Strata Festival of New Music 2023

The Strata Festival of New Music is pleased to announce its return for 2023, featuring a lineup of innovative and boundary-pushing artists from across Saskatchewan and Canada. The festival will take place from June 1 – 4 at multiple venues, including Remai Modern, Zion Lutheran Church and PAVED Arts in Saskatoon.

Now in its 11th year, the Strata Festival remains dedicated to showcasing Saskatchewan-based composers and musicians creating cutting-edge new music. This year’s festival contains four days of concerts and masterclasses featuring a range of composers and performers, exploring a wide range of genres and styles.

Some of the highlights of the festival include performances by Véronique Mathieu and Stephanie Chua, playing a perfect pairing of an Amati violin and grand piano; the chance to explore the connection between taste and sound at Cinq Morceaux; the extraordinary Strata Ensemble playing the music of Carmen Braden, a celebrated sub-arctic Canadian composer; and the premiere concert of the newly formed Saskatoon Experimental Music Ensemble.

The Strata Festival of New Music is made possible with support from SK Arts, the City of Saskatoon, Sask Lotteries, CFCR 90.5FM, Becker Design & Media, Remai Modern, PAVED Arts, Zion Lutheran Church, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. For more information about the Strata Festival of New Music and its lineup, please visit, or follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram at @stratafestival.


The Strata Ensemble featuring Guest Composer Carmen Braden


Thursday, June 1 2023, 7:30 PM
Remai Modern
Admission by donation


For ages 18 to 118


Friday, June 2 2023, 1:00 PM
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church


Featuring Stephanie Chua and Véronique Mathieu, plus Darren Miller with Amati Strings


Friday, June 2 2023, 6:30 PM
Remai Modern
Admission by donation


For ages 18 to 118


Saturday, June 3 2023, 1:00 PM
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church


Explore the connection between taste and sound in a whole new way, as you indulge in the exquisite flavours of each appetizer, expertly paired with the perfect piece of music.


Saturday, June 3 2023, 7:30 PM
Zion Lutheran Church


A community-oriented ensemble with a focus on collectively-created experimental music


Sunday, June 4 2023, 2:00 PM
Pay What You Can (Suggestion: $10)

Alexa Haynes-Pilon, cello

Canadian-born Alexa Haynes-Pilon has been described by Early Music America as “a special artist with a brilliant future,” Alexa Haynes-Pilon has quickly established herself in the early music scene, performing on baroque cello, viola da gamba, baroque bassoon and dulcian. She is the principal cellist of both Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and Opera Neo, and co-director and cellist/gambist of Musica Pacifica. She has performed with numerous American ensembles, including the American Bach Soloists, The Washington Bach Consort, Pacific Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Choir, Bach Collegium San Diego, Burning River Baroque, the Albany Consort, the American Contemporary Ballet, Handel Choir of Baltimore, Con Gioia, and more. In Toronto, she was a founding member of the early music ensemble, Rezonance, and performed with Accenti Vocali and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. She has concertized throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Bogotà, Mexico City, and, most recently, Budapest, where she collaborated with the Hungarian State Opera. She has recorded for the TV show, Hannibal, and was the featured solo cellist on the soundtrack to the highly acclaimed 2017 documentary That Never Happened: Canada’s First National Internment Operations. Her recent album recordings include Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen Sings Gluck, Handel, & Vivaldi with the American Bach Soloists, Agostino Steffani: A son trés-humble service, Duets for Sophie Charlotte of Hanover under the direction of harpsichordist, Jory Vinikour on the Musica Omnia label, and François Couperin: Concert Royaux with Stephen Schultz, Mindy Rosenfeld, and Jory Vinikour on the Music and Arts label.

After completing her BMus and MMus in cello performance at Brandon University, Alexa Haynes-Pilon earned a performance certificate from the University of Toronto in connection with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, studying cello with Christina Mahler and viola da gamba with Joëlle Morton. Alexa recently completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, where she studied baroque cello and viola da gamba with William Skeen, and baroque bassoon and dulcian with Charlie Koster. She has participated in most of the major Early Music festivals and workshops in North America including the Tafelmusik Winter and Summer Institutes, the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco, the Vancouver Early Music Festival, the Twin Cities Early Music Festival, and the Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals.

Alexa’s passion is to create music and connect with members of the community, and because of this, she co-founded and was the Artistic Director of Los Angeles Baroque (LAB), a community baroque orchestra based in South Pasadena, CA. In addition, she has introduced thousands of elementary and secondary school students to Renaissance and baroque winds and viols through her work with the Crumhorn Collective, in collaboration with Ars Lyrica Houston’s outreach program in Houston. Alexa has been a guest conductor for the Orange County Recorder Society, the Pacifica Viola da Gamba Society, The Central Coast Recorder Society, the Sacramento Recorder Society, the San Francisco Recorder Society, and the Southern California Recorder Society. She has been a faculty member at the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) Recorder workshop and Baroque workshop (cello and viola da gamba), as well as a faculty member at the Road Scholar Hidden Valley Workshop in Carmel Valley, CA (viola da gamba and dulcian), and at the Port Townsend Early Music Workshop near Seattle (viola da gamba). She has also taught at Claremont Graduate University, and she has given masterclasses at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

She is directing a program for Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in January 2023. She will be going home to conduct the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra in May 2023, and will join the Orchester Wiener Akademie in Austria for a few performances in August 2023.

Strauss Opus 27 Translations

Vier Lieder, opus 27

by Richard Georg Strauss (1864 – 1949)

1. Ruhe, meine Seele!

Nicht ein Lüftchen
Regt sich leise,
Sanft entschlummert
Ruht der Hain;
Durch der Blätter
Dunkle Hülle
Stiehlt sich lichter
Ruhe, ruhe,
Meine Seele,
Deine Stürme
Gingen wild,
Hast getobt und
Hast gezittert,
Wie die Brandung,
Wenn sie schwillt.
Diese Zeiten
Sind gewaltig,
Bringen Herz
Und Hirn in Not —
Ruhe, ruhe,
Meine Seele,
Und vergiß,
Was dich bedroht!

1. Rest, my soul!

Not a breeze
is stirring lightly,
the wood lies
slumbering gently;
through the dark
cover of leaves
steals bright
Rest, rest,
my soul,
your storms
have gone wild,
have raged
and trembled
like the surf
when it breaks.
These times
are powerful,
bringing torment
to heart and mind;
rest, rest,
my soul,
and forget
what is threatening you!

Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
from the LiederNet Archive —

2. Cäcilie

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was träumen heißt von brennenden Küssen,
Von Wandern und Ruhen mit der Geliebten,
Aug in Auge,
Und kosend und plaudernd,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du neigtest dein Herz!

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was bangen heißt in einsamen Nächten,
Umschauert vom Sturm, da niemand tröstet
Milden Mundes die kampfmüde Seele,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du [kämst]1 zu mir.

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was leben heißt, umhaucht von der Gottheit
Weltschaffendem Atem,
Zu schweben empor, lichtgetragen,
Zu seligen [Höhen],
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du lebtest mit mir!

2. Cecily

If you only knew
what it’s like to dream of burning kisses,
of wandering and resting with one’s beloved,
eye turned to eye,
and cuddling and chatting –
if you only knew,
you would incline your heart to me!

If you only knew
what it’s like to feel dread on lonely nights,
surrounded by a raging storm, while no one comforts
with a mild voice your struggle-weary soul –
if you only knew,
you would come to me.

If you only knew
what it’s like to live, surrounded by God’s
world-creating breath,
to float up, carried by the light,
to blessed heights –
if you only knew,
then you would live with me!

Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
from the LiederNet Archive —


3. Heimliche Aufforderung

Auf, hebe die funkelnde Schale empor zum Mund,
Und trinke beim Freudenmahle dein Herz gesund.
Und wenn du sie hebst, so winke mir heimlich zu,
Dann lächle ich und dann trinke ich still wie du…

Und still gleich mir betrachte um uns das Heer
Der trunknen [Schwätzer] — verachte sie nicht zu sehr.
Nein, hebe die blinkende Schale, gefüllt mit Wein,
Und laß beim lärmenden Mahle sie glücklich sein.

Doch hast du das Mahl genossen, den Durst gestillt,
Dann verlasse der lauten Genossen festfreudiges Bild,
Und wandle hinaus in den Garten zum Rosenstrauch,
Dort will ich dich dann erwarten nach altem Brauch,

Und will an die Brust dir sinken, eh du’s [erhofft],
Und deine Küsse trinken, wie ehmals oft,
Und flechten in deine Haare der Rose Pracht.
O [komme], du wunderbare, ersehnte Nacht!

3. Secret invitation

Up, raise the sparkling cup to your lips,
And drink your heart’s fill at the joyous feast.
And when you raise it, so wink secretly at me,
Then I’ll smile and drink quietly, as you…

And quietly as I, look around at the crowd
Of drunken revelers — don’t think too ill of them.
No, lift the twinkling cup, filled with wine,
And let them be happy at the noisy meal.

But when you’ve savored the meal, your thirst quenched,
Then quit the loud gathering’s joyful fest,
And wander out into the garden, to the rosebush,
There shall I await you, as often of old.

And ere you know it shall I sink upon your breast,
And drink your kisses, as so often before,
And twine the rose’s splendour into your hair.
Oh, come, you wondrous, longed-for night!

Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by Lawrence Snyder and Rebecca Plack


4. Morgen!

Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen,
Und auf dem Wege, den ich gehen werde,
Wird uns, die Glücklichen, sie wieder einen
Inmitten dieser [sonne-athmenden]1 Erde . . .

Und zu dem Strand, dem weiten, wogenblauen,
Werden wir still und langsam niedersteigen,
Stumm werden wir uns in die Augen schauen,
Und auf uns sinkt des Glückes stummes Schweigen . . .

4. Tomorrow

And tomorrow the sun will shine again,
and on the path I will take,
it will unite us again, we happy ones,
upon this sun-breathing earth…

And to the shore, the wide shore with blue waves,
we will descend quietly and slowly;
we will look mutely into each other’s eyes
and the silence of happiness will settle upon us.

Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
from the LiederNet Archive —


Danika Lorèn, Soprano

Multifaceted artist Danika Lorèn has not only made a name as a vocalist, but also as a composer. Having obtained a masters degree in opera at the University of Toronto, Danika continued training as a vocalist with the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Program from 2016-18. Some of Danika’s signature roles include: Gilda (Rigoletto), Musetta (La Bohème), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Ginevra/Dalinda (Ariodante), Despina (Così fan Tutte) and Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro).

From 2014-2019, Danika produced and directed five original shows with an ensemble that she founded called Collectìf. In addition to their self-produced work, Collectìf has been featured across Canada with performances with the Toronto Summer Music Festival, Festival Pontiac Enchanté, Canadian Opera Company and Saskatoon Opera Company. Earlier this year, Danika created and directed “Mozart ReReimagined”: a digital concert pastiche in collaboration with Saskatoon Opera, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and Free Flow Dance Theatre.

As a composer, Danika’s work has been presented across Canada by the CBC, the Canadian Art Song Project, Canadian Opera Company, Pacific Opera Victoria and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Internationally, Danika’s work has been performed at the National Sawdust Theatre, at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, at the Leeds Lieder Festival and at Wigmore Hall. Danika has recently joined Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium Young Artists, and continues to build a unique career as a composer and vocalist.

Les Préludes

Liszt himself declared, after becoming an abbé in the Catholic Church, “The best of me is in my religious music.” However, the composer’s judgment has not coincided with posterity’s, which has set the seal of approval on Liszt’s piano concertos and many of his solo piano pieces, and on a select few of his orchestral works. Les préludes is one of these, being the most famous of his 12 symphonic poems. Liszt had a very strong conviction on the subject of program music, namely, that a given story is a symbol of an idea, and that the expounding of the inherent philosophical and humanistic elements of the idea in pure lyricism should be the goal.

In theory, and most often in practice, Liszt, of all the 19th-century composers of program music, was closer to realizing the sense of Beethoven’s preface to his “Pastoral” Symphony: “More the expression of sentiment than painting.” Of course, Liszt, like Beethoven, with his drenchingly graphic rain and thunderstorm, acceded to certain specific picturesque temptations. But essentially the Lisztian imagery is poetically suggestive rather than concretely descriptive, and it was arrived at in original musical ways that worked a profound influence on all those, including Wagner, prepared to accept a new order.

Liszt’s structural means for attaining his goal was the devising of a free form in which a few basic themes undergo continuous transformations of melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, dynamics, or tempo (any one, or several, or all of these simultaneously). Thus, for example, a Lisztian love theme can emerge as a blazing march, or vice-versa. The first-mentioned is precisely what happens in Les préludes. In the climactic section, the pair of lyric themes labeled by Liszt “the enchanted dawn of every life” and containing the work’s pervading three-note motif, are transformed into surging battle calls.

Les préludes was composed in 1854 and to it was appended a program note written by Liszt, indicating that the piece is to be considered a musical depiction of a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine.

“What is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown song whose first solemn note is tolled by death? The enchanted dawn of every life is love. But where is the destiny on whose first delicious joys some storm does not break?… And what soul thus cruelly bruised, when the tempest rolls away, seeks not to rest its memories in the pleasant calm of pastoral life? Yet man does not long permit himself to taste the kindly quiet that first attracted him to nature’s lap. For when the trumpet sounds he hastens to danger’s post, that in the struggle he may once more regain full knowledge of himself and his strength.”

— Orrin Howard

Music Talk – And Tomorrow

We’re live from the travel section of McNally Robinson Booksellers for Music Talk from McNally!

The SSO’s Mark Turner is joined by Nicolas Ellis who leads the SSO in what promises to be a stunning performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird on May 6, 2023. Turner and Ellis will also chat about the other music on the program including Liszt’s Les Préludes, Tailleferre’s Petite Suite pour Orchestre, and Strauss’ Four Lieder featuring the stunning voice of soprano Danika Lorèn.

Music of the Night Acknowledgements


Our sincerest appreciation and thanks to the following individuals and ALL who shared their time and talents to the success of this production

Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra
For their invitation to collaborate for this Broadway spectacular!

All Fireside Singers
For their commitment of time and talent, making this evening possible.

TCU Place
for the use of the Rehearsal venues and stage

Mark Turner

Armand Birk

Artistic Director
Marilyn Whitehead

Pianist and Collaborator
Bonnie Nicholson

Choreographer & Stage Manager
Kelsey Stone

Fireside Coordinators
Meaghan Dormuth and Kennedy Siba

Fireside Production Team
Marilyn Whitehead, Bonnie Nicholson, Kelsey Stone, Kennedy Siba, Kristin Siba, Meaghan Dormuth, Cheryl Kiefer, Brit Tastad, Sarah Chapman

Back Stage Managers
Cheryl Kiefer, Brit Tastad, Tommy Banman, Jennifer Brookman

Megan Grier

Digital Capture & Streaming
ConcertStream Productions: Yash Kathrotia, Matthew Praksas, Darrel Bueckert, and Mark Turner

Media, Publicity, and Promotion
Kennedy Siba, Meaghan Dormuth, Jordie Hughton, Trevor Wingerter, Keara Van Olst, Global TV, Stephen Nicholson, TCU Place, Je Rogstad – CTV, Rawlco Radio, Megan Grier, Brenda Hyland, Sarah Manafo, Robin Burlingham.

Costumes and Wardrobe
Sarah Chapman, Meaghan Dormuth, Gwenda MacPherson, Jan Sedgewick, Persephone Theatre, St. Joseph High School

Stephen Nicholson

Zoom Communications
Jody Coller, Meaghan Dormuth, Damon Tupper, Yash Kathrotia

Our sincere thanks to all parent volunteers
For those parents providing supervision and leadership of rehearsals and performances

Marilyn Whitehead

Marilyn is recognized throughout Western Canada as a teacher, choral director, accompanist and adjudicator. Her students have received numerous scholarships and awards at music festivals at the local, provincial, and national level. They have also consistently been gold medal recipients for examinations through the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Marilyn’s Fireside Singers, founded in 1972, have achieved national recognition, having been awarded first place honours on five occasions at the National Festival competitions. The choir has delighted audience with spectacular Christmas Memories concerts and dynamic Broadway productions.

Marilyn received the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in 2002 and the Saskatchewan Choral Federation Pro Musica Award 2012 for her contributions to the arts in Saskatoon. She is past president of the Saskatoon Registered Teachers Association and for decades has been an active member of the Saskatoon Music Festival Association. This fall, Marilyn was invested with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit as well as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, recognizing a legacy of contribution to the arts in Saskatchewan.

Marilyn received her early musical training from Sister Joan Miller, Douglas Voice, and her mentor Sister Dolores Schneider. She continued her studies with Francis Adaskin, Dr. Lyell Gustin, and Robin Harrison and later had the opportunity to study with Jean Marie Scott and Barbara Collier. She received her ARCT diploma from the Toronto Conservatory of Music for Performance in Voice and Piano. She is indebted to Robert Solem, Dwaine Nelson, David Kaplan, and Robert Klose for their inspiration while she obtained a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and to Sheila Shinkewski and Bonnie Nicholson for their support, inspiration and special friendship.

Marilyn is grateful for the support and love of her husband Ed, who is not only her best friend but her confidant, offering the Fireside Singers his endless energy, brilliant organizational skills and constant creative advice.

Bonnie Nicholson

Bonnie Nicholsons is a pianist, teacher and chamber musician from Saskatoon, SK. Her degrees include a Bachelor of Music (Performance, 1984), and a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Saskatchewan (1987), as well as an A.R.C.T. in Piano Performance from the R.C.M. (1984). Teachers and influences are varied and include her mentor Robin Harrison (Saskatoon), Janet Wendland (Prince Albert), Mark Westcott (Summer School, Vancouver, B.C.) and Claude Savard (Academie d’Orford).

Since 1986, Bonnie has served as a Sessional Lecturer in Piano at the Department of Music, U of S, in Saskatoon. As part of her solo and teaching career, she has received many awards, including the U of S College of Arts and Science Distinguished teacher Award for BA, BFA, and BMus Programs (2018) and the 2020 Teacher of Distinction Award from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

In June of 2012, Bonnie fulfilled a life long dream to tour and teach in China, visiting Universities in five major Chinese cities with saxophonist, Dr. Glen Gillis. In July of 2015, Bonnie accompanied Dr. Gillis at the International Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France and again at the 2018 Congress in Zagreb, Croatia.

Bonnie Nicholson appears on CD with pianist Dianne Gryba, bass-baritone Henri Loiselle, the Saskatoon Children’s Choir, the Saskatoon Fireside Singers, trumpeter Dean McNeill’s disc entitled “Melange”, and saxophonist Glen Gillis’ three discs entitled “SaxSpectrum” 1, 2 and 3.

Bonnie feels lucky to have two amazing sons and two fabulous daughter-in-laws. She loves to travel the world with soul-mate Stephen, and they are proud grandparents to Eli and Margo Lynn. It is a pleasure and honour to make music with the Fireside Family and to celebrate Marilyn for her 50 spectacular years!