Dr. Christy Morrissey

About Christy Morrissey and her research on birds…

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) was the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of over-reliance on toxic chemicals that can harm birds and other biodiversity.  Once common, now many migratory species such as swallows, sparrows, blackbirds and shorebirds are showing steep population declines. Dr. Christy Morrissey, a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Biology, continues Carson’s important work by conducting research into the root causes of migratory bird and insect declines from pesticides and other pollutants. Her research also seeks to understand how nature-based solutions that diversify plants and protect habitats in agricultural landscapes can harness the power of biodiversity to increase food production while minimizing environmental damageDr. Morrissey has been featured broadly in the national and international media (CBC, National Geographic, Nature of Things, The Messenger Documentary etc) for her research on pesticide impacts and conservation of birds, insects and Prairie wetlands and was delighted to work with Vincent Ho to help inspire this beautiful “Whimsical Concerto of Fanciful Birds”.

Vincent Ho, composer

Man with dark hair wearing dark clothing standing amidst floating pages of sheet music. This is composer Vincent Ho.

Man with dark hair wearing dark clothing standing amidst floating pages of sheet music. This is composer Vincent Ho.Vincent Ho is a multi-award winning composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and theatre music. His works have been described as “brilliant and compelling” by The New York Times and hailed for their profound expressiveness and textural beauty, leaving audiences talking about them with great enthusiasm. His many awards and recognitions have included four Juno Award nominations, Harvard University’s Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts’ “Robert Fleming Prize”, ASCAP’s “Morton Gould Young Composer Award”, four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio’s Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers’ Competition).

During the period of 2007-2014, Dr. Ho has served as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence and had presented a number of large-scale works that have generated much excitement and critical praise. His Arctic Symphony has been described “as a beautiful work that evokes the Far North in a very special way” (John Corigliano), and “a mature and atmospheric work that firmly establishes Ho among North American composers of note” (Winnipeg Free Press). His percussion concerto, titled The Shaman, composed for Dame Evelyn Glennie was hailed as a triumph, receiving unanimous acclaim and declared by critics as “Spectacular” (The New York Classical Review), “A powerhouse work” (The Winnipeg Free Press), and “Rocking/mesmerizing…downright gorgeous” (The Pittsburgh Gazette). His second concerto for Glennie titled From Darkness To Light, Ho’s musical response to the cancer illness, was lauded as “a lasting masterpiece of sensitivity and perception” (Winnipeg Free Press). His cello concerto, City Suite, composed for Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston, has received similar praise with critics calling it “Thrilling” (Windsor Star) and “Overflowing with striking ideas…The most successful piece heard at this year’s Festival” (Classical Voice America).

Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1975, Vincent Ho began his musical training through Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music where he earned his Associate Diploma in Piano Performance. He gained his Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary, his Master of Music from the University of Toronto, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California. His mentors have included Allan Bell, David Eagle, Christos Hatzis, Walter Buczynski, and Stephen Hartke. In 1997, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Schola Cantorum Summer Composition Program in Paris, where he received further training in analysis, composition, counterpoint, and harmony, supervised by David Diamond, Philip Lasser, and Narcis Bonet.

In his free time, he enjoys running, reading, traveling, dancing, hiking, playing chess, and learning the keyboard works of Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, and Ligeti (among many others). He is also an enthusiast of old-time radio shows, photography, crime noir, Zen art, jazz, Jimi Hendrix, graphic novels, and Stanley Kubrick films.

Dr. Ho has taught at the University of Calgary and currently serves as Artistic Director to Land’s End Ensemble. His works are published and managed by Promethean Editions Ltd and Theodore Presser Company.


The Angel and the Mockingbird

The basis of the 2nd movement of Vincent Ho’s concerto Whimsical Concerto of Fanciful Birds is a piece called The Angel and the Mockingbird.
Ho sent us a recording created by Jeremy Brown (saxophone) and Lana Henchell (piano). Take a listen before and after the concert to see what similarities and differences you notice between the piece and the second movement of the concerto (Angels and Mockingbirds).

Whimsical Concerto of Fanciful Birds

Cover image from Vincent Ho’s concerto sketches

Whimsical Concerto of Fanciful Birds:
I. Enchanted Migrations
II. Angels and Mockingbirds
III. Urban Birds

This concerto represents the culmination of my years of writing for saxophone, namely in the series “Whimsical Sketches of Fanciful Birds, Books 1-3” for alto saxophone and piano. This series are a collection of fifteen works that explore various bird-like or bird-inspired sounds that could be created on the saxophone instrument. After writing this collection (with the possibility of more to come), the inevitable next step was to adapt many of these musical ideas into a large-scale concerto. To fully capture the spirit of the avian world I envisioned, I decided to score it for solo alto saxophone, orchestra, AND spatialized saxophone ensemble – a collective of saxophonists placed in various areas of the concert hall surrounding the audience (eg. loges, balconies, aisles, etc) to serve as the “flock of birds” accompanying the soloist and orchestra while creating an immersive sonic experience.

This work was commissioned by The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra with support from The Alberta Foundation of the Arts and Calgary Arts Development, and was written for my close saxophone colleagues Dr. Timothy McAllister and Dr. Jeremy Brown. I thank the following people who contributed to my creative process with their invaluable input:
– Mark Turner
– Louise Bernice Halfe
– Dr. Christy Morrissey
– Walt DeBoni
– Trevor Herriott
– Bob McGuire
– Gerhard Westphalen
– The graduate students of University of Saskatchewan’s Environmental Science and Biology Departments:
o Jory Litt-Jukes
o Shuqi Ren
o Ana Maria Diaz
o Kayla Caruso
o Biyao Han
o Sonia Cabezas


From composer Vincent Ho

Sergei Rachmaninoff, composer

Legendary Russian-American composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff left Russia after the Communist revolution of 1917. He was born on April 2, 1873, on a big estate near Novgorod, Russia. From the age of four, Rachmaninoff studied music with his mother; he continued his studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and the Moscow Conservatory under the guidance of professors Arensky, Taneyev, and Tchaikovsky.

Rachmaninoff’s concert performances were legendary, and he was recognized as a great pianist with unmatched power, emotion and technical excellence. He could reach a twelfth, or an octave and a half, or, for example, from middle C to high G, thanks to his huge hands. Rachmaninoff frequently used musical references from folk ballads, jazz, oriental music, and more into his own pieces. He wrote music with unusually wide chords and intensely romantic melody lines.

Join us at the Hub

The concert ends, you exit TCU Place, and you’re still brimming with excitement after such a fabulous evening. Where to next?

Cross the street and join us over at the Hub at Holiday Inn!

It’s the perfect place to grab a post-concert drink, and snack, alongside fellow SSO patrons, musicians, and the feature guest artists.

We have complimentary appetizers on a first come first-serve basis!


What’s happening at the Bassment

The Bassment is one of Canada’s premier jazz clubs and provides musicians of all skill levels a venue to showcase their talents in front of a live audience while accessing a variety of professional, concert-grade instruments. The club offers an intimate, personal concert space with a world-class stage for local, national, and international artists.

Here’s a sample of what’s happening next at The Bassment

Creedence Clearwater Revival Revisited featuring Ross Neilsen
Friday, February 2



With over two decades of experience in the music business, Ross Neilsen has played on stages from Montreal to Mexico, all the while acquiring a handsome list of industry accolades. Most comfortable settled in behind a mic performing his own compositions, as well as tunes by some of his favourite songwriters, Ross’ million miles of travel and thousands of performances give him the confidence to feel right at home whenever and wherever he plugs in.

Ross revisits the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival during a night that celebrates the music of one of the greatest bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s. With 14 consecutive Top 10 ten singles, five Top 10 albums, and a performance at the original Woodstock, CCR’s music has stood the test of time and remains as relevant as ever. Ross is joined by Fabian Minnema (guitar), Chris Mason (bass), and Lucas Goetz (drums).

Sponsored by Wright Construction

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The B .C. Read Big Band
Friday, February 9




Possessing a soulful blues rasp and a bag full of great blues tunes, home-town legend B.C. Read has been preaching the gospel of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B King, and Muddy Waters to audiences all over Western Canada for 40 years. Returning to play his annual mid-winter gig at The Bassment, B.C. has lined up his favourite musicians to perform a night of blues classics and originals.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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The Slocan Ramblers
Sunday, February 11




The reigning champions of Canadian bluegrass, the Slocan Ramblers are back showcasing their unique blend of bluegrass, old-time, and folk. The band’s set list is marked by thoughtful songwriting, lightning fast-instrumentals, and sawdust-thick vocals.

This show will feature the Ramblers at the top of their game playing selections from their three previous releases and their latest album, Up the Hill and Through the Fog. Say hello to your new favourite band!

Sponsored by Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Society

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Oral Fuentes Reggae Band
Friday, February 16



Oral Fuentes’ musical journey began in his home country of Belize, where he played for many local and national events in the popular Belizean group, Caribbean Jam. Oral and his 9-piece Saskatoon band play an infectious set list of original tunes fusing Reggae and Afro/Latin. Joining Oral are Lucianus Best (keyboards), Dave Nelson (trumpet), Mike Kereiff (trumpet), Claire Anderson (trumpet), Joseph Ashong (percussion), Zender Millar (bass), and Rocky Delis (drums).

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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60 Years of Summer Players: A Musical Theatre Showcase
Saturday, February 17




Embark on a musical journey that looks back on the past 60 years of Saskatoon Summer Players, as well as into where we hope to go next. This extraordinary event promises a show filled with nostalgia, talent, and the magic of musical theatre. Directed by Matt Olson, our cast features a stellar lineup of performers, both seasoned veterans and rising stars, who bring along their talents and passion for performance as we relive iconic moments, beloved characters, and show-stopping numbers that have left an indelible mark on Saskatoon Summer Players’ illustrious history. Get ready to laugh, cry, and cheer for 60 years of spectacular performances!

Presented by Saskatoon Summer Players and The Saskatoon Jazz Society

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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Super Chikan and Steve Marriner
Friday, February 23


James “Super Chikan” Johnson is the real deal! Based in Clarksdale Mississippi, he builds many of his own guitars. Backed by The Mojo Stars,  Super Chikan brings us an evening of high-energy blues.

Steve needs no introduction. He’s been knocking out audiences for years, on his own and with Monkeyjunk. We are lucky to be featuring Steve for the first time with his own band “Local Electric”.

Presented by the Saskatoon Blues Society

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