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

Marianne Trudel & John Hollenbeck: Dédé Java Espiritu
Thursday, April 11




A piano, a drum set, and a thousand ideas. This is the happy and highly creative encounter ofpianist and composer Marianne Trudel with world-renowned drummer and composer John Hollenbeck. An electrifying, fascinating, enveloping duo, Dédé Java Espiritu plunges the listener into an infinite panorama of colours and grooves inspired by nature. Filled with catchy grooves, enchanting melodies, surprising sonorities, and joyous spontaneity, these compositions are rhythmically and melodically arranged to perfection.

Marianne Trudel is a veritable powerhouse in Canada’s jazz scene. She has produced and multiple artistic projects that showcase her considerable skills as well as her keen sense of creativity. Both energetic and passionate, her music covers a wide array of musical interests. Marianne has performed across North America, Europe, and China and has released 10 critically acclaimed recordings as a leader.

John Hollenbeck possesses a playful versatility and a virtuosic wit. Whether putting pen to paper or conjuring spontaneous sound allergic to repetition, he is essentially a musical thinker and is forever seeking to surprise himself and his audiences. John has received five GRAMMY nominations, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is currently a member of the faculty at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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Dallas Alexander
Thursday, April 18



Hailing from a rough-and-tumble backwoods upbringing in Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in Northern Alberta, Dallas Alexander weaves his Métis roots with stories amassed over a decade-plus career serving in a tier-one special operations unit in the Canadian military. Dallas serves up a unique sound and country music lovers are in for a gritty-outlaw vibe inspired by music legends Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Sponsored by Black Fox Farm & Distillery

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Abigail Lapell
Friday, April 19

SONGWRITER SERIES • DOORS @ 7:30pm • SHOW @ 8:30pm


Toronto songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell returns with Anniversary, an evocative collection of original love songs produced by Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker. Lapell’s deft lyrics jostle with love song tropes, grappling with love’s finitude and the irony of how codependency and longing are revered in popular music. Balancing upbeat earworms with elegiac ballads, Anniversary ultimately emerges as an earnest celebration of commitment. A stellar cast of musicians rounds out Lapell’s powerhouse vocals, piano, harmonica and fingerstyle guitar. Anniversary is out May 10, 2024 on Outside Music.

Sponsored by Backyard Living Center

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Claude Bourbon
Tuesday, April 23



Guitarist Claude Bourbon is known for his amazing performances that are a breathtaking acoustic fusion of blues, jazz, classical, and Spanish guitar. His inimitable style takes the acoustic guitar into uncharted territories, with all five digits on each hand dancing independently but in unison, plucking, picking, and strumming with such speed and precision that his fingers often merge into a blur. Having built up a following of loyal fans all over the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America, Claude returns for his fifth visit to the Bassment.

Sponsored by CFCR

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Daniel Champagne
Wednesday, April 24



Daniel Champagne lives and breathes live music. Described as “a leading light in acoustic music”, Daniel picked up the guitar as a five-year-old following in the footsteps of his musical father. He began writing songs at 12, training classically throughout his teens and performing wherever he could. At 18 he finished school, turned professional, and hit the road. Since then Daniel has released seven studio albums, toured relentlessly around the globe playing some of the biggest festivals under the sun, and shared stages with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, INXS, Lucinda Williams, and Judy Collins. His latest Canadian tour will include 56 shows from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland!

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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The Mary Ancheta Quartet
Friday, April 26



Keyboardist Mary Ancheta is a Canadian Filipina artist who steps into the spotlight with her genre-bending organic, modern take on jazz and electro-funk. Inspired by the likes of Squarepusher, The Meters, John Scofield, and Prince, Ancheta knows what’s up when it comes to arresting melodies and irresistible grooves. Her quartet includes Trent Otter (drums), Dominic Conway (sax), and Matt Reid (bass). Encompassing her experience in film scoring Ancheta seeks to tap into raw fuelled moments favouring grittiness over perfection.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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