The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra

The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra Inc. serves elementary, high school, and university students from Saskatoon and surrounding communities, and consists of two programs. The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra is a full orchestra for players aged 14 to 25 under the direction of Richard Carnegie. Repertoire consists of professional calibre music in a broad range of styles.

The youth orchestra remains an important source of the city’s classical musicians. Many SYO alumni have gone on to share their talent as professional performers or educators. Many others have become leaders in the community. Among alumni are Michael Swan, concertmaster of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Peter England, longtime music teacher and Saskatoon Summer Players producer, and Saskatoon city councillor Mairen Loewen. Music directors have included founder Murray Adaskin, Dr. David Kaplan, Dwain Nelson and Jack Johnson. The modern SYO began in 1983 and was led for 25 years by Wayne Toews and George Charpentier. 

William Rowson was a member of the SYO violin section throughout the 1990-1993 seasons, starting as one of the youngest members at the time. He vividly remembers walking into the rehearsal room when they were beginning to play a piece he composed himself, being swept up in the soundscape.

Richard Carnegie SYO Music Director

SYO music director Richard CarnegieRichard Carnegie has been principal double bass of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Players since 2006 and was appointed music director of the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra in July 2009. His creative activities blur the line of a traditional classical musician and include a professional acting debut with Persephone Theatre, frequent performances with the Mark DeJong Trio, collaborations with singer-songwriters and rock bands and his one-man show “Conversations with My Double Bass.”

Richard served as instructor of the youth orchestra’s Double Bass Program from 2006-2008 and continues to work as a sessional lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Saskatchewan. He enjoys a busy private teaching studio and is a frequent clinician in Saskatoon-area schools. Receiving a Bachelor of Music in 2003 from the Manhattan School of Music, Richard pursued additional studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School and the National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute. His principal teachers were Joel Quarrington and Timothy Cobb. While these teachers along with experiences in youth orchestras were the shaping musical forces in Richard’s youth, it is his parents whom he credits for the great fortune to have a professional life filled with music. While neither are musicians, neither flinched at the idea of the first person in the family to obtain a degree doing so in music. Both were committed to supporting anything that was done with drive, hard work and passion; values they themselves instilled.

In his spare time Richard is an avid cook, reader and board game enthusiast. He has served as chair of the Saskatoon Symphony Players’ Committee and on the executive board of the Saskatoon Musicians’ Association. He plays on a double bass made by Saskatoon luthier Darren Molnar.

Bernadette Wilson Saskatoon Strings Music Director

Bernadette Wilson has been conducting the Saskatoon Strings since 2002. She has founded other groups such as the ‘Saskatoon Suzuki Cello’ program, the cello choir ‘Molto Cellissimo’, and under her direction the Mesh String Quartet won first prize at the Canadian Music Competitions in Toronto in 2004.

Bernadette has a B.A. with high honours as well as a B.Ed. with great distinction, both from the University of Saskatchewan. Before becoming a professional musician, she taught both music and French for five years in the Saskatoon School System. Bernadette studied cello for seven years with Gary Russell of the Montreal Symphony and with Janos Starker at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Her teaching skills were further honed through extensive training in the Suzuki Method.

Bernadette has been a member of the cello section in the Saskatoon Symphony since 1979 and teaches cello from her home to students ranging in age from four to 75. Watching the growth in her students’ skills has been a source of joy and satisfaction for her. From her Suzuki training Bernadette learned that you are never too old and rarely too young to study and enjoy music.

In addition to her dedication to music, Bernadette has a passion both for palaeontology and her family. She collected fossils all her life, and has taken every palaeontology class offered by the U of S and has donated many of her finds to the Geology Department. Before starting her family she spent seven summers working in the field for the Tyrell Museum, and one summer for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Bernadette has two children, Robin, a professional animator who lives in Vancouver, and Heather, a professional musician; both were members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

Andrew Kesler, composer

Andrew Kesler (b. 1988)
Andrew Kesler is an award-winning Canadian musician, composer, orchestrator and producer based in Los Angeles and is a founding member of the international jazz vocal group Accent. Born and raised in Saskatoon, music has taken Kesler around the world performing with headlining acts in over 20 countries. Recent achievements include his work as orchestrator/arranger on The Manhattan Transfer’s most recent Grammy-nominated album FIFTY.
As a multi-instrumentalist music director and sideman his credits include industry icons David Foster, Michael Bublé, Seal, John Mayer, Babyface, Jacob Collier, Jennifer Holliday, Tom Scott, Peter Erskine, and two seasons in the America’s Got Talent house band. In the studio, Kesler shifts his focus to writing, arranging and producing for established artists including Arturo Sandoval, Pentatonix, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Take 6, The Manhattan Transfer, and The 8-Bit Big Band in addition to media work including orchestrations for the 2022 feature film “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”.
Often referred to as the “Gadget Man” for his ability to work seamlessly in many roles, Kesler has credited contributions on hundreds of recordings spanning all genres. Kesler has had the privilege to collaborate with the WDR Funkhausorchester, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Budapest Scoring Orchestra, Guy Barker’s Jazz Orchestra, Croatian Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra, and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Kesler serves on the board of directors for the American Society of Music Arrangers & Composers (ASMAC). Kesler received his Bachelor’s Degree with Honors from Humber College in Toronto studying jazz piano and music production and went on to earn his Master’s Degree with Distinction from the University of Chichester in England studying orchestration for film, television and video games. His concept album of piano/violin duets Dragon Suite, a collaboration with violinist Aline Homzy, won best “Contemporary Classical Album” at the Independent Music Awards in 2013.

Musician | Producer | Composer | Arranger | Orchestrator | Educator

Suite for the Prairies 

Suite for the Prairies (for Symphony Orchestra) – 2021

Composed by Andrew Kesler

Kesler shares the following thoughts on his composition:
My career has provided me many unique and wonderful opportunities to travel and witness the natural splendor in many parts of the world. However, nothing compares to the beauty of my home province of Saskatchewan. There is a spirit in both the land and its people that resonates with me deeply, and I recently experienced that firsthand during the pandemic when I moved back to Saskatoon temporarily to be with family. Upon arrival back to Canada I spent my fourteen-day quarantine in the family cabin at Fur Lake where I was completely disconnected from the manic Hollywood music industry that had become my norm, and instead exposed to the vast nature where I spent much of my youth. It was this sudden change in perspective and environment that planted the musical seeds that would eventually turn into this piece. A later trip to the Western Development Museum sparked my interest in re-learning the history of this province and specifically the challenges of the homesteaders and pioneers who decided to settle here. 
This composition was written in the pastoral orchestral style established by composers Aaron Copland and Bruce Broughton, and my goal is to take the listener through a conceptual “year on the prairies”. There are two main musical themes throughout the piece: the first being a broad yet simple melody that characterizes both the majesty of the landscape and the warmth that the feeling of “home” evokes. The second is a jaunty tune that represents the hustle and bustle of the animals and people who inhabit the land to show that, while sparse, our home is one full of activity. These themes are then manipulated throughout to add momentum and drama; perhaps a thunderstorm causes disruption, or the biting chill of winter sets in. The narrative is yours to create, let the music provide the setting.
My sincere gratitude to the SSO for premiering this composition. For many reasons, it feels appropriate that its debut should take place in the land that inspired it.

Music Talk – Sask Celebration

Guest host, and SSO principal flute, Joey (Xiaoying) Zhuang sits down to chat with Sask Celebration conductor William Rowson on Tuesday, March 19th, live from the McNally Robinson Travel Alcove.


Jean Sibelius, composer

Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, née Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, was born on December 8th, 1865 in Hämeenlinna (Swedish: Tavastehus) in the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. He was the son of the Swedish-speaking medical doctor Christian Gustaf Sibelius and Maria Charlotta Sibelius (née Borg).

His father passed away when Sibelius was young so his family moved into the home of his maternal grandmother. Sibelius’ uncle, Pehr Ferdinand Sibelius, who was interested in music, gave the boy a violin when he was ten years old and later encouraged him to maintain his interest in composition.

Sibelius spent many of his childhood summers wandering around the countryside. His strong love of nature shines through in many of his compositions. His family moved to Loviisa on the coast for the summer months. In his own words: “For me, Loviisa represented sun and happiness. Hämeenlinna was where I went to school; Loviisa was freedom.”

After graduating from high school in 1885, Sibelius began to study law at the Imperial Alexander University in Finland but, showing far more interest in music, soon moved to the Helsinki Music Institute (now the Sibelius Academy) where he studied from 1885 to 1889.

Initially, Sibelius wanted to be a violinist,

My tragedy was that I wanted to be a celebrated violinist at any price. Since the age of 15 I played my violin practically from morning to night. I hated pen and ink—unfortunately I preferred an elegant violin bow. My love for the violin lasted quite long and it was a very painful awakening when I had to admit that I had begun my training for the exacting career of a virtuoso too late.

He came to realize that his strengths lay in composition. One of his teachers, Martin Wegelius, gave the self-taught Sibelius his first formal lessons in composition. Sibelius continued his studies in Berlin (from 1889 to 1890) with Albert Becker, and in Vienna (from 1890 to 1891) with Robert Fuchs and the Hungarian-Jewish Karl Goldmark. In Berlin, he had the opportunity to widen his musical experience by going to a variety of concerts and operas, including the premiere of Richard Strauss’s Don Juan.

While Sibelius was studying music in Helsinki in the autumn of 1888, Armas Järnefelt, a friend from the Music Institute, invited him to the family home. There he met and immediately fell in love with Aino, the 17-year-old daughter of General Alexander Järnefelt, the governor of Vaasa, and Elisabeth Clodt von Jürgensburg, a Baltic aristocrat.

When Sibelius completed his studies, he married Aisno in June 1892 at Maxmo. They spent their honeymoon in Karelia, the home of the Kalevala. It served as an inspiration for Sibelius’s tone poem En saga, the Lemminkäinen legends and the Karelia Suite.  Their home, Ainola, was completed on Lake Tuusula, Järvenpää, in 1903. During the years at Ainola, they had six daughters: Eva, Ruth, Kirsti (who died aged one from typhoid), Katarina, Margareta and Heidi.

He began premiering his orchestral works in 1892 with Kullervo. It was described by Juho Ranta who sang in the choir as, “Finnish music.” Thus began a long career of creating works that encapsulated Finnish music.

On the evening of 20 September 1957, Sibelius died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 91. At the time of his death, his Fifth Symphony, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent, was being broadcast by radio from Helsinki. At the same time, the United Nations General Assembly was in session, and the then President of the Assembly, Sir Leslie Munro of New Zealand, called for a moment of silence and delivered a eulogy: “Sibelius belonged to the whole world. He enriched the life of the entire human race with his music”. Sibelius was honoured with a state funeral and is buried in the garden at Ainola.

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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