Celebrating Margaret Wilson

StarPhoenix article with Margaret Wilson (Née Bluhm)

Our beloved principal clarinet Margaret Wilson is retiring after 47 seasons with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

We are fairly certain that Margaret is the longest-serving principal clarinet of any organization in Canada. She’s also close to having been the longest-serving principal clarinet in North America beaten out only by Stanley Drucker of the New York Philharmonic whose 49 years made the Guinness Book of World Records. Needless to say, Margaret has given an incredible amount of her time and talents to the SSO and her retirement is well-earned.

In September 1977, Margaret Bluhm arrived from British Columbia and began her career as an artist in residence and the principal clarinet of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Lucky for us, Margaret met her husband within the first month of moving to Saskatoon and her prairie roots only continued to grow.

She began playing the clarinet in grade 7 as a part of her school’s band program. (We love our band teachers!) In a 2020 chat with Music Director Emeritus Eric Paetkau Margaret mentioned that she didn’t know anything about the instrument when she picked it out but “it wasn’t too big” and that she “loved it from the very beginning”.

It’s incredibly special to have talent like Margaret be a part of an organization for so long. She has played well over a thousand concerts with the SSO, in Saskatoon and the surrounding area, including shows at TCU place, chamber shows at venues like the Bessborough and now Grosvenor Park United, elementary schools around the city, assisted living facilities, toddler shows, tours, and so much more.

We aren’t the only ones that have benefited from Margaret’s talents. She has collaborated with musicians and groups around the city as a performer, and she has taught many young clarinettists over the years. Between her private studio and her work at the University of Saskatchewan, Margaret has an incredible legacy of students who have benefited from her wisdom.

Margaret is always a joy to play with. Not only is she talented and incredibly well-prepared, but she has a calm and joyful presence. This presence seems to radiate out and elevate every ensemble she performs with. Ask any of our musicians and they can tell you how Margaret has influenced them over the years both as artists and in their everyday lives.

At our concert on May 4, 2024, CEO Mark Turner will gift Margaret with the title Clarinet Emeritus. While she will no longer be our principal clarinet as of next fall, she will always have a place with the SSO. We hope you join us in giving Margaret a very well-deserved standing ovation. We owe her that, and so much more.

While we are very selfishly sad to see her go, we look forward to seeing photos of Margaret’s incredible garden (with 18+ varieties of tomato plants) and hope that she has a well-earned rest before she tackles her next adventure. (Perhaps she’s learning other new instruments? At one time she was learning the bassoon!)

In 2020 we did a series of “Meet the Musician” interviews hosted by Eric Paetkau while everyone was isolating at home. So you can hear Margaret chat a little bit about herself, and answer questions that came up in the chat from friends, fans, and colleagues.


(We’ve learned a lot about live streams since the spring of 2020!)

We have so many fond memories of working and making music with Margaret, and we’re grateful to have captured the last few years of our time together on video. You can revisit many wonderful Margaret moments over on ConcertStream.tv

As a special treat, we will finish with some lovely photos and a link to Margaret’s holiday treat Pfeffernüsse!

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