Playing It By Ear – Season 91

What are we doing next year?

Intriguingly I ask myself this question more than people ask it of me. Usually spring is filled with announcements of plans for the upcoming year but this year Eric and I made the decision that, instead of releasing the plans we had in place for the SSO’s 91st season, we’re going to play it by ear.

From the start of the pandemic we’ve been securely focused on two things: keeping everyone at the SSO safe and making sure we kept our musicians playing. I’m extremely proud that we’ve done both very successfully. It’s been an incredible amount of work and full of daily unpredictable stressors, but its also been a time of great growth and we’ve learned that when faced with the need to break the mold, we can!

Our industry got into the rhythm of long term planning decades ago. Orchestras typically plan a few years ahead in order to make sure they have a road map for programming, connect with guest artists, and keep the machine of production moving ahead.
But every time Eric and I have sat down to think about “next season”, we find ourselves faced with the reality that planning a season seems counter-intuitive right now.

We programmed our anniversary 90th season on the fly, sometimes having to adjust programming just days before a performance to ensure that the music allowed us to properly distance or meet protocols. What’s come from that is a very cool artistic energy. Rather than knowing months or years in advance of what’s to come next, we learned to create as we go.

The reality for our 91st season is that we don’t quite know what the pandemic will bring in the weeks and months ahead.

Last year in April, we still had a glimmer of hope that the fall would proceed…so if we’ve learned anything from this challenging year its that we have to remain on our feet, ready to adapt, and play it by ear.

We are looking forward to how exciting it will be to have a full orchestra on stage again, and even more thrilling to have it play to a packed house – but we are ready to wait until its safe to do so.

So, this spring there won’t be a launch of a season. No subscriber forms to fill out.

Don’t worry though – we’re keeping your seats for you. When the time comes, we’ll be ready for it – but for now we’ll wait until its safe to get the band back together. We’re already mapping out plans for fall that includes all sorts of variables – we’re attempting to address every scenario from a full stage and hall, to continuing to safely live stream. We know for sure that streaming is here to stay, and we’re busy at work right now to make our Digital Concert Stream more user friendly and more accessible for patrons old and new.

Improvised, adaptive, and nimble programming helped get us through this first year of the pandemic, and just like playing it by ear it’s made us a whole lot more creative!

Stay well and listen to good music,

Mark Turner
Executive Director

1 thought on “Playing It By Ear – Season 91”

  1. Extremely glad to read that the Digital Concert stream will continue. Living in Prince Albert, it is not always practical to drive to Saskatoon when it is minus 30!

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