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.

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