• Cris Derksen / Red Works

Saskatoon’s Ritornello back with a surreal music experience

Cris Derksen / Red Works

Cellist & composer Cris Derksen takes traditional Chamber music and turns it on its head. (Red Works)

Looping pedals, clapping and electronic beats, they’re hardly the traditional elements of chamber music but then the Ritornello festival has been designed to push limits this year. Back for it’s eighth installment, the festival is featuring some of the most modern and accomplished chamber musicians on stage today.

Gryphon Trio / Gryphon Trio

The Gryphon Trio is ready to excite music fans at this year’s Ritornello Festival. (Andrew Kwan Artists)

The lineup begins with Juno Award winning Gryphon Trio.This is a group that’s been acclaimed all over the world for it’s traditional and contemporary chamber work. This week, Saskatoon musicians are going to benefit from the trio’s 20 year career.  The Gryphon Trio will not only be performing Friday and Sunday night, but the musicians will also be teaching a master class earlier in the week. “This is a chance for our community to grow and the audience to expand their definition of chamber music,” says artistic director Jacqueline Woods. “We want to break down barriers and push the limits on classical music ideals.”

“We want to break down barriers and push the limits on classical music ideals.”

Cellist and composer Cris Derksen is sure to help defy convention with her contemporary spin on classical music. She combines her classical training with electronic beats into music that’s been called “genre defying”.

Derksen will take the stage Saturday night as will local composer Darren Miller. Miller and Woods (also a pianist) will be playing a piece that experiments with scratches, hisses and knocks. “The music is really unusual and surreal,” says Woods. “We’ve even commissioned a couple Radiohead arrangements and will be performing them with string quartet and other instruments.”

Festival organizers say if you’re new to the classical realm of music, this festival is for you. They insist there is equal parts traditional chamber as well as pop and experimental influences and there is something for every taste. “Chamber is all about music written and performed in small venues,” says Woods. “The focus is on sharing, staying intimate and connected to the world of music and each other.”

The Ritornello Festival runs May 27 – 29 at various venues in Saskatoon. Tickets are between $15-$30, weekend passes are also available. Click here for more details.