Violinist William Boan will make his solo orchestral debut Saturday night. (Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra)
When you ask Saskatoon violinist William Boan about his approaching concert with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, he shows no sign of jitters. When you mention that he’s sharing the bill with Polaris prize winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who usually sells out, he still doesn’t flinch. Could it be his current training to become a lawyer? Or, perhaps it’s that he’s always had high stakes as a performer. In 2012 Boan was named the youngest assistant-concert master in Canada, at 17, with the SSO. He’s won many prestigious competitions including the 2015 Shurniak Concerto Competition. When it comes to talking about his solo orchestral debut this Saturday, Boan is calm and collected.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “Soloing is a different world for a string player. Even if it’s an exposed part, I’m usually playing with 9 other people and the focus is more on blending. Being the soloist, your line is critical to the piece, it’s a much different feeling.” Boan says he does expect to get swept up in the performance of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto Op. 14.
“This will be the first time I play it with the backing of the full orchestra, violinists don’t usually get this opportunity and the piece is absolutely beautiful,” he says. “Barber’s concerto is a perfect mix. It’s 20th Century modern and still very romantic.”
The opportunity to perform came at a time when Boan was actually stepping back from music. He left Saskatoon and the SSO to study law at the University of Toronto earlier this year. When the call came to come home for the show it was a offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It’s going to be pretty cool to share the evening with Tanya Tagaq. She blows my mind and is an incredible performer.” Boan jokes that there’s a little added pressure that comes along with the performance, “She will blow everyone’s mind, make them question arts and have them excited. Compared to her, I’m just, well normal.”
For Boan the best part of the whole gig is getting back together with his musical family at the SSO. His girlfriend Sophie McBean still plays with the orchestra. “She has all sorts of wisdom and advice for Saturday’s show,” he says. Boan will also be once again be sharing music with his mentor and former stand mate, Michael Swan. “It was so wonderful playing with Michael for all those years. I learned so much from him and I’m so looking forward to sharing music again.”
As for those debut jitters, still no sign of them. Boan says it’s all about being backed by friends and family on and off the stage.
“I’m very sure the SSO players are so on my side for this performance and I imagine that the audience will be too.”
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Masters 2 With Tanya Tagaq
Feat. William Boan & Christine Duncan
Sat. Nov. 18
Tickets: $15 – $80