Risks, relationships and financial stability; what a difference five years makes. Moving to Saskatoon to take up the baton with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra was something maestro Eric Paetkau knew he wanted to do right away. The multiple Juno Award nominee made the leap from Toronto to take the position as music director in 2015.
“Artistic excellence has always been my goal. I wanted to create something special,” says Paetkau. “It helped that the SSO had a clear vision for the orchestra and wanted to connect further with the audience.”
Paetkau has been a breath of fresh air for the SSO.
“He brought a passion for the music and a focus on community connections which everyone in town needed to see in the SSO.”
“He brought a passion for the music and a focus on community connections which everyone in town needed to see in the SSO,” says executive director Mark Turner. “Eric’s arrival created a unity within the orchestra. In his very first concert, he conducted by memory. It’s a gesture that shows the audience and musicians his commitment.”
Five years ago, the orchestra was facing a large deficit. Single ticket sales were slow and subscriptions dropping. It was a trend many feared. Were orchestras becoming relics of the entertainment world? Thanks to a new strategic direction from the organization, the SSO is now deficit free and is working on an ambitious 10-year strategic plan ahead of its 100th anniversary in 2030.
Paetkau is committed to connecting with the community through concerts, outreach and educational events. He says it’s all about sharing his passion for new music, Canadian repertoire and homegrown performers with the audience.
“There’s a certain joy in all music-making, whether it’s serious music or not. You can achieve excellence and express whatever emotions the music has to offer,“ says Paetkau. “We have an audience that is ready to engage in something new and take risks.”
The orchestra will do just that on opening night. The concert will feature a work by Saskatchewan composer Laura Pettigrew as well as Canadian cellist Stéphane Tétrault who is returning to perform Devorak’s Cello Concerto in A Major. The orchestra will also be performing Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in e Minor.
Paetkau says, “The last five years have proven when you have certain expectations of yourself and others from a positive way of being, things can change.”
SSO Opening Night – Brahms 4
Saturday Sept. 21, 2019
$32 – $73
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