Programming live music performance in 2020 has been an ever-evolving puzzle for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. The SSO returned to the concerts this fall and received applause from all over the world for its live and live stream model. The orchestra’s careful planning brought the joy of live music back to the stage but now, with COVID-19 cases rising in Saskatchewan, it has decided to change course.
“We’ve been constantly assessing what’s been going on, where the pandemic is at. We’ve been in touch with the health authority and I’m meeting with the province’s business task force,” says executive director Mark Turner. “Technically, we could go on but we are extremely conscious of not putting anyone at risk needlessly. That’s why we’re moving exclusively to online-only concerts for now.”
Since September, the SSO has played live at St. John’s Cathedral to a limited number of season ticket holders. Those who didn’t have in-person tickets eagerly joined in for the live streamed shows, paving the way of performance for many arts organizations. But, with news that the number of cases in our province is rising, the orchestra has decided to be proactive and ask the community to enjoy the performance from the safety of home.
“For now, this is the safest way for us to deliver the quality performances our audience has come to know and love.”
“We want to reassure our audience that our ultimate goal is to return to having a live audience in the concert hall,” says Turner. “For now, this is the safest way for us to deliver the quality performances our audience has come to know and love.”
Turner says the SSO needs to mitigate the risk in the room. The orchestra’s ultimate goal is to continue bringing music safely to its audience. (Heather Fritz)
The SSO’s next stop on its musical journey around the world is A Visit to Vienna. The city became the crown jewel of the classical music world by celebrating the talents of superstars like Hadyn and Brahms and Martines. The last composer on that list you may not be familiar with. Marianna Martines who is one of the most influential female composers in history but her work was silenced after her death. The SSO will perform the Canadian premiere of Maritnes Sinfonia in C Major.
COVID-19 has opened up a few opportunities for the orchestra, among them bringing international performers to our city. Oleksa Mycyk performs with the Chicago Symphony but decided to move back to Saskatoon when the pandemic hit to be with family. He’ll wow the audience with Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major. The performances guest conductor, Shah Sadikov has also called Saskatoon home for the past few months. Sadikov has performed all over the world both as a violinist and conductor most recently as maestro of the Hays Symphony Orchestra in Kansas.
Although things are in flux around it, the SSO wants to remain a source of joy for its audience.
“What we didn’t count on is how our performances could create a different sense of community through our live stream and online events,” says Turner. “We’ll continue to be there for people and all of this has created a new blueprint of where we can go in the future.”