#MusicMonday Symphony a Listener's Guide


Recently I (Melissa) was asked to give the pre-concert chat for the next Saskatoon Symphony performance. So I pulled out Kevin's copy of The Symphony: A Listener's Guide by Michael Steinberg. This book is a collection of Michael Steinberg's program notes from years of writing for the San Francisco and Boston Symphonies. There are two additional books like this one on choral works and concertos respectively (I'm also using the concerto edition for this talk). This is an awesome springboard to use as a starting off research. 

Musicians in Saskatchewan can borrow it from the Saskatoon Public Library here

University of Windsor Alumni Concert

Melissa is a graduate of the University of Windsor and recently they have moved to a refurbished building for the Creative Arts. On Saturday April 7th 2018 at 7:30 pm we will perform fellow alumna Shelley Marwood's work Dialogues at the University of Windsor School for Creative Arts.


Dialogues is a work we commissioned and premiered in May 2017 and we are excited to perform it again for a new audience.

Check out the program notes:

In this increasingly digital world, people often lament the decline of human interactions, and fear that we as a society are losing our face-to-face communication skills. They may have a point, but I also believe that these communication skills vary greatly from person to person, and this does not necessarily have anything to do with the rise of digital communications. I perceived that this idea presented an interesting narrative for a piece. Each movement portrays my interpretation of several different ways in which people communicate with each other.

In Negotiation, a healthy, back-and-forth dialogue is portrayed in which each instrument listens and complements the other; Oblivious presents a scenario where one person is talking but the other isn’t listening (a breakfast table and newspaper could perhaps be imagined); Gaslighting illustrates the chilling situation where one person attempts to change the other’s reality and make them question their own sanity; in Confrontation we observe an argument where neither person is truly listening to the other, rather each is insistent on making their point heard; Bantering is a somewhat off-kilter, playful mixture of silly sounds and 'jokes'; Let me speak! conveys the irritating situation where one person constantly interrupts the other’s story; and finally in Smitten we observe a pair that is fully in sync with one another, complementing and listening respectfully with love and affection.

#MusicMonday Greg Danner and Singing Wood


American composer Greg Danner is professor of music at Tennessee Technological University. He studied at universities such as Southeast Missouri State University, Eastman School of Music, and Washington University. He has been awarded numerous prizes for composition and many notable commissions for bands and chamber ensembles. He is also an active horn player.

Danner wrote the piece Singing Wood: Interpretations on Four Woodcut Prints that we will be performing in our upcoming concerts. Published in 2005 the piece has catchy melodies and equal parts for both clarinet and marimba. The first movmement is based on the work Lake Louise by Canadian artist Walter J. Phillips. The second movement is based on the work by American artist Gustave Baumann. The music of the second movement is lyrical and flowing with a slow cadenza for the clarinet near the end.  The third movement Willows and the Moon has strong jazz influences and employs a very intimate section with very soft dynamics that draw the audience in. The music is based on the Willows and the Moon by Arthur Wesley Dow which can be viewed on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco website. The last movement Sierra Skyscrapers was inspired by the woodcut of the same name by Frances Hammel Gearhart and is in reference to the beautiful colours found in this work. (also avaialble to view on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ). For us the last movement has melodies reminiscent of the Aaron Copland. 

On Naxos there are a number of recordings of Greg Danner available but I've chosen to focus on the set of band music. Check out volume 1 Walls of Zion available on Naxos.

#MusicMonday John Burke


For the next few #MusicMonday Posts I'll be sharing some more information about the composers of pieces we are currently working on for our next set of concerts. I will start with John Burke the composer of Stealth for bass clarinet and marimba. As I mentioned before Stealth was commissioned for Lori Freedman and Sal Ferreras and if you would like more information on them check out the post from February 19. 

John Burke is an Ontario composer who studied at McGill University, McMaster University, as well as in France. He has taught at McGill, MacMaster as well as University of Victoria and has been awarded numerous commissions. For more details on his biography check out his biography on the Canadian Music Centre website. 

Check out Remember Your Power, a recording of pieces by John Burke through Naxos.

Woodcuts Concert in Saskatoon!


Woodcuts: Music for Clarinet/Bass Clarinet and Marimba

Wednesday May 16th, 2018 7:30pm
St. Andrew's Church 436 Spadina Cres East Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Come listen to contemporary selections for marimba and clarinet/bass clarinet. General Admission $10

Stealth for Bass Clarinet and Marimba was commissioned from John Burke for Canadian performers Sal Ferreras and Lori Freedman. It incorporates complicated rhythms, extended range and flutter tongue techniques. 

Gregg Koyle's Kumbengo refers to an interlocking pattern found in some West African musics. At first the parts are in a kind of imitative exchange then have their own roles within the work. 

Singing Wood: Interpretations on Four Woodcut Prints by Greg Danner is the inspiration for the title of this concert. The movements include: I Lake Louise, II Singing Wood, III Willows and the Moon and IV Sierra Skyscrapers. 

More Descriptions to follow!

Clarinet Class: Altissimo Edition

On Sunday March 18th at 2:00 Melissa will lead a clarinet class focusing on playing in the altissimo register (sometimes called the extreme register, to the extreme!). At the Saskatoon Symphony Rehearsal Space 408 20th street West in Saskatoon. 

Get ready to soar into the stratosphere! In this class we will squeak, squawk and explore the notes beyond C above the treble staff in a comfortable environment. Everyone welcome, including bass clarinets (you can play high notes too!). 

Suggested donation $10 but if that's not going to work for you come anyway.


#MusicMonday Mozart


If you're looking for some more traditional music to listen to, you can't go wrong with the Mozart Concerti. The Mozart Clarinet Concerto has been on every orchestral audition I have ever taken and with good reason. As a player you have to make it sound easy, it's not. The piece is very transparent and has a lot of pit falls. 

Sabine Meyer is one of my clarinet heros (I have several) and if you haven't listened to her before this is an excellent place to start. 

This copy I brought home from the Saskatoon Public Library but I'm sure you can find a copy at your local library as well.

#MusicMonday Lori Freedman and Sal Ferreras

Kevin and I have a number of pieces in the works including Stealth by Canadian Composer John Burke. This piece is for bass clarinet and marimba and was commissioned in 1991 by Sal Ferreras and Lori Freedman. I had heard about Lori Freedman but before now had not done any real research. I'm sorry I waited this long. Lori Freedman is a powerhouse in the new music scene, especially when it comes to big clarinets such as bass and contra bass clarinets.

Kevin knew about Sal Ferreras before now but I didn't. He is an educator, performer, blogger and public speaker. He has performed on many recordings including recordings with the CBC Radio Orchestra. 

Please check out their videos, websites and blogs to find out more you will not be disappointed!