British flag and fireworks 

All things Brit, and more . . .


Pomp and Circumstance:

Last Night of the Proms 

Friday, May 13, 7:30 p.m.  

Central United Church

194 Avondale Ave., Stratford 

SSO orchestra banner
Con spirito: Inside the SSO
THIS MONTH: Pomp and Circumstance
May  2011
In This Issue
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Last Night of the Proms
Guest conductor: Michael Purves-Smith
About The Proms
Pitre and Friends a hit
Three young Stratford musicians
SSO, music director part company

SSO logo

Warm greetings from the Stratford Symphony Orchestra. Con Spirito enables us to carry on a conversation with music lovers in the Stratford community and beyond. Please feel free to send us an email  

with your thoughts or comments.



Send this edition of Con Spirito to a friend.

Just click  








The SSO is extremely grateful to

Kimberley Payne of the Stratford Chef School, and Clinton Hughes and Ross Hodgson of Hughson Hall, for their generous support of the splendid reception following the Louise Pitre cabaret show  

May 2.





Volunteer opportunities abound in the SSO 

All sorts of talents are needed in support roles for the SSO. Interested? Send us an  email today.











May 13 concert


Last Night of the Proms  

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra's seventh concert of the season, Pomp and Circumstance: Last Night of the Proms, will feature a parade of British classics and patriotic songs, with the audience invited to sing along. Flag waving will be encouraged, and miniature flags will be on sale. 


The concert, to be held Friday, May 13, at 7:30 in Central United Church, will also feature cellist Thomas Beard, winner of the Symphony's 2010 Emerging Artists Concerto Competition.


Rule Britannia, Pomp and Circumstance and Jerusalem are on the program, as is music from Pineapple Poll, a Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired comic ballet arranged by British conductor Charles Mackerras. Pomp and Circumstance will be conducted by David Murray, who won that opportunity in a draw held last season. By coincidence, Murray is chair of the Stratford Symphony board.


Thomas Beard will perform Camille Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1, considered by many to be the grandest of all cello concertos. Beard, 20, from Wingham, Ontario, was selected to play in the National Youth Orchestra in 2009 and 2010. He is a student at Wilfrid Laurier University. 


Actor Richard Fitzpatrick will read four poems (by Amy Lowell, Stephen Vincent Benet, Joseph de Roche and theodore Roethke), each with a music background  composed by Chris Meyer in a set titled Poetry and Proms. "A distinct sound, feeling and musical style is conjured up for each poem, alternately amorous, bellicose, dream-like and possibly even goofy," says Chris.


Guest conductor for this concert is Michael Purves-Smith. He is co-founder of the Nota Bene Period Orchestra and was music director of the Wellington Winds for 26 years. He recently retired from the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University. (See Guest conductor, below.)  


Purchase tickets online or at Fanfare Books or Anything Grows. 

Michael P-S

Guest conductor: Michael Purves-Smith

Michael Purves-Smith is a conductor of wide and varied experience. He recently retired from the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he taught conducting and orchestration, and as music director of the Wellington Winds. He founded the Elora Festival; the orchestra, wind ensemble and baroque ensembles at WLU; and the Central Ontario Band Workshop.  He was music director of the Wellington Winds for 26 years. He is currently interim conductor of the Stratford Concert Band. Over his career he has conducted orchestras, choirs, bands, oratorios and operas, including his own opera, Le Chien de Watteau.

A firm believer that conductors should continue to perform, he has throughout his career played oboe, English horn, baroque oboe, recorder and keyboards in many groups, including time as principal oboe of the Niagara Symphony and the Xalapa Symphony in Mexico. He continues today as principal oboe and English horn with the Wellington Winds and, recently, the Guelph Symphony. Michael is also a noted and prolific composer and arranger.

British flag and fireworks

About The Proms

Described by its promoters as "The World's Greatest Classical Music Festival," The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events, mostly taking place at The Royal Albert Hall in London. On the final day of the season, Last Night of the Proms, the events spread across the United Kingdom, this year including Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The music on this evening is traditionally in a lighter vein, with popular classics and a series of British patriotic pieces.


Louise Pitre

Pitre and Friends wow

election night audience

At the May 2 benefit concert for the Stratford Symphony Orchestra, acclaimed singer-actress Louise Pitre led a talented lineup of veterans -- and newcomers -- for a laughter-filled evening of cabaret-style music.


From the moment she opened with the Gilles Vigneault classic, Mons Pays, Pitre and her accompanist Diane Leah made the audience feel as if they had front-row seats at a very special nightclub. Pitre, nominated for a Tony award for her Broadway debut in Mamma Mia!, sang several selections from her soon-to-be-released album La Vie en Rouge, including the Edith Piaf signature lament, Ne me quitte pas.


In keeping with the light-hearted tone of the evening, she let her audience in on the back story to some of the music sung in French. She reminded her listeners that My Way, the Frank Sinatra standard with words penned by Paul Anka, started out as Comme d'habitude, with entirely different, and melancholy, lyrics.


With Stratford singer and pianist Kelly Walker as host for the evening, "Louise Pitre and Friends" also featured lyric tenor Mark DuBois. His version of Danny Boy made the old favourite sound fresh with anguish, again. But for O Sole Mio, he just had fun with the audience, coyly playing to the ladies as he held the high notes. Eric Neaves, a well-regarded young tenor on the London musical scene, opened his set with a warm rendition of Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers. 


Stratford pianist Sandra Mogensen, a touring professional and local teacher, had the inspired idea of inviting three Kiwanis music award winners, all from Stratford high schools, to round out the evening. (See Three young Stratford musicians share Pitre program, below.) Accompanied by Mogensen, Kirstie Carter sang her own version of Every Breath You Take while Thomas Murray sang Tell My Father from the musical Civil War. Mogensen also accompanied her daughter, Siobhan Stroobandt, who sang a jazzy My Funny Valentine.


Officially, May 2 was election night in Canada. But in Stratford, it was "Louise Pitre and Friends" who got all the votes.

--Jennifer Lewington



Three young Stratford musicians share Pitre program

Three prize-winning young musicians, all attending Stratford high schools, were on the same show with Broadway star Louise Pitre at the SSO benefit concert May 2.

"Crazy awesome," says Kirstie Carter, 16, at the chance to perform at the same event as Pitre, the Canadian singer and actress nominated for a Tony award for her performance in "Mama Mia" on Broadway.

Carter, a Grade 11 student at Stratford Central High School, is a pianist, songwriter, theatre performer and singer. Thomas Murray, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Michael's Catholic Secondary School. Singer Siobhan Stroobandt, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Northwestern High School.

Teacher and touring classical pianist Sandra Mogensen, who accompanied some of the performers, is mother of Stroobandt, a piano teacher to Carter and has known Murray for years.

"In each one of them, there is a focus and passion in their music," says Mogensen, who views her "mission" as an international performer and Stratford-based teacher to showcase young people with musical gifts.

Kirstie Carter



Kirstie Carter, a pianist since the age of six, landed her first singing role in Grade 7 for a school musical and started to write songs by the time she was 14. For the last three years, she has won first prize in the Stratford Kiwanis Music Festival song-writing competition.


A trombone player in her school's jazz band and a member of the choir, Carter is working on a CD with Michael Bannerman and other local artists to raise awareness of children's mental health issues. 

Thomas Murray

Thomas Murray


Thomas Murray, who comes from a musical family, landed his first theatre role in 2003 in Drayton Entertainment's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. For the next six years, He performed in a variety of musicals and dramas, most recently in Stratford Shakespeare Festival productions of Oliver and To Kill a Mockingbird.

He sings and also plays the drums, guitar and banjo. Coming off a recent win in the musical theatre category at Stratford Kiwanis, he is headed to the provincial finals this month. 



Siobhan Stroobandt


Siobhan Stroobandt, also a top Kiwanis competitor over the past few years, is going to Europe this summer with members of the Festival Youth Singers, part of the celebrated St. Marys Children's Choir, for a 10-day tour of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

A singer since the age of six, Stroobandt also plays saxophone in a jazz ensemble.  Her first taste of jazz came when she attended a Latvian vocal music camp several years ago and it is that genre that increasingly appeals to her. 


The three young performers are still figuring out their career options. But they all agree that, whatever their future professions, music will be part of their lives.


SSO, music director part company

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra and longtime music director Jerome David Summers have parted ways. SSO board president David Murray announced the separation in late April. Summers was a founder of the orchestra, originally known as the Stratford Civic Orchestra, in 2004.


"We regret this unfortunate event in the life of our orchestra," said Murray. "Our best wishes go with him, and we are grateful for his six years of artistic leadership. We are committed to putting the Stratford Symphony on a solid footing and, with the help and support of the musicians and the community, we will do just that."


The upcoming concert (May 13), Pomp and Circumstance: Last Night of the Proms, is the seventh of nine concerts in the 2010-2011 season. The final two concerts are A Classic Weekend (June 18) and Baroque and Beyond (July 9).  Guest conductors will step in to lead the orchestra in those concerts. Planning for the 2011-2012 season is now under way.


Contact Us

George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito