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Con spirito: Inside the SSO
September  2011
In This Issue
About Season Seven
What is on the Season Seven program?
Why are there fewer concerts this year?
How can I purchase tickets?
What is the SSO's artistic and management structure?
How will the orchestra rebuild its financial footing?
How can I show my support for the Strastford Symphony?

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SSO's Season Seven opens October 15

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra's seventh season is ready to roll!
It  will open Saturday, October 15, with a concert of chamber music composed by Antonin Dvořák and Josef Suk, followed in November by a gala concert of music from Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, conducted by Bert Carrière, longtime music director of the Stratford Festival. Four more concerts will follow in December, January, March and May. (See full concert details below.)


Details about the SSO concert season are unusually late in coming because of financial issues facing the orchestra and a change in leadership structure.


The SSO, like many North American orchestras, has accumulated substantial debt that it must address and eliminate without tapping current-year operating revenues. In August the board of directors began a series of fundraisers specifically to pay it down. At the same time, to build a solid base of operating funds, the orchestra is mounting a campaign to secure sponsors for its 2011-12 concerts and activities, as well as organizing a force of volunteers to help increase ticket sales, donations and sponsorships.


In the absence of a music director, an artistic committee now plans the concert agenda and the booking of venues, guest conductors and soloists. The committee, chaired by Andrew MacDonald, board member and the SSO's principal horn player, has taken extra measures to ensure that all programming costs fall within the limits imposed by the current financial restraints.

Questions & Answers

About the SSO and Season Seven   

What is on the Season Seven program?


An Evening Out in Old-World Prague  

Saturday, October 15, 2011, 7:30 p.m.

Location: Central United Church, Stratford


Conductor     Ben Bolt-Martin

Guest             Reader (Dvořák's letters)  Richard Fitzpatrick


Antonin Dvořák                      Serenade for Winds op. 44                                   

Josef Suk                                Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale 'St. Wenceslas'  

op. 35a          

Antonin Dvořák                      Serenade for Strings op. 22         



The Music of Gilbert and Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore in Concert

Saturday, November 12, 2011, 7:30 p.m.

Location: Central United Church, Stratford


Conductor                 Bert Carrière

Soloists to be announced

Festival Youth Singers

Arthur Sullivan                        H.M.S. Pinafore in concert


NOTE: Much more about the October and November concerts in the next edition of Con Spirito coming your way in early October.



Baroque Again: Bach, Handel and More 

Saturday, December 10, 2011, 7:30 p.m.

St. James' Anglican Church, Stratford


Conductor                 Daniel Warren

Organ                        Ian Sadler

Harpsichord              Marlin Nagtegaal

Flute                          Laurel Swinden


G.F. Handel                 Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon HWV 67

F. Manfredini              Concerto Grosso op. 3 No. 12
                                            'Per il santissimo natale' (For the holy birth)

G.F. Handel                 Organ concerto op. 7 No. 4 in d minor HWV 292           

G.F. Handel                 Organ concerto op. 4 No. 4 in F major HWV 309

J.S. Bach                     Orchestral Suite No. 2 in b minor BWV   



All Things Celtic 

Saturday, January 21, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

Knox Presbyterian Church, Stratford


Conductor     TBD

Rant Maggie Rant

Stratford Police Pipes & Drums


Program to include:

2 sets by guest artists                                               

F. Weatherly                O Danny Boy  

Chris Meyer                             Uncle's Jig / or new work  

Chris Meyer                             Farewell to Ireland (feature Laurel Swinden)

J. Foulds                      Keltic Suite - Selections

Christmas                    Celtic Medley (with dancers)

J. Horner arr. Chris Meyer     Braveheart End Credits

Solo set by Pipe Band                        

w/ Stratford Police Pipes & Drums

                                    Highland Cathedral

                                    Auld Lang Syne



Two Romantics: Schumann and Sibelius 

Saturday, March 3, 7:30 p.m.

Central United Church, Stratford


Conductor Martin Foster

Robert Schumann                   Symphony # 4 in d minor op.120                                                

Jean Sibelius                           Symphony No. 2 in D major op. 43



The Other Fifth 

Saturday, May 5, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

Central United Church, Stratford


Conductor Ron Royer

Clarinet   Kaye Royer

Jean Sibelius                           Finlandia op. 26                                                       

Ronald Royer                          Echoes for Clarinet and Orchestra                     

Pyotr Tchaikovsky                   Symphony #5  in e minor op.64                                        


Why are there fewer concerts this year?

The SSO artistic committee's mandate was to plan a season that would be artistically rewarding to audience and musicians alike, and, at the same time, one that the organization could afford. SSO musicians are paid for rehearsals and concerts, and administrative positions such as librarian and personnel manager are paid as well. A typical concert with full orchestra can easily cost $12,000; conductors, guest soloists, venue and other staging and publicity expense can take the total up to $17,000.


The artistic committee developed a plan that reduces the number of musicians required for some of the concerts and takes advantage of accomplished soloists within the SSO and the community. At the same time, the committee has engaged Berthold Carrière, longtime Stratford Festival music director, to produce and direct a gala concert featuring music from Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, with the expectation it will draw a large audience. (Mr. Carrière has graciously agreed to serve as Honorary Music Advisor to the Stratford Symphony.) The season also includes a December baroque concert and January Celtic concert, both of which have been popular in past years. Brisk ticket sales for all concerts -- season-ticket buyers will save the cost of one concert -- will help the SSO balance the budget.

How can I purchase tickets?

Click here and you will be able to order online individual or season tickets. (Your computer must be connected to a printer in order to print your tickets.) Tickets are also available at Fanfare Books and Anything Grows in Stratford, Stewart Books in St. Marys, Music in Sebringville and at the Perth County Welcome Centre in Shakespeare. Individual concert tickets are $35. A season ticket for all six performances is $175, saving buyers $35 and in effect giving them a free concert.


Season tickets will be available through October 15, the date of the season's first concert. If for any reason a performance is canceled, ticket buyers will receive a refund.

What is the SSO's artistic and administrative management structure?

We completed this past season with several distinguished guest conductors and will continue to invite guest conductors to lead the orchestra. When our financial footing becomes more secure, we will address the hiring of a music director. Music decisions are being managed by the Symphony's artistic committee, consisting of board members and musicians. It is chaired by Andrew MacDonald, a board member and principal horn player.


The part-time position of SSO executive director has been suspended because of financial constraints. The board of directors is assuming certain administrative responsibilities and an expanded corps of volunteers, along with board members, is handling office chores and developing strategies to increase ticket sales, donations and sponsorships.

How will the orchestra rebuild its financial footing?

Hard lessons have propelled us to take a tightly focused, two-prong approach: (1) address our debts with a series of fundraising activities and (2) systematically build a financial foundation that will sustain us year after year.


Fundraising activities: The board of directors began the fundraising activities with two events in August: a garden party, featuring baritone John Wilkinson (yes, our MPP) at the dairy farm of David and Annamarie Murray (David is board chair) and a lawn party, featuring ensemble music and operatic baritone James Westman, at the home of Jack and Mary Carnie (Mary is a board member). Both events were quite successful. These kinds of events will continue until the Symphony's debts are retired.


Financial foundation: With the help of our increasing corps of volunteers, we are developing strategies to increase ticket sales, gifts and donations. We will also build our base of sponsors in the business community and seek grants from various levels of government, arts organizations and other sources.

How can I show my support for the Stratford Symphony?

Buy a season ticket and urge your friends to do the same. Season ticket buyers will receive a $35 discount, the price of one concert. Be sure to buy your ticket by October 15. Order now.


Send a donation to Stratford Symphony Orchestra, PO Box 1067, Stratford, ON N5A 6W4. All donations, unless otherwise specified, will go toward this season's expenses; they will not be applied to the existing debt. As indicated above, the debt will be addressed through special fundraising projects. Questions? Send us an email to arrange.


Consider becoming a sponsor. Send us an email and we will schedule a visit with you to explain the range of sponsorship opportunities.


Volunteer to help with office, concert, promotional or fundraising activities. Send us an email and we'll get in touch with you.

Contact Us

George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito