Con Spirito: Inside the SSO

January 2013
In This Issue
Dinner option added to Celtic concert
Concert Program
About Rant Maggie Rant
Guest conductor Nigel Evans
Conductor's Notes
Robbie Burns Dinner
SSO has new office administrator
Greetings and thanks from SSO board
Note from Jean Hewitt

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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  

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Up next:  

'Late-Romantic Masters' Mar. 2


Led by guest conductor Daniel Warren, the SSO will perform selections by Edvard Grieg, Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner on Saturday, Mar. 2, at 7:30. The Stratford Concert Choir will be guest artists. 


 Volunteer opportunities abound in the SSO   

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

SSO's Celtic concert adds Robbie Burns dinner, brings back popular Rant Maggie Rant

Next Saturday's (Jan. 19) Celtic celebration featuring the SSO and Rant Maggie Rant (see Rant Maggie Rant, below) will add an enticing option: A Robbie Burns dinner prior to the concert at Knox Presbyterian Church, starting off at 5:30 with the piping in of the haggis. A $60 ticket includes the concert and the dinner, as well as a contribution to the SSO (with tax receipt), and entitles the holder to reserved upfront seating for the concert. Only 60 dinner tickets will be sold. (See Robbie Burns Dinner, below.)  


The concert, which begins at 7:30, will again be an eclectic mix (see Conductor's Notes below) showcasing the symphonic breadth of the SSO, with guest conductor Nigel Evans, and Rant Maggie Rant's high-energy fusion of traditional Celtic music with world music influences. The crowd-pleasing Stratford Police Pipes and Drums will also be featured.


Concert-only tickets are available at Fanfare Books in Stratford and Stewart Books in St. Marys, as well as online. Tickets for concert only or the dinner/concert combination can be purchased by phoning the SSO office (519-271-0990) or sending us an email note. Deadline for dinner/concert ticket purchase is Thursday, Jan. 17. Tickets ordered from the SSO office will be delivered to ticket buyers. 

                          Concert Program

Irish Rhapsody #1        Charles Villiers Stanford              Orchestra


The Lea Rig                 Folk song         Orchestra/Rant Maggie Rant  


Solo set                                                                Rant Maggie Rant 


A Winter's Flower       Kevin Lau     Orchestra and Rant Maggie Rant    




Music from Lord           Ronan Hardiman                          Orchestra  

of the Dance

The Water Is Wide        Folk song         Orchestra/Rant Maggie Rant    


Solo set                                                                Rant Maggie Rant    


Scottish Dances            Hamish MacCunn                         Orchestra  

op. 28     

PLUS: The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums



The SSO is hosting a reception in the Knox Church banquet hall following the concert. Cash bar and food  -- cheese, veggies, dip and more. Food is locally sourced, including from the Slow Food Market, and donations are gratefully accepted.  


Silent auction will remain open for the the first half hour of the reception. 


Rant Maggie Rant

Rant Maggie Rant charmed and energized the capacity crowd at last year's SSO Celtic concert. The group returns with a repertoire that combines contemporary compositions with traditional tunes, often mixing them together with their collective influences to deliver an exotic blend of new and old, with contagious energy. The ensemble moves effortlessly from Irish jigs to Galician munieras and Breton an dros, driving them with exotic Latin and African rhythms, syncopated hand-percussion, blues/rock guitar backdrops, revved up tempos, surprising time changes, and unique rhythmic attacks. They'll deliver a beautiful traditional ballad, chase it up with a blues-infused Appalachian-style groove and end with a killer jig or reel. 


RMR showcases the talents of Lindsay Schindler (fiddle, background vocals), Glen Dias (lead vocals, recorders, percussion) and Barry James Payne (guitars, harmonica, background vocals), with special guests Rob Larose (percussion - drum kit, cajon, djembe, dumbek, congas, background vocals), Dave Nuttall (Irish whistles and wind instruments) and Steve Clarke (electric and upright bass).



Guest conductor: Nigel Evans  

Evans, Nigel
Nigel Evans


Nigel Evans has appeared as guest conductor with the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, Clarion Orchestra, Brassroots brass ensemble, Wilfred Laurier University Wind Ensemble, the Wellington Winds and as a faculty member of the Kincardine Summer Music Festival. He also served as conductor of the Stratford Concert Band. He lives in London (Ont.) and is head of music at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.


He began his musical career with nine years service in the British Army, finishing as co-principal horn of the Royal Artillery Band and Orchestra. He performed at many state and ceremonial occasions, including for Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace. As a French horn player he has worked professionally with many ensembles including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra London, Concert Players Orchestra and Brassroots brass ensemble.


Conductor's Notes

Nigel Evans

Our January concert will feature three Celtic 'flavoured' works for orchestra that will probably be new to many of our audience members. Also on this concert will be several arrangements for orchestra and pipes and, of course, collaborations with our special guests Rant Maggie Rant.


Charles Villiers Stanford is the tartan (or more correctly, saffron) thread that holds three of tonight's orchestral offerings together. His name may be unfamiliar to audiences in Canada but he is widely recognized as Ireland's foremost composer. He created many fine instrumental and choral works  including Irish Rhapsody Number One. This piece features a beautiful treatment of Danny Boy and shows Stanford at his best with more than a hint in the music of one of his idols, Johannes Brahms. Fellow Irishman and music critic George Bernard Shaw praised this work as he enjoyed "Stanford the Celt" and abominated "Stanford the Professor," who reined in the emotions of the Celt.


Percy Grainger used two of the folk songs that Stanford collected in the Complete Petrie Collection of Irish Music in his delightful work for orchestra, Molly on the Shore. It is fitting that Grainger chose to add winds and percussion to this energetic dance, written originally for string orchestra, as he is widely known and loved as one of the seminal composers for the wind ensemble. This piece was written in 1907 and was dedicated to the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg with whom Grainger maintained a very close friendship over the years.


How could anyone named Hamish MacCunn compose anything but Scottish music?


Hamish McCunn MacCunn was a pupil of Stanford's at the Royal College of Music and is most famous for his overture Land of the Mountain and the Flood. His set of Six Scottish Dances was originally written for piano but translates well into the orchestral medium. Each dance paints a wonderful picture of what it might have been like to attend a party and dance in the grand ballroom at one of the great Scottish castles during the last century.


Completely unrelated to Stanford (but a lot of fun nonetheless) is the orchestra's final selection, music from Lord of the Dance. Originally conceived in 1994, Michael Flatley's Riverdance (with music by Bill Whelan and Donal Lunny) is an amazing dance and music spectacular which sparked a renewed interest in Irish dancing. The 'spin-off' production Lord of the Dance contains music with the same infectious rhythmic and melodic interest (as well as giving our violin and woodwind sections a thorough workout for their fingers!).


We hope you enjoy 'A Celtic Rant' 2012!


Dance as if no one were watching 
Sing as if no one were listening 
And Live every day 
As if it were your last.
Irish Blessing




                    Robbie Burns Dinner

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the dinner begins at 5:30 in the Knox Presbyterian Church banquet hall. Traditional Robbie Burns speeches will start things off, followed by the piping in of the haggis. SSO associate concertmaster Andrea Barstad will play Celtic tunes on her fiddle during dinner.


The buffet menu of locally sourced food will include salads, Scottish buns, beef, roasted vegetables including potatoes and turnips ("tatties and neeps"), Celtic toffee pudding, shortbread, red wine, coffee and tea. The meal will be catered by Northwestern Secondary School's Screaming Avocado group.


A cash bar will serve Scotch and Scottish beer, as well as wine.


The silent auction will feature a Stratford tartan blanket donated by the Scottish Shop. The blue, gold, green, white and red Stratford tartan, approved by the Scottish Tartan Authority, was unveiled to much pomp and ceremony on Heritage Weekend last year. Anyone can donate items (Celtic books, CDs, whatever) for the auction. Phone the SSO office (519-271-0990) to arrange for pickup.


Tickets for the dinner/concert ($60) can be purchased by phoning the SSO office (519-271-0990) or by email. Your tickets will be delivered to your home at a time convenient for you. The SSO will issue you a tax receipt for $30.

SSO welcomes Sharon McDonald 
as office administrator 

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra is pleased to welcome Sharon McDonald as its office administrator. The SSO was able to create the part-time position through a two-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation announced in November.


Sharon has spent her career in the management of arts and not-for-profit organizations. Most recently, she was director of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. While in Toronto, she volunteered for the internationally renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for 14 years, and the early music ensemble, The Toronto Consort, for 10 years.

With a lifelong passion for music, she was happy to discover the Stratford Symphony Orchestra when she and her husband, Martin, moved to Stratford three years ago. In fact, she hasn't missed a performance since she attended her first concert here!


"I look forward to working with the SSO, its volunteers, sponsors and patrons as it continues to grow, bringing outstanding music to the people of Stratford and beyond," she says. Sharon will be working in the new SSO office in the United Way building at 32 Erie Street. The SSO is grateful to the Trillium Foundation for its support in funding this position.  



                                Happy New Year!


    On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to all those who supported the Festive Night fundraising event December 21 at the Falstaff Family Centre.  We await convener Jean Hewitt's report to determine the financial success of the event, but the beautiful hall at the Falstaff Family Centre was certainly full to the brim with an appreciative audience of enthusiastic carol singers!  We are grateful to Loreena McKennitt and the staff at the Centre for providing the perfect venue for this event.


Thanks to John Lederman for designing the event poster and to Marc Bauer-Maison for allowing us to use his beautiful art.  Thanks also to the members of the Rotary Club who distributed the posters around town.  George Pearson's Con Spirito and Diane Pecor's e-blast notices provided timely information to our patrons about the event.    


Bert Carrire and Barbara Young, our music directors, put together a wonderful concert, with just the right blend of professional work from some extraordinary (local) talent and beautiful carol singing from a very musical crowd!  Thank you to performers Sadie Palach, Teddy Payne, Lucinda Jones, Patricia Collins, Aggie Elliot, and our own Bert!  We were also grateful for the support from our SSO musicians: Jack Winn, Deborah Mawdsley, Dodie Layton, Moe Jenner and past board chair David Murray. The stage management was handled ably by David Spence.  


Front-of-house volunteers were:

Set-up:  Jane Kirkpatrick, Maggie Luxford, Randi Patterson, Bonnie Richardson, Jean Hewitt and Will Taylor

Door/ticket sales:  Sharon McDonald, Vicky Sheepers and Janis Gougeon

Sales table:  Val Hubert, Maggie Luxford, Lucinda Morrison

Bar:  J.D.Sterne, Will Taylor and Chuc Cauchi

Kitchen:  Annamarie Murray, Rejeanne Groulx, Jean Hewitt

Food:  Jean Hewitt, Annamarie Murray, Rejeanne Groulx, Randi Patterson, Barbara Young, York Street Kitchen, Jennifer Lewington, Chris and Jim St. Lawrence.

Clean-up:  James and Lori Colbeck and family, Bonnie Richardson, Annamarie Murray, Rejeanne Groulx, Chuc Cauchi, Val Hubert, Jean Hewitt and Will Taylor.   


Thank you to everyone who made this wonderful event possible!


We will be looking for an energetic group of volunteers to support the upcoming concert at Knox Church, A Celtic Rant on Saturday, January 19.  

In the meantime, check out What's Up, Stratford, hosted by Peter Maranger, for an interview with Music Director, Bert Carriere.  This will be running throughout January on Rogers cable channel 20.

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!



Bonnie Richardson,

Secretary, Board of Directors,

Stratford Symphony Orchestra.

Note from Christmas Carol Party convenor Jean Hewitt

As the convener of our first Christmas Carol Party/SSO Fundraiser at Falstaff , I want to thank everyone who came out to work and/or arrived with baking for this event.  Judging by audience comments, Barbara Young's idea turned into a tremendous success.  I know Barbara has thanked the performers, musicians and David Spence (who managed the sound setup).  Barbara also thanked you, the volunteers behind the scenes, but some of you may not have heard because you were too busy doing your assigned job.


I will be writing a report on this event in the coming days and would appreciate your input as to what we could improve.  This may become an annual event and while it is fresh in your mind, I'd like any ideas you may have.

Well Done & Happy Holidays,

Jean Hewitt


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George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito