Con Spirito: Inside the SSO

In This Issue
A Celtic Celebration with Dan Stacey
Grand Ballrooms and Opera Houses
Brian & Annette Macdonald
Guest conductor: Nigel Evans
Soloists Clodagh Earls and Mark Gardner
Katharine Rajczak, new board member
Report from the president

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Berthold Carrière

Barbara Young 

Music Directors




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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Mark your calendar:  


A Celtic Celebration with 
Dan Stacey

Saturday, Jan. 25

Knox Church

7:30 p.m. 


Conducted by
Barbara Young 


With the Stratford Police Pipes & Drums


Volunteers needed to help with SSO programs

For information, contact the SSO office.  
Visit the SSO Facebook page
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SSO sponsors 

Trillium logo

Anne Hathaway logo



Vienna Opera House
La Scala

Annette and Brian Macdonald


Annette and Brian Macdonald

share their  

Grand Ballrooms
Opera Houses


The Stratford Symphony Orchestra will take its audience on a panoramic symphonic and visual tour of some of the world's best-loved music and most famous concert halls this Saturday evening, Nov. 16, at Knox Presbyterian Church.


As the orchestra, conducted by Nigel Evans, performs the music of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Bizet, Smetana, Mascagni and Strauss, two icons of the world of dance, Brian and Annette (av Paul) Macdonald, will narrate a visual excursion to such venues as the Paris Opera House, La Scala, Vienna State Opera House, Royal Swedish Opera, Les Grands Ballet Canadien and others as their images are projected on a large screen.


Guest soloists will be soprano Clodagh Earls and baritone Mark Gardner. The audio-visual presentation will be produced by 318 Productions. View the entire program.


The concert begins at 7:30 this Saturday, Nov. 16. Knox Church is located at Ontario and Waterloo streets in Stratford. Tickets ($35 for adults, $20 for students) are available at Fanfare Books, Blowes Stationery and Downie Street Bakehouse in Stratford and Lyric Flowers in St. Marys, as well as online and at the door. For additional information contact Sharon McDonald, SSO office (519-271-0990).



Annette (av Paul) and Brian Macdonald


Internationally renowned as a choreographer and director of ballet, opera and musical theatre, Brian Macdonald was recently honoured by the Stratford Festival with a bronze star to be embedded in a Stratford sidewalk. He spent 16 seasons at the Festival, directing 19 productions including Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.


One of the original dancers of the National Ballet of Canada, Mr. Macdonald subsequently had a long career as both choreographer and director with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, New York City Opera, The Royal Swedish Opera and Ballet, The Washington Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Paris Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival. He recently received the Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.


Annette (av Paul) Macdonald had an international career as prima ballerina. She was a leading ballerina of the Royal Swedish Ballet, then principal dancer of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.


She is the founding artistic director of Ballet British Columbia in Vancouver, and dedicated four decades to the Summer Dance Program at the Banff Centre, as teacher and coach, and subsequently as its director. She is a guest instructor at the Stratford Festival and the Festival's Birmingham Conservatory.
Evans, Nigel
Nigel Evans


Guest conductor: Nigel Evans NigelEvans

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.

Soloists: Clodagh Earls and Mark Gardner
Clodagh Earls
A rising star on the North American operatic and concert scene, soprano Clodagh Earls has performed in various musical theatre, opera and scene productions throughout Canada and in Europe. Most recently she was Gianetta in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers with the COSI (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy) Connection in London, Ontario.


This month and next she will be soloist with the Oakville Symphony Orchestra. This past spring and summer she sang the role of Papagena and
understudied the role of Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at Opera on the Avalon, St. John's, Newfoundland. Ms. Earls also performed as Emilia in the Canadian premiere of Andrew Ager's The Wings of the Dove in Toronto in May.

Ms. Earls holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Music: Voice Performance from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. She is currently mentored by Canadian soprano Frédérique Vézina and Dr. Cynthia Hoffmann of The Juilliard School.

Garner, Mark
Mark Gardner

SSO concertgoers will remember Mark Gardner's rich baritone voice as Don Giovanni in selections from the opera, performed this past April by the SSO under the baton of Judith Yan. Previously, he had received critical acclaim for his performance in the title role in Opera Kitchener's production of Don Giovanni.

Mr. Gardner was soloist in a performance of Fauré's Requiem with the Stratford Concert Choir in May. His debut recording of the well-loved duet "Au fond du temple Saint" from The Pearl Fishers with tenor Emilio Fina was released in June under the Sony Music label. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, most recently as the Grand Prize winner in the National Federation of Music Clubs Male Division.

He holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Wayne State University and a Master's of Music from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

Katharine Rajczak

New SSO board member:
Katharine Rajczak

Katharine Rajczak has joined the SSO board of directors. Katharine moved to Stratford from Toronto in 2004 and practices law in Stratford and Toronto, with a concentration in family and estates litigation, and real estate. She also operates Next Stage Conflict Resolution in Stratford, which provides alternative dispute resolution services.

Prior to practicing law, Katharine worked with a number of community organizations. She was founding director of Foodshare Toronto, served as executive director of Second Harvest and was principal in a public relations firm. She also spent five years as a professional actor and narrator.


Katharine  says she is very pleased to have been asked to be on the SSO board and looks forward to helping with marketing and fundraising.  "What a privilege for a community  of this size to have a professional orchestra right here in our midst!  Having been a regular attendee for several years now,  I am  so impressed with the quality and variety of the  concerts. I will be working hard to ensure that  more people know about the orchestra and become regular attendees!"

Howard, Nigel
Nigel Howard



Report from the president 

SSO finances are in "good order," president Nigel Howard said in his report to the membership at the annual general meeting October 27.


The report, read by vice-president Jean Hewitt in Nigel's absence, called attention to a two-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, enabling the SSO to set up a new office, hire an office administrator and "begin community outreach with children." The Orchestra also received an Ontario Arts Council grant of $7,500 to support audience development in the current season.


At the same time, Nigel reported, the SSO faces challenges: generating revenue to replace the items funded by the Trillium grant when it expires, hiring "in the near future" a fulltime music director and conductor, and building part-time paid staff.


Nigel will continue as president for another year and two other officers, vice-president Jean Hewitt and treasurer Ed Lee will continue as well.  


Read the entire report.

"A Musical Afternoon" raises $1,750 

A Sunday afternoon concert ("A Musical Afternoon") at the Grand Bend area home of Denis Shackel and Mary Lynn Fluter raised more than $1,750 for the Stratford Symphony.


The musicians included board member David Murray (piano), symphony members Liesel Deppe (flute), Bruce Skelton (violin) and Jack Winn (double bass), and pianist Michel Allard.

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George Pearson / Editor, Con Spirito