Commemorating the Netherlands Tour and Liberation Day in a Different Way

Amsterdam thanks Canadians!

I was just a young man of 20 when I came to the Netherlands 30 years ago. I knew very little about the role Canadians played in liberating this tiny country during the Second World War, but it became overwhelmingly obvious during the May 1990 freedom celebrations in Amsterdam that there was a unique bond tying these two very different countries.

A bond between people is defined as a strong feeling of friendship, love, or shared beliefs and experiences that unites them. Canada shares a very special bond with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was forged when, in May 1945, Canadian troops freed the Dutch from Nazi occupation. That bond was made even stronger when Canada, along with its Allies, saved the Dutch population from starvation.

Today is May 5th 2020 and we are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Liberation of the Netherlands here in Amsterdam. In these sobering times of worldwide pandemic our celebrations are nothing like the ones that had been so carefully and lovingly planned. But, cancelled or not, when I look at my 21-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter, both born here in Amsterdam, I can’t help but think about the thousands of Canadian soldiers that gave their lives for freedom in Holland — many of them as old as my son today, or even younger.

Life can often take turns that are impossible to predict. How could I have ever imagined that I would become so connected to both the Netherlands and Canada? As a proud Dutch citizen for a quarter of a century now, I am so grateful to this small country that I used to associate with tulips and cheese, for giving me a new home and hope. It offered me a chance at a future and freedom that feels particularly precious today.

As Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra I am blessed to make music with a group of talented, highly motivated and passionate musicians in front of dedicated and caring audiences. I have forged many wonderful friendships in Winnipeg and have developed the deepest respect for the spirit of Canadian people.

I can’t tell you how saddened I am that our beautifully planned WSO tour of the Netherlands and Belgium had to be postponed and that we are not able to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Liberation all together.

Here in Amsterdam I live just a few blocks away from an eloquent and touching monument called “Amsterdam thanks its Canadians”. It was created by the Dutch artist Jan de Baat and was publicly unveiled May 5th, 1980. Today I would like to pay tribute to all Canadians who gave their lives in acts of selfless heroism fighting for the future that I am a part of today. These beautiful tulips are for them!

Moreover, on behalf of the entire Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – its musicians, administration, staff and all the board members – I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all our supporters, donors and sponsors for helping us envision and plan our first European tour on such a special occasion.

While we cannot commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Liberation today in person as we had planned, we will do so in 2022! Its profound importance remains the same. We will always remember on both sides of the Atlantic. We will always be grateful and free!

Daniel Raiskin, Music Director

Thank You From the Musicians of the WSO

May 5th marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, when General Charles Foulkes, commander of the 1st Canadian Corps, accepted the surrender of German forces. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 Tour to the Netherlands and Belgium was planned to commemorate this significant event and celebrate the bond that was forged between Canada and the Netherlands. It is with deep gratitude that the Musicians of the WSO dedicate this video to the many people, both here and abroad, who adopted a musician or contributed in any way toward this tour. Although our tour has been postponed, we look forward to honouring this historic moment in the future.

The Musicians of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra would like to thank Sean Philips from  clicksplashwow for producing and editing our project.

The Stones of Amsterdam Remember, We Remember

A poem by Di Brandt
Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the Netherlands Tour

The Stones of Amsterdam Remember, We Remember (PDF)

Di Brandt is a renowned and best-selling poet who served as Winnipeg’s inaugural Poet Laureate in 2018 and 2019. She teaches Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Winnipeg. Di Brandt grew up in a Plautdietsch-speaking traditionalist Mennonite colony in southern Manitoba, and left it at age 17. She has travelled widely and held numerous fellowships, writer residencies and teaching appointments across Canada and internationally. She considers Winnipeg her home.

“Thank you to Maestro Daniel Raiskin and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the invitation to contribute poetically to the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the Liberation of Holland by the Canadian Army near the end of the Second World War. Thank you to Canadian composer Matthew Whittall, in Finland, for lively productive conversations about this anniversary commemoration, and Canadians’ role in it; and thanks to Arnold Schalks of Rotterdam for help with the Dutch phrases in the piece. I’m honoured by this opportunity, and moved by the stories of courage and suffering of the people involved in these grave events, carefully passed down to us across the better part of a century. The Netherlands were the homeland of my people several centuries back, and this project also gave me a chance to reconnect with my ancestral heritage in a restorative way.”  -Di Brandt

A Message from Canadian-Finnish Composer Matthew Whittall

A Message from Canadian Tenor Adam Luther

A Message from Yuri Klaz, Winnipeg Singers


Musical Pairings

A Recipe for Great Music Making

For me, a symphony orchestra’s repertoire is like the menu of a great restaurant: full of tasty dishes, often from different parts of the world, prepared from exquisite ingredients. The process of creating a concert program is actually very similar to preparing a wonderful meal.

It all starts with deciding what style should dominate the musical menu. Will it be international “cuisine” or will it be concentrated on the flavours of just one country?  Italian, Spanish, Russian, German or maybe French? With the WSO’s repertoire, we try not to limit ourselves to one kind of style – after all, everyone has different tastes. Often, however, the ‘menu’ for an evening of music is dominated by the music of the selected country so we can maintain a certain mood. Perhaps it’s the fiery atmosphere of Spanish music or the colors of French Impressionism. This makes it easier for the listener.

Some of my colleagues plan the repertoire in such way that the large chunks of the concert season are dedicated to the music of only one country, region or certain style. Then, for two or three months they only perform the music of handful of composers. At the WSO I prefer to offer a wider range of musical emotions. I would not like to eat, for example, only Italian dishes for several months, even though I really love them. And although I love fine cuisine, once in a while, I want a big sausage or a good juicy hamburger!

When it comes time to choose our specific dishes, an overture usually plays the role of a starter—longer or shorter, depending on the appetite.

The first course is usually a work that features a specific instrument. This creates an exciting flavor profile, thanks to the three interacting parties on stage: soloist, orchestra and conductor. Choosing that solo instrument, whether it’s violin, piano, cello or maybe clarinet  – is like choosing the featured ingredient. Do I fancy meat, fish, game or maybe a vegetarian dish this time?

After a short break, we’re ready for the main course—a symphony, symphonic suite or a large-scale symphonic poem perhaps.

And finally, at the end of the “feast”, it’s time for dessert, which in a concert could be the encore.  Sometimes though, you’re so wonderfully full from the main course that a dessert might spoil the overall impression.  In this case we leave the listener with the excitement and emotions of what they’ve just heard and let them savor the moment.

In music, as in good cuisine, the smallest details and subtlest ingredients matter.

Symphonies, concertos, symphonic poems—they all consist of multiple parts, flavours and emotions. The conductor, like a chef, has the task of combining all these “ingredients” into one wonderful “dish”.  There must be a great deal of balance here. For example, when violins play a lyrical and gentle melody, the French horns or trombones cannot play too loud at the same time. They’ll overwhelm them.  After all, we don’t combine the subtle tastes of seafood with spicy cheeses or raw garlic and onions. It would destroy its delicacy.  A variety of herbs and spices in music translates to an array of dynamic shades and the right amount of accents and articulation. Without this, music would be colourless and boring.

Now, the finished dish must be plated in a way that entices the perspective diner. In music it’s all about the atmosphere. The concert hall, the acoustics, and even the lighting play an important roll. Most audience members ‘listen’ with their eyes. The level of the orchestra’s involvement and interaction with the conductor and each other goes hand in hand with the overall appearance of the dish.

Then there’s the ratio of audience members to performers to think about. The atmosphere in a concert when there is one musician on stage and a thousand audience members is very different from a concert with two hundred musicians on stage and two thousand listeners. It’s like having a meal in solitude compared to enjoying dinner in a busy café.

When we have a well-prepared concert program performed in appealing surroundings and an audience full of passionate music lovers, something truly magical happens—something that involves the presence of two sides: performers and listeners.

The importance of concert program fine-tuned to the tastes of the listeners is important, but it should not be overestimated. Since I’ve started working with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, I’ve put a lot of effort into cooking something that nourishes the body and the soul. When visiting a really good restaurant, you don’t have to check what’s on the menu beforehand – you know you will eat something really wonderful. I want concertgoers to feel the same way about the WSO! Great food and great music create wonderful emotions!

I invite you to join us in the kitchen and watch our modest cooking videos on the WSO Youtube channel and try the recipes below yourself as we explore the culinary world together!

Daniel Raiskin
Music Director, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Lamb rack and Fennel salad

Musical Pairing: Since especially the first dish is combining the flavors of both Mediterranean and Asian cuisine I thought that the story of Marco Polo in music would be a most fitting accompaniment. And the salad comes from the Venice region  – Marco Polo was born here and died in Venice after completing his many fascinating journeys to the Middle East, Mongolia and China.

Here is some music from the Netflix show’s original music composed by Peter Nashel, Eric V. Hachikian as well as the main titles theme by Daniele Luppi:

For those of you who are more adventurous – I suggest a fascinating take on Marco Polo’s journey by Tan Dun in his Concerto for Orchestra after his opera “Marco Polo”:

Notes from the Kitchen – Fried Polenta and Roasted Eggplant

Chicken ‘baton’ skewers, dried fruit & nut couscous with yogurt sauce


Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Like many arts organizations, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming concerts and events have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19. Currently the province of Manitoba is encouraging the cancellation of all events with more than 50 people.

The WSO is committed to the health and safety of everyone attending, performing in, or working at our concerts at the Centennial Concert Hall. We will continue to closely monitor the global response to the COVID-19 situation and are continuing to rely on evidence-based information published by the Government of Manitoba and the Government of Canada. For information on the Centennial Concert Hall COVID-19 updates and policies, click here.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, the WSO has made the difficult decision to cancel concerts scheduled until May 31, 2020.

The Netherlands Tour is also been tentatively rescheduled to May 2022.

WSO Concerts and events currently impacted:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert, scheduled to take place April 4 & 5, have now been rescheduled for September 25 & 26, 2020 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

*Tickets for Apr 4, 7:30 pm will be valid for the Sep 26, 7:30 pm concert.
Tickets for Apr 5, 2:00 pm will be valid for Sep 25, 7:30 pm concert.

The WSO Box Office will contact current ticket holders regarding the rescheduled dates.

Box Office update:

The WSO Box Office (555 Main Street) is currently closed for in-person orders and exchanges for the immediate future. Please email boxoffice@wso.mb.ca or leave a message at 204-949-3999 and one of our staff will contact you directly as we are working remotely to address your ticket and donation requests. 

Due to the high volume of requests, please be patient for a response as staff deal with this unprecedented situation.

There is no need to contact the Box Office immediately to exchange your tickets for cancelled performances immediately, as we will be honouring all exchanges and donations in the coming weeks.

Once dates for postponed concerts and events have been confirmed, Box Office staff will contact you by phone or email regarding your tickets.

The following options are available to ticket holders:

Ticket return options

If you have tickets for a WSO performance that has been cancelled due to COVID-19, please use this form to choose your ticket options. A WSO Box Office person will contact you to confirm your request (please note this may take 3 - 5 business days due to the current volume of requests).

Help the WSO stay strong

The health and economic impact of COVID-19 to the WSO is significant and your support today is more important than ever. As a non-profit arts organization, the WSO relies on the people we serve in our community. Each week your Symphony is closed has a profound impact on our ability to share symphonic music with you and our community.
Please consider the role music plays in your life and support the WSO with a donation of any amount today or return your tickets to cancelled concerts for a charitable tax receipt.


Netherlands Tour:

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the orchestra’s health and safety first and foremost in mind, the tour has been tentatively rescheduled to May 2022.

The WSO’s travel partner, Great Canadian Travel Co., will be in contact with individuals who planned on attending the tour with additional details shortly.

The Netherlands government recently banned any public gatherings of more than 100 people until June 1, 2020. The WSO is in communication with concert presenters and the halls in the Netherlands and Belgium regarding the rescheduled dates. As new information becomes available, we will communicate updates or changes.

Meet the Musician: Yuri Hooker

Ministry, shredded wheats, and Stan Rogers: this week we get to know the WSO’s principal cellist, Yuri Hooker!

WSO: Where are you from?
Yuri Hooker: I grew up in Calgary.

How long have you played in the WSO?
I started playing with the WSO in the fall of 1999. I served as Assistant Principal Cello. After our former principal (Arek Tesarczyk) left, I took the audition and moved over to the principal chair in 2004.

What’s your favourite thing about Winnipeg?
The down-to-Earth people.

What kind of music do you listen to when you aren’t at work?
Mostly Bach. But my kids and I also like singing Stan Rogers tunes while we’re driving around town. Sometimes I’ll listen to Renaissance choral music and, not surprisingly, orchestral and chamber music. I almost never listen to solo cello music, though!

What do you do in your free time?
What’s… “free time”? But seriously, I do have other interests. Most notably, Christian ministry. In fact, I was recently appointed Interim Associate Pastor at our church here in Winnipeg (Bethesda Church–on the corner of Grant and Cambridge). That position, which I’m super excited about, starts in February! But in case anyone is worried, I don’t have plans to abandon my post at the WSO!

Also, my son is a serious soccer player, and Michelle and I enjoy going to his games as well as keeping up with our newfound passion: watching the English Premier League! I also love vicariously exercising a long abandoned interest in visual art through my daughter, watching her work up storyboards and characters in her sketchbook (she is far more artistically talented than I ever was!).

Why do you think symphonic music is still relevant today?
So many reasons! Symphonic music is one of the truly great collective expressions of what it means to be human. It has evolved over hundreds of years to have the capacity to evoke the infinite shades of our experience.

On the practical level, as a local institution it elevates our individual and shared artistic horizons by providing us with a pool of top-flight musicians who enrich and inspire the rest of the musical community: from parents who take their kids to their weekly music lessons to adult amateur musicians who get together to play chamber music (perhaps being coached by someone from the orchestra!) for the pure joy of it, and everything in-between. Without a local professional orchestra, some of that activity would happen of course, but it would happen a lot less often, and at a much lower level of accomplishment.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming season?
The tour to the Netherlands (of course!).

What’s your go-to snack?
Hmmm… hard to pick just one… lately we’ve been eating a lot of Shredded Wheat with a generous dollop of jam on top! We even have a little song about it.

Meet the Musician – Jan Kocman

Golden flutes, gin and tonics, and orchestral experience abound! Get to know WSO principal flutist Jan Kocman in the latest edition of Meet the Musician.

WSO: How long have you been with the WSO?
Jan Kocman: I am celebrating my 46th year as Principal Flutist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. I started in September of 1974; Piero Gamba was the Music Director. Two other present members of the WSO also started that year – Karen and Dick Bauch. I am now the longest serving Principal musician in the history of the orchestra.


Who or what inspired you to become a musician?
My father was a wonderful influence in my early years as he performed in an excellent community orchestra, taught flute and oboe privately, and in general simply loved music. Later, my university teacher James Pellerite brought a level of art and discipline to music performance that was very inspiring. Early in my life, I first attended Chicago Symphony concerts with Fritz Reiner conducting in the late 1950’s. Going to the Chicago Orchestra Hall was a thrilling experience. We would sit high up in the ‘nose bleed area’ and look down at that exceptional stage with all those great musicians and hear the most fantastic concerts. This was inspiring. Also, during my graduate studies at Indiana University I completed course work in musicology with Walter Kaufmann, the first Music Director of the WSO. I thought he was a wonderful musician and extremely knowledgeable about so many facets of music history and style. It was a sincere pleasure to know him.


What’s your go-to-snack?
Gin and tonic (Tanqueray Rangpur or Ungava.) Then again, there is always a good bourbon on ice!

For food snacks, ever since I was six years old, I have always loved crunchy peanut butter. Lately I have been enjoying Adams Dark Roast Crunchy.


Tell us about your flute.

My flute was commissioned by Detroit industrialist and amateur flutist Adolf Lichter. He was an interesting individual who wanted the ‘finest instrument on the market’. He ordered a 14kt all gold flute, which was created by the Boston flute maker Verne Q. Powell. Lichter received the instrument in 1950. I purchased this wonderful instrument in 1989 from my former teacher, James Pellerite, who had been a personal friend of Mr. Lichter. I believe this flute allows me to produce my concepts for purity and stability of sound. It also allows me a beautiful legato and general warmth of tone that I appreciate.


Why do you feel symphony concerts are relevant today?
We have for all time tried to find meaningful ways for our expression. Whether it is a handprint in a cave or a Mahler symphony on the concert hall stage we will continue to search for that artful expression of who we are and what we experience. The great symphonic literature is a part of that expression and you need a symphony orchestra to perform it.


What kind of music do you listen to outside of work?
When I am not listening to classical music I usually focus on jazz and/or Eastern European ethnic styled recordings. Some of my favorite from both types would be: Art Tatum, Marian McPartland, Chick Corea, Bela Fleck, Pat Metheny, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Afro-Cuban All Stars, Gipsy Kings, Romanian Pan Pipes, and Klezmer.


What are some of your most memorable moments performing with the WSO?
For me, this depends on the Music Directorship era.

Piero Gamba: Our performance in Carnegie Hall, 1979.

Kazuhiro Koizumi: His first performance of Debussy’s ‘La Mer’.

Bramwell Tovey: Our weekend of performing all the Beethoven symphonies in three days. Also the duo recital he and I performed for the WSO ‘On Stage Recital’ series.

Andrey Boreyko: Gustav Mahler’s ‘Symphony #9’

Alexander Mickelthwate: Gustav Mahler’s ‘Symphony #7’

Daniel Raiskin: Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Messa da Requiem’


Why is orchestral performance important to you?
Symphonic music is one of our great art forms. It allows for creativity, interpretation, expression, performance, and communication. For seventy plus years now, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has been an advocate for outstanding symphonic performance in an effort to enrich the cultural vitality and quality of life for all of our community. Whether we perform Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary, or today’s Pops music the musicians of the WSO bring a commitment to great performance for all to experience.


After 45 plus years of orchestral experience what advice might you have for a young musician?

Be flexible so you might do what ever is needed for a great musical performance.

Know what you want to say musically and play with enough expression so that even the listeners at the back of the hall will feel the emotional impact of your performance.

As in any profession, there will always be frustrations. Never lose sight of the fact you are here to make music. Focus on the artistic aspects and make an effort to perform beautifully in spite of what else might be happening.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the musical performance – try to play fearlessly no matter how difficult your individual effort might have to be.

Get to know the stars of Crazy For You: In Concert

We are so excited to announce the cast of Crazy For You! For the full line-up, you can check the concert page, but we wanted to sit down with Chase Winnicky and Jade Repeta, the stars of the show.

WSO: Have you ever performed with the WSO before?

Chase Winnicky: I sang in the WSO’s Rising Stars Concerts of both Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Requiem with my high school choir, but this will mark my debut professionally as a soloist with the WSO.
Jade Repeta: This will be my very first time singing with the WSO! My Grandmother, however, has had the pleasure of singing with the WSO many times. I’m so honoured to have an opportunity to experience what my grandmother did, and speaks so fondly of.

WSO: What is your favourite thing about Crazy For You, the production? 

CW: It has all of the elements of a classic, feel good musical. A beautiful Gershwin score, huge lavish dance numbers, boat loads of comedy and of course a good old love story. Who could ask for anything more? Sorry – I couldn’t resist.
JR: Well, I LOVE a musical with some tap dancing, and Crazy For You has so much of it. Tap is my favourite kind of dance because it’s a combination of dancing, and playing an instrument. For me, the more tap, the better! It’s one of my favourite ways to express myself.

WSO: Are you from / do you live in Winnipeg?

CW: I was born and raised here in Winnipeg, but moved to Toronto in 2015 to attend the Randolph College for the Performing Arts. For the past 4 years I stayed based and working out there up until this past August, when I decided to move back home to be near my family again. As a performer your work can take you all over the place (as mine has), and so it feels really nice to be based back at home and a part of this community again. There truly is no theatre community like Winnipeg. It’s something special. I’m very proud to be from here.  
JR: I was born and raised in North Kildonan! I now live in Stratford, Ontario, with my partner. The most recent production I did in Winnipeg was Billy Elliot at RMTC, which was a few years ago. I’m so excited to be coming home again to work on such an exciting show!

WSO: What’s your favourite song from the musical?

CW: Such a tough question…but I think it’s a toss up between “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” (which I have the pleasure of getting to sing). Anytime you’re given the opportunity to sing Gershwin’s music as a singer is such a gift. 
JR: I think my favourite song might be “Slap That Bass”. It’s SO COOL… and it always gets stuck in my head when I listen to it. Although an honourable mention goes to the Overture. I really love Overtures. You get to hear themes from every song in the show all tied together in the most beautiful way, and they almost always make me cry.

WSO: What is your favourite musical of all time?

CW: West Side Story! I’m a sucker for a good old love story, and that score will never get old to me. If the WSO ever decides to put on West Side Story in concert, you’ve got your Tony right here *wink wink*.
JR: Hmm. Perhaps Sunday In The Park With George. I think the song ‘Sunday’ could be the most beautiful piece of music theatre ever written. Or maybe I just like songs about weekends…

WSO: What are you most excited about for this production?

CW: I actually played Bobby in high school at Glenlawn Collegiate, so I’m really looking forward to revisiting him professionally, all these years later. It’s such a fun show and a gift of a role to get to play. This entire cast that our incredible creative team has put together is such a great group, and I sincerely cannot wait to bring this piece to life and sing this score with an entire orchestra (!!). This is definitely going to be a highlight of my career, and I couldn’t have asked for a better “home coming” role and show. I’m very grateful to be given this opportunity.  
JR: I can’t wait to sing with a full orchestra. I’ve never experienced anything close to that size before. I get to be part of a team of people with all of these extraordinary skills, all working together to create art. It’s an honour to be part of that team for a few nights.
You can see Chase and Jade take the stage April 17-19, 2020. Tickets available here. 
Happy birthday, Beethoven!

It’s Beethoven’s 250th birthday! … we think. Nobody is really sure when the superstar composer was born – there is a record for his baptism on December 17, 1770, but not for his actual day of birth. We are SO excited to celebrate his birthday with four concerts, a specially-crafted WSO beer, and a special event series.

Before we get into that, here are some things you might not know about our main man, Ludwig Van.

Beethoven published his first composition at age 12.
His first documented piece was 9 Variations on a March by Ernst Dressler in C minor – listen here. He falsely believed he was younger than he was – many say this idea was engineered by his father to make his son’s musical talents seem even more advanced than they already were.

Beethoven was the first musician to ever be given a salary for composing.
Our pal made 4,000 florins per year on the condition that he remain in Vienna for the rest of his life, paid by the Archduke at the time.

Beethoven struggled with deafness.
Beethoven began to lose his hearing in his mid-20’s and was completely deaf by 45. Despite this obstacle,  he continued to conduct and compose music including his famous Sixth Symphony.

Beethoven was known to end performances if he heard anybody talking during them. 
This may not come as a shock given the emotional complexity of his music, but Beethoven was a rather angsty fellow and could be sort of a grump.

Test your Beethoven knowledge.
How much do you know about Beethoven? Take this fun quiz and find out!

Now, onto the fun stuff!

Beer + Beethoven

We are so excited to hold our first Beer + Beethoven event at Nonsuch Brewing Co. on January 15 at 7:00 pm. Capacity is VERY LIMITED so book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Online reservations will be available next week – check back then! 

Join members of the WSO for a ‘spirited discussion’ about Beethoven and his Symphony No. 3, which we are playing January 17-18. Never been to a symphony before? Great! We want you to come join us to get the buzz on Beethoven, and for a free snack item and beverage courtesy of our friends at Nonsuch. There will be other surprises throughout the evening as well.

Upcoming Beer + Beethoven events:

March 4, 7 pm
April 22, 7 pm

Beethoven Trio Pass

Select 3 Beethoven passes for only $99.

Purchase the Beethoven Trio Pass

Meet the Musician: Mike Kemp

Rochester New York, binge-watching The Office with his cat, and the cello: this week’s Meet the Musician features our principal timpanist, Mike Kemp!

WSO: How long have you played with the WSO?
Mike Kemp: This is my 5th season with the WSO.

Where are you from?
I hail from Rochester, New York. It is about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Toronto. I felt pretty at home right away in Winnipeg because I grew up with winters full of snow and Tim Hortons all over the place.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
A significant amount of my non-WSO time is spent hanging out with my wife Anna and our beautiful princess of a cat, Zoe. We have logged a lot of hours on our couch watching The Office on Netflix from start to finish, which we do about twice a year.

I am also a big hockey guy. I grew up playing AAA hockey in western New York and still try to get out on the ice as much as possible. I actually play on a beer league team named the Slack Hawks with several other WSO musicians and a member of the WSO staff. On top of playing hockey, I am also die-hard fan of the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bills. I spend an unhealthy amount of time and emotion following those teams.

Mike, Anna, and their cat, Zoe.

Do you play other instruments than timpani?
In the WSO, I will occasionally play in the percussion section for certain shows. This means I may end up playing anything from the cowbell to the xylophone. I have also played the drum set for several of the WSO/Rainbow stage collaborations.

My first instrument was actually the cello. Growing up, I was much more serious about pursuing the cello in university than timpani or percussion. It remains my favourite instrument to listen to!

How did you get into music?
I come from an extremely musical family. My grandmother was a trumpet major and percussion minor at the Eastman School of Music and went on to be a public school music teacher. My mom is the Assistant Principal Cellist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and has played with them for 43 years. My sister is a Violin teacher in Rochester, NY, and my aunt studied horn at Eastman and Yale. My dad jokes that he only plays the radio but he was the stage manager for the Rochester Philharmonic for many years and also worked in their production/operations office for a while. Naturally, I married a musician as well. My wife Anna plays the bass and regularly performs with the WSO.

Which other orchestras have you played with?
I have had the incredible opportunity to perform as a guest Principal Timpanist with the San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony. I have also played both timpani and percussion with the Toronto Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

What’s your favourite thing about Winnipeg?
THE SUMMERS!! The long days, near perfect golf conditions, and ample patios to bike to and enjoy an adult beverage on are perfection! However, seeing as the summer is always too short and the winter too long, I have many cold weather activities I like doing as well. I love to skate the river trail and play shinny on the local out door rinks. My wife and I also love exploring the local food/brewery scene. Oh, and Thermea is pure bliss.

Mike is most excited for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 at our Beethoven’s Triple concert this January and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6 at Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto this March. 

Meet the Musician: Kristy Tucker

Cookies, hometown pride, and exploring her city: this week’s edition of Meet the Musician focuses on bassoonist Kristy Tucker!


WSO: How long have you played with the WSO?

Kristy Tucker: I’ve been with the WSO since the start of this season. I just finished my 6th week!


What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to cook and bake, it’s relaxing for me. Right now, I love cooking the winter squash, roasted vegetables, and Manitoba fish! (I’m very sad corn season is over). I’m doing my best to cook seasonally using local ingredients. It’s important to me to try and live sustainably as possible. I have however developed a dangerous addiction to browned butter cookies. I only bake a few cookies at a time, leaving the remaining batter in the fridge. When I’ve had a hard day, I just pre-heat the oven, and bam, fresh baked cookies! I originally started doing this in an attempt to limit my cookie consumption, but it has had the opposite effect. My dad is a baker, I guess it’s in my genes…

My next goal is to start brewing my own ginger beer. I’m just waiting on the fermentation airlock to arrive in the mail and I’ll be good to go. I also love playing scrabble and watching quiz shows. A friend got me into one from the UK called Only Connect. I’ve been binge watching it.


Which other orchestras have you played with?

I graduated this past May with my Master of Musical Arts degree from Yale University. This is my first professional job and I am so excited to be back in Winnipeg playing with the musicians that I looked up to growing up. It’s kind of surreal. Prior to this season, I’ve played as an extra in a few orchestras around North America, including Orchestre Classique de Montreal, the New World Symphony, and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.


What’s your favourite thing about Winnipeg?

I love the food and culture in Winnipeg. We’re kind of segregated (geographically) from the rest of Canada and this has allowed us to thrive in our own little ecosystem. Of course the best part about Winnipeg for me though, is that almost my entire family is here, and that it’s home. I’m also very excited to be back in a civilized place where you’re given honey dill with your chicken fingers.


What’s your favourite kind of music to listen to?

I’m a little reluctant to admit that all of the music I listen to is classical. My favourite pieces are mostly without bassoon. Sometimes it stresses me out to hear bassoon on recordings – I start analyzing and overthinking things. I just want to enjoy the music! Current favs are Ravel’s string quartet and Debussy’s cello sonata.


What do you do with your time off?

So far in my time off, I’ve spent a lot of time showing my partner Eric (WSO bassist) around my hometown. We met at Yale and won our auditions 2 weeks apart. We are still in awe that things worked out the way they did. This past week we went to Fort Whyte Alive to go on a mini hike. He was most enamoured with the toboggan slide. I guess they don’t have those in Ohio. We also attended a Jets game and I forgot to warn him about the “true north” shout in the middle of the anthem. He was very confused.


How did you get into music?

I began piano lessons when I was 5 because my older sister hated it and my parents had already paid for the year. I began playing bassoon in high school because my high school band teacher (Jacquie Dawson, now director of bands at the University of Manitoba) asked the class if anyone wanted to switch instruments and play bassoon and I raised my hand and said, “What’s a bassoon?”

I’m not sure if she misheard me, but she responded with “Great! We’ll have someone get you set up”.


Kristy is most excited for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ In Concert. She has dressed up as Hermione for Halloween twice! 

Meet the Musician: Patty Evans

CrossFit, dogs, travelling orchestras, and more: this week’s “Meet the Musician” is based on Patricia (Patty) Evans, the WSO’s Principal Horn player!

Patty, Todd, and Baxter.

Patty’s parents are both music teachers, so she thinks they planted the idea of playing the horn in her head.


“They probably needed someone to play the horn in their bands,” laughs Patty.


Patty has a sister who is also a professional musician who freelances in upstate New York and Vermont.


In her spare time, Patty likes to hang out with her dog, Baxter, and do CrossFit.


Fun fact: Micah Heilbrunn (principal clarinet) and Emma Quackenbush (cello) go to the same gym as Patty.


“It’s fun to work out together. I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out that what we do is very physical, but playing your instrument for a few hours every day takes a toll on your body, so it’s important to keep yourself strong to prevent neck and shoulder issues.”


On top of CrossFit, Patty is planning on getting back into running with Baxter.


Patty’s position with the WSO is her first full-time permanent symphony job. Before the WSO, she played in the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida.


“I’m from a small place, so it’s kind of nice to be in the middle of nowhere [in a city like Winnipeg]. We have everything right here, so even though it’s isolated, we make our own fun.”


Patty is married to Todd, who sings in the Dirty Catfish Brass Band. He also plays the French horn and plays in the orchestra quite frequently.


“Another thing I like about Winnipeg is we were able to both move here and pursue individual paths and find careers as two musicians.”


Patty’s favourite thing about Winnipeg is the closeness of its people.


“Winnipeg has a certain vibe that’s definitely unique. The arts and culture scene, the architecture, the insane weather… I think that creates a sort of cohesion between the residents that is rare. I think bigger cities don’t have the same kind of pulse a city like Winnipeg has. Another thing I find really interesting about Winnipeg is no matter where I go in the world, I find other Winnipeggers. This woman saw my husband in Central Park and was like ‘Hey, are you in the Dirty Catfish Brass Band?!’”


“I was recently in Auckland NZ performing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and [violinist] James Ehnes was the soloist. Even though Manitoba has such a small population, I feel like I run into people from there. It’s like we attract each other, and that’s what I was talking about with the cohesiveness.”


Patty’s favourite composer is Richard Strauss.


“His father was a famous horn player, so he wrote really well for the horn. At the time, what he was writing was so out there that it was considered unplayable. I like the way he uses the horn in his tone poems, and the writing, and the way the pieces are orchestrated. But I love Mahler too. At the end of Mahler’s second symphony with the choir, you know you’ve experienced something.”


Patty loves to do karaoke on her days off. AGIT is her favourite place, and many of the symphony players end up going there.


Patty has gotten to travel with the Montreal Symphony, doing two European tours, and got to play in Auckland for a month and a half this summer.


Patty is most looking forward to playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto this season, which features Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony.


FUN FACT: Patty cut out coffee a few months ago after years of being a consistent coffee drinker. She also has a cat named Gus.


BACKGROUND CHECK: Patty has played with the WSO since 2002.


HOMETOWN: Bakersfield, Vermont


FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WINNIPEG: The closeness of the residents.


GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette.