Saturday night, I had the great fortune to attend the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra concert. Knowing Ravel’s Bolero & de Falla’s works were on the program were the main draws for me.

   The entire program was extremely well performed & kept the audience engaged the entire time. Just before the concert started, Mark Turner, CEO and Creative Producer came out and told us that the programs had mysteriously disappeared – he mentioned having said something earlier about wishing to one day do a concert where they don’t tell the audience what they’re going to play … it may have been that wish that made the programs disappear … who knows? He went on to tell us exactly what we were about to hear including a little about the audience reaction to the first time Ravel’s Bolero was ever performed.

   The concert began with de Falla’s Interludio e Danza from La vide breve. I applaud both the orchestra and the conductor: Judith Yan on this – especially the opening – this is a piece that begins as if mid-sentence out of nowhere with a grand flourishing into life! Here and later in the program in the Bolero, we experienced great senses of restraint & a feeling of “wait for it” as the music unfolded – which prepared the brilliantly played quick ending section perfectly!

   Next, Angela Cheng took the stage as piano soloist in de Falla’s piano concerto: Noches en los Jardines de España. I remember long ago, my first time hearing Angela perform – it was near the beginning of her career & I remember her throwing herself at the piano – there were  some moments in this that reflected that tonight. Mostly, I was taken away by her absolute immersion in the music – she was most definitely playing with the orchestra – & seemed to practically play the orchestra – all while expressively playing the solo part I a very efficient & easy-looking manner. She and Judith Yan made quite a team in this performance!

Angela Cheng at the piano with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra – seen behind her & to her left, concert master Michael Swan. Photo borrowed from SSO’s facebook page.

   Intermission gave us an opportunity to stretch our legs & enjoy a performance by Flamenco Borealis – a great mix of some intense & lighter Flamenco music and Dance. Lina danced, Daniel sang & played guitar & they were joined by 2 other dancers who did palmas & then joined in with the Dancing!! I do believe that they finished their set with Bulerías

Lina Kazan with Daniel Regnier behind her from Flamenco Borealis – photo borrowed from SSO’s facebook page.

   The second half of the SSO program brought us some new music by Film music composer, Fernando Velázquez: Viente de oeste. This music was not written specifically for film, but being an orchestral tone poem, it tells a story nonetheless: the sections seem to seamlessly meld one into the next: from Andante (walk) to a very eerie stillness in Contemplation (Still) to an exuberant Animato (Celebration). In this piece, I found myself in a frightening “film forest” – dark & unpredictable that eventually led to a frenzied celebratory finish.

   Then, it was time at last for Ravel’s Bolero. There was a bit of a stage re-set to bring the snare drum player out beside the strings and also to bring in the saxophone players … The snare drum (I believe played by Brayden Krueger) began so incredibly quietly and there was an inexorable feeling tempo-wise throughout as Ravel’s melody traveled from one soloist & one section to another through the steady build – for which I applaud everyone on stage: the restraint to keep that slow, constant build to the thrilling & all encompassing ending.

Judith Yan, conductor – with Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra – photo borrowed from SSO’s facebook page.

   The audience members were on their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation shortly after the release of the final sounds in Bolero!
Many thanks to the orchestra as a whole, to the soloists within the orchestra, to our wonderful piano soloist, Angela Cheng, and most importantly to Judith Yan who conducted this concert in a specific, masterful, & expressive way with precise efficiency!
And, Thanks to my Mamma Dianne for the ticket to catch this live performance!

Brava e Bravo Tutti!!

Et Merci Beaucoup!!!

Anna Marie Bekolay
Photo credit: Natalie Struck Photo

Anna Marie Bekolay – a multidisciplinary artist – combines her passion for all the Arts (visual, dance, drama, design, and most especially music) to create a new character and evocative music for every project she participates in.  She is a collaborative musician and holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree, a grade 10 Violin RCM, and an Associate diploma in Voice Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for which she won a gold medal for the highest mark in Canada (2006).

Prior to the pandemic, Anna was involved regularly with 13 performing ensembles. Since then, this number has been reduced to 4.… This created the opportunity for Anna to further explore her interest in dance and in health and wellness. She participates regularly with “Dance On!” (an improvised dance-play-movement-meditation group – an outgrowth of Aileen Hayden’s improvisational dance class: the “Big Fat Ass Dance Class” ®. Anna currently takes other online dance classes as well: African Brazilian Dance with Newton Moraes (Newton Moraes Dance Theatre) and Modern Dance with Jackie Latendresse (Free Flow Dance Theatre Company) and she sings and dances as part of her own meditation practise which is quickly progressing toward a new concert series (opening in March 2023).

Ms. Bekolay’s currently active performance projects include: Back of the Bus (Celtic), The Whiskey Jerks (Klezmer/Roma (Gypsy) Folk/Prog Rock/Jazz), Mac Talla Quartet (String Quartet with vocals), and The Stephanies (Pop Trio). Anna also continues to enjoy teaching Violin/Fiddle at the Saskatoon Academy of Music and she also enjoys teaching Voice, Violin/Fiddle, and Recorder in her home Studio (Anna Bekolay’s Studio).

One of her greatest joys is in being fully present while developing connection and communication through the sharing of music with students, band mates, and audiences alike.


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