Creative Isolation: Eric Paetkau prepares the SSO for a strange year

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I think it bodes well for us when the pandemic hit, because a lot of these questions we were answering and challenging ourselves with just continued on. That’s what I mean about exciting … I mean exciting in terms of these questions that we had. We said okay, how can we reflect the community more? How can we be a bigger presence, be more impactful, in certain ways? … that’s the exciting part. Making the SSO very relevant and very connected to this community. That’s what we’ve always wanted to do, but in these sort of challenging times we can even make it more so.

Q: How much of the SSO’s new setup is going to become part of the “new normal”?

A: I think live streaming is going to continue. It’s been going on for years. The Berlin Philharmonic has had the Digital Concert Hall for 12 years. The Metropolitan Opera has had it for a long time … if we can reach more communities — let’s say you’re in La Ronge and you can’t come down for a concert or wherever it is, and we have an opportunity to share that with people, that’s great.

Also, the educational part — these courses that we’re doing, with (Saskatoon composer) Kendra Harder, and that others will be doing — those will be great resources for teachers and for other people who want to dive into it more. So all these initiatives that have happened, I think those will definitely continue. And we’ve been asking challenging questions of the SSO for years; that will continue.

Q: What kind of media have you been consuming during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: I continued on a lot of what I do — I’m always exploring new music, new contemporary music, new composers. A lot of people maybe had more time, they were sending me a lot more stuff. Which is great, because I get to know that music. Just exploring all the output that came with this pandemic.

The opening concert for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Postcards from Paris, will take place at St. John’s Cathedral on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m.. Digital tickets to the live-streamed show on Saturday can be purchased online.

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