The great American-by-way-of-Saskatchewan novelist, Wallace Stegner wrote, “It’s easier to die than to move…at least for the Other Side you don’t need trunks.” I’m beginning to think he was right. Most of us don’t use trunks anymore, thankfully. But the boxes. So many boxes. I currently sit in a sea of unpacked boxes that I’m choosing to ignore until an unscheduled more convenient time. Moving to a new city is one of life’s great trials. Wallace Stegner did it twenty times—including to Eastend, Saskatchewan, just a few hours west of Regina—and this is my eighth time. After stints in Winnipeg, New York, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver, as of three weeks ago, I am a newly minted Reginan.
So if it’s such a soul-sucking task, then why do it? In my case, opportunity knocked. Over two years ago, there was a mutual spark of interest between the Regina Symphony Orchestra and me. After a few highly successful and mutually satisfying getting-to-know-you visits, this coming weekend I will conduct my first Masterworks concert as the 15th Music Director of the RSO. For me personally, it’s a time of unqualified excitement; for the orchestra, it’s the beginning of a new era. Orchestras right across the country are reinventing themselves, and it’s a privilege for me to help shape the future of the RSO. As we expand our reach into new corners of Regina and surrounding communities, I’m thrilled to be a part of it all. I guess you could say I’ve now officially rolled up my sleeves. After two years, it feels pretty good.
This weekend, we’ll feature the towering epic that is Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, played by the world-renowned Canadian violinist James Ehnes. Beethoven remains the most astonishingly original agent of change that music has ever known. He blasted the doors of the establishment wide open and ushered in a new role for music and musicians. Music would no longer be a polite, elegant entertainment; from this point forward, it was a passion, a visceral mode of communication, and a way of life. I can’t think of a better piece to usher in our own new era at the Regina Symphony.
An orchestra is a magical and powerful thing. There’s no arguing that music has the mysterious power to move us all to places that words cannot take us, and there’s no vehicle to transport us better than a real live orchestra. The RSO has been for many years and remains a powerful voice in this community. My greatest hope is that everyone who joins us this season will experience something that transforms in one way or another.
Every second week, I’ll be here to talk about music: what it means, why it matters and where it takes us. Think of it as my corner to give you the inside scoop on the music we play and the inspiring musicians who play it. It’s a rich, diverse and fascinating topic, and one that possesses my thoughts daily. Once I get the boxes unpacked and the books on shelves, it will all seem a little easier. I shouldn’t complain too loudly—in his lifetime, Beethoven moved over 70 times.