The weather is getting warmer, and Saskatoon’s music scene is also starting to heat up. March is ushering in some exciting concerts for almost every taste. In this column, I explore just a few of the excellent entertainment options on offer this month.
UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN JAZZ ENSEMBLE
Are you a jazz fan? If so, you’re sure to know Yamaha recording artist Bobby Shew. He’s a three-time Grammy-nominated jazz musician who has toured as a lead trumpeter for big-name musicians including Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Paul Anka and more.
On March 16, Shew will bring his talent to the University of Saskatchewan campus, where he will join the USask Jazz Ensemble for its final concert of the season.
Under the direction of music professor Dean McNeill, the jazz ensemble has toured in Canada and the United States and has commissioned and premiered new works for the contemporary large jazz ensemble idiom. The March 16 concert, which will start at 7:30 p.m. in Quance Theatre in the Education Building, will feature music by Duke Ellington, Radiohead and many more. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and will be sold at the door.
A man considered to be one of the world’s greatest cellists is coming to Saskatoon.
German-Canadian musician Johannes Moser has performed with some of the top orchestras on Earth, including the London Symphony, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
On March 17, Moser will perform with pianist Chiharu Iinuma as part of a Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) special event. The recital, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Convocation Hall on the University of Saskatchewan campus, will feature the music of Prokofiev, Debussy, Beethoven and Brahms.
Moser, who was born into a musical family in 1979, began studying the cello when he was eight years old. He was the top prize winner at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition and, in 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Brahms prize. He also has a connection to this province; as the SSO website notes, Moser is “the son of Saskatchewan musical royalty,” since his mother is Saskatchewan-born soprano Edith Wiens.
Moser is in demand throughout the world, and has been described by Gramophone magazine as “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists.” He plays on an Andrea Guarneri cello from 1694 from a private collection.
For more information about the concert, or to purchase tickets, go online to saskatoonsymphony.org.
JEN & JOHN II CD RELEASE
Saskatoon musicians Jen Lane and John Antoniuk are following up their debut duets album with a new disc — aptly titled Jen & John II — that is scheduled for release on March 22. To mark the milestone, a CD release event will be held at The Bassment on March 23. Doors are scheduled to open at 8 p.m., while the show is set for 9 p.m.
Lane and Antoniuk are partners in life and in music. The local music scene veterans — who are also new parents — have been lauded for combining indie rock and roots music with country and folk influences. In addition to their duets albums, Lane is known for her solo music and Antoniuk is known for his band Smokekiller.
The duo’s new album features six original tunes as well as a cover of the classic song Love Hurts, which was popularized by Nazareth. Shane Connery Volk, the lead singer of the Saskatoon rock band One Bad Son, created the album’s cover art. He was asked by Lane and Antoniuk to draw something that reflects the maturing of their songwriting and their relationship.
For more information about Jen & John II, go to jenandjohnmusic.com.
MUSIC FOR THE GUT ARTISTSHOWCASE
Question: What’s better than listening to great music?
Answer: Listening to great music while supporting a great cause.
Good news: You can do exactly that by attending the Music for the Gut second annual artist showcase, which is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on March 30 at Grace Westminster United Church. The event, which is being held in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, will showcase the talents of numerous musicians, including Jordie Hughton, Gerard Weber, Sophie McBean, Yuli Chen, Amos Friesen, Doo-ly Noted Quartet and many more.
Tickets to the March 30 show are $20 in advance and can be purchased at McNally Robinson or at Saskatoon Academy of Music. Tickets will also be available at the door for $25.
Jordie Hughton, a baritone singer and voice teacher in Saskatoon, is the artistic director of Music for the Gut, an annual variety show that is held each summer. This year, the ninth annual Music for the Gut concert will take place on Aug. 29 at TCU Place. The money raised by the show is provided to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, a national charity focused on finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and on improving the lives of people affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Raising money and awareness is very important to the Hughton family, since three of the four family members live with IBD. Jordie’s mother, Tara, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in her early 30s, while his brother, Jamey, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1997. Jordie was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2010. Jamey and Jordie’s father and Tara’s husband, Basil Hughton, also participates in Music for the Gut by serving as the house manager.
Next month, the Hughton family will host open auditions on April 5 and 7 to perform in the big show at TCU Place on Aug. 29. Email email@example.com for an audition package or go to musicforthegut.com for more information.