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Sault Symphony Orchestra plans a homecoming (and special kids' concert)

Feb. 25 performance at Machine Shop will feature Sault native James Gardiner, a trumpet soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; children's concert planned for day before
Sault Symphony Orchestra

The Sault Symphony Orchestra returns to The Machine Shop with Classical Spectacular — the third performance of its current season — at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25.

James Gardiner, a Sault native and Toronto Symphony Orchestra trumpet soloist, returns to his hometown to join the Sault Symphony Orchestra for the concert.

Gardiner has been with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra trumpet section since 1999 but returns often to play with the Sault Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s a real bonus having Jim play,” said Stephen Mallinger, Sault Symphony Orchestra artistic director and conductor speaking to SooToday.

“He’s a great guy. He played in our Nutcracker at Christmas. He’s a lot of fun to play with because he’s so great and so easy to play with.”

Gardiner will be joining the Sault Symphony Orchestra for the Trumpet Concerto by Czech composer Johann Neruda. 

The Classical Spectacular program includes:

  • Overture to Coriolanus, Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Adoration, Florence Price
  • Danse Villageoise, Claude Champagne
  • Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, Johann Neruda (James Gardiner, trumpet soloist)
  • Intermission
  • Symphony No. 3 in A minor (Scottish), Felix Mendelssohn

Of the concert’s final piece, Mallinger said “Mendelssohn was German and he visited Scotland with a friend when he was 20. He was already a very experienced composer and he visited Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh. It’s a ruin. It was pretty much destroyed and he was really affected by the mystique of this ruin and he wrote the piece based on that.”

“He did consider including bagpipes in the piece but it wouldn’t tune with the orchestra. It’s not Scottish music per se but it’s his interpretation.”

Tickets to Classical Spectacular are available through the Sault Symphony’s website and the Sault Community Theatre Centre box office.

Prior to Classical Spectacular, the Sault Symphony Orchestra will host Mini Maestros at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 at St. Andrew’s United Church, 712 Wellington St. E.

The event is for children to enjoy and be introduced to orchestral music in a more informal environment.

Admission is free.

Even babies have enjoyed the concerts for kids held by the Sault Symphony Orchestra. 

“We’ve had newborns in fact. Weeks old, sometimes,” Mallinger said.

“It’s amazing to see really little people — and I mean really little people — come to hear the music and I give the parents a lot of credit for stepping out and giving it a go.”

Children are welcome to meet the orchestra’s musicians and get a closer look at the orchestra’s wide range of musical instruments.

“Kids are fascinated by these instruments, especially the big ones like the bassoon, the bass and the percussion. Kids get a real kick out of seeing those because they’re so physical, they’re so big.”   

The Sault Symphony’s concerts for children started as a post-pandemic initiative in 2022.

“We had a huge response because I think people were just really keen to get out and do things again. It was a lot of fun so we’ve kept it going since then,” Mallinger said.

Will the children’s shows encourage some of the youngsters to be orchestra musicians?

“That’s the hope. It takes a long time to be able to do this but you have to start somewhere. Everybody starts when they’re young. Everybody in the orchestra has been playing all their lives, every day.”

Mini Maestros will include the Sault Symphony’s 40-piece orchestra performing parts of the following day’s Classical Spectacular and will be 45 minutes in duration.  

“We don’t do the full programme but we give them a really good sample of what the main program feels like, so they definitely walk away hearing the really good music they’ll play the next day,” Mallinger said.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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