Performing with the Edmonton Pops Orchestra has always required creativity, but the arrival of COVID-19 forced them to find more creative ways to remain, well, creative.
The artistic group spend much of the COVID outbreak learning how to digitally record their own music so they could stay in touch and keep performing together. Those efforts have paid off as the group makes their first tour through Saskatchewan this month, a trip that includes a stop at Prince Albert’s E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Friday.
“We all worked very hard to stay connected during the pandemic, as an orchestra,” artistic director Michael Clark said. “We did some digital projects. We started recording some stuff, and there’s lots of excitement around recording and putting stuff in a digital format and being able to share that way. I think that’s what kept us going through the pandemic—this new experience.”
As the name suggests, the majority of the Edmonton Pops musicians hail from the Edmonton area, although there are plenty of ties to Saskatchewan. Clark himself was born in Saskatoon, and one orchestra member, a violinist, has family in the Prince Albert area.
Other members are touring in Saskatchewan for the first time, and in one case, making their first ever visit to the province. Clark said that has everyone fired up.
“Being able to tour beyond Alberta’s borders is very neat for us,” he said. “We do a lot of playing in and around the Edmonton region, but to be able to travel outside of the Edmonton region and share our music with a wider audience, we’re very excited.”
The Edmonton Pops concert will showcase plenty of Broadway classics, including scores from ‘Grease’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and other New York theatre hits. Clark said they love collaborating with actors on theatre projects, and they hope that love of theatre will come through in their music.
“I really enjoy how music can influence the emotion of a scene, and how the orchestra and the textures of an orchestra can express—more strongly than words—what a character or what a personality might be feeling on that stage in a certain moment,” he explained. “That really, for me, is where the excitement is.”
While the music they play comes from a variety of sources, Clark said it blends together to create an intricate story. That story will play out with three actors who will perform on stage in front of the orchestra.
Clark said the musicians have to be versatile to play all the songs, but they enjoy the challenge.
“A violinist doesn’t always get to play jazz. A trumpet player doesn’t always get to play folk music, or roots music as it were, so I think for the musicians, that’s very exciting as well,” he said.
The Edmonton Pops Orchestra performs at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. Tickets are available at tickets.citypa.ca. @kerr_jas • firstname.lastname@example.org