Prince Albert fiddler and multi-instrumentalist Donny Parenteau has always secretly wished to play with an orchestra. Now, just in time for Christmas, that wish is coming true.
Parenteau will be the featured artist in Holiday Pops with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 9 at TCU Place in Saskatoon. Parenteau credited former Sesame Street star Bob McGrath for the inspiration.
“When I first met Bob McGrath on Telemiracle he used to tell me stories of how he would work with the Symphony Orchestra and how he’d bring in his Symphony charts,” Parentau remembered. “He said the feeling you get when you have an orchestra behind you playing is just huge ball of energy (and) of sound that comes to you. He said, ‘brace yourself if you ever get the opportunity.’
“The thing is too, I have never actually sat and listened to a Symphony at a concert, so this is gonna be the first time working with them and first time listening to them.”
Parenteau said he is looking forward to the experience
“People always say ‘how does it make you feel?’ I say, ‘it’s like fiddle meeting the violin,’” he explained.
Parenteau’s own Christmas music has been arranged for the orchestra in its annual holiday spectacular. He said that the orchestra has charted his songs and he will also be playing fiddle with the SSO. The orchestra has sent him prep material to use in practice, just to get him used to the sounds he’ll be hearing, and his musical cues.
Parenteau said the performance is extra special because his tune I Love Christmas was one he recorded with his baby girl. He originally wrote the song 15 years ago when his daughter Julianna was just born.
“I wrote the Christmas song and the following year before her first birthday, we brought her into the studio,” Parenteau remembered. “(It was) her first time in the studio. She wasn’t even one year old yet. She was probably only maybe 10 months old. We brought he in the studio and we had her laugh into a microphone.”
Parenteau said that his wife and daughter will be at the show, which makes it extra special. Julianna was recently a nominee and performer at the Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Awards and is pursuing her own career.
“With her wanting to also pursue a music career as a singer, and has been in the studio since (then), it’s pretty cool when her first time ever in the studio she wasn’t even one, and now she’s performing on her own,” Parenteau said.
Parenteau and the SSO will also be joined by other special guests including the University of Saskatchewan Chorus and Aurora Voce choirs as they spread holiday cheer. Local favourite Garry Gable will be reprising his role reading and performing scenes from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Parenteau said that he is looking forward to Gable’s performance with the orchestra almost as much as his own performance.
“It’s going to be a pretty cool show and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Tickets are $63 – $87 for the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at TCU Place.
“I’m just thrilled and I encourage anybody out there, if they get the opportunity, to come see this, especially if you’ve never seen it,” Parenteau said.