Classical Summer

In the summer of 1963, music professor (later Dr.) David Kaplan of the University of Saskatchewan did something particularly and uniquely entrepreneurial, at least for that time and that place: he started a summer classical music school. This was at approximately the same time as he was assuming the role of conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, in addition to his academic responsibilities. This being the symphony orchestra that didn’t need a concert hall to play for the people.

Kaplan rented space at my local public school, Grosvenor Park, and with the assistance of other music faculty and musicians, conducted a series of classes in various instruments. I chose (or someone chose for me) to study the bassoon that summer. In addition to learning a particular instrument, Professor Kaplan provided the children with their first experience with playing in an orchestra.

The end of summer grand finale included both individual and group performances. I squawked my way off the stage with my solo bassoon performance, but was nonethless hooked, and continued to study the instrument for a couple of years thereafter.

Maybe this type of summer activity for children is common in many cities. Yet I’ve never seen another summer classical music school for young children, in nearly fifty years on. I still believe that David Kaplan and his parent, children and musician supporters in Saskatoon were very much ahead of the times on this one.

Lots of sophistication on the Saskatchewan flatlands. Always has been.

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1 Response to Classical Summer

  1. It was at this Summer Program at Grosvenor Park School that I was first introduced to the French horn. It was a bit of a disappointment. I had expressed interest in either the trumpet or trombone, especially the latter. So what do I get: this huge, unwieldy French horn. Being a too-cooperative kid, I accepted my fate and lugged the thing around for years, even eventually being promoted to the Saskatoon Junior Synphony (Sympathy, we called it), now known as the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra, in which I played for three years. Then I gave it up for chess.

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