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The first challenge, as McKnight put it, was simply finding a way to continue having concerts during the pandemic, which put a halt to the majority of live shows throughout Saskatchewan and made the typical large-scale production put on by the opera each year nearly impossible. McKnight turned to smaller and more intimate live-streamed concerts as a solution.
The first of the Saskatoon Opera’s digital concerts in 2021 features music with a unique tie to Saskatchewan, even though most people may have never heard it before. The concert, Ukrainian Art Song on a Starlit Night, will take place on Jan. 23 by live-stream, thanks to equipment and assistance from the SSO, which has been using it to stream its own concerts.
“Being able to partner with the symphony and using their audio and video equipment for live streaming, that opens up things for us,” McKnight said.
Soprano Kateryna Khartova and pianist Sophia Mycyk will take digital centre stage for a performance of both old and new Ukrainian songs, in a province with deep Ukrainian roots.
Khartova, who in the past studied music at the University of Saskatchewan and recently returned to Saskatoon from Toronto to be with her partner, said she was delighted to share this music with many for the first time.
“It’s natural for me to be drawn to it,” she said. “In order to make something known, you have to step up and introduce it to people who may not have a chance, otherwise, to hear about it.”