Concert February 7 – at Zion Church

PEI Symphony presents “Beethoven & Beyond”, featuring guest conductor Dinuk Wijeratne
Leo Marchildon on organ
and Branden Kelly on marimba

On Sunday February 7th we return to the beautiful Zion Presbyterian Church with an exciting program featuring three guest artists – soloists Leo Marchildon and Branden Kelly, and guest conductor Dinuk Wijeratne.

Dinuk Wijeratne
Guest Conductor Dinuk Wijeratne

Under Wijeratne’s direction, the orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 along with two very special concertos with the guest soloists.

The PEI Symphony is delighted to welcome renowned PEI organist Leo Marchildon to perform Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the orchestra.   Described as “blisteringly exciting “ by Classics Today, the concerto was composed by Francis Poulenc between 1934 and 1938, and has become one of the most popular organ concertos since the time of Bach.

Leo Marchildon
Leo Marchildon, organ

Growing up in Toronto, Leo earned degrees from the Royal Canadian College of Organists, the Western Conservatory of London Ontario, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto, and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. As a music editor for television, Leo helped shape the musical landscape of programs including The Adventures of Sinbad, Sony’s animated series Rainbow Fish, and Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. Leo’s keyboard expertise has taken him all over the world via touring productions of Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Bugs Bunny on Broadway for which he was both pianist and assistant conductor. PEI audiences are very familiar with his many local show credits including Nunsense, Anne & Gilbert, Sweeney Todd, Rocky Horror, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Leo’s community work includes serving as conductor for the Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra, and accompanist for the UPEI Concert Choir along with many students and instrumentalists at the University for their recitals, juries and masterclasses. He also teaches privately, but composition is certainly Leo’s first love. His work can be heard in the television series Wexford, the stage production Millie’s Girls, the feature film Gabriela, and the documentary Cell Block Scholars, which earned him a regional Emmy nomination. His most recent work is the score for the musical drama The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery.

Leo currently serves as organist and music director for St. Dunstan’s Basilica as well as music supervisor for the Diocese of Charlottetown.

Branden Kelly is the other special guest performer in February, performing a stunning marimba concerto by French composer Emmanuel Séjourné with the orchestra. Raised in Cornwall PEI, Branden Kelly graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree from UPEI, and will be graduating in 2016 with a Master of Percussion Performance degree from the University of Toronto. Branden is well known as a young percussion master with PEI audiences, performing with both the PEI Symphony Orchestra and the UPEI Wind Symphony. In 2012 he was one of three PEI representatives in the 2012 Canadian National Youth Band, was a Rose Bowl finalist at the PEI Kiwanis Music Festival, and was selected to perform at the Indian River Music Festival. In 2013, he placed first in the UPEI Music Performance Competition and third place in percussion at the National Music Festival of Canada in Waterloo, Ontario. In 2015 Branden was awarded both the Suzanne Brenton prize and the overall Rose Bowl Award as top performer at our provincial music festival.

Dinuk Wijeratne
Dinuk Wijeratne

Our guest conductor for this concert, Sri Lankan-born Dinuk Wijeratne is internationally active as a composer, pianist and conductor, described by the Toronto Star asan artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future,” and by the New York Times as “exuberantly creative”.

Following his studies at the Juilliard School with John Corigliano, Dinuk was appointed Resident Conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia, while also garnering commissions from almost all his performance collaborators, to name a few: Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, the Gryphon Trio, Joseph Petric, David Jalbert, TorQ Percussion, Kinan Azmeh, Tim Garland, Zakir Hussain, Ed Thigpen, Pandit Ramesh Misra, Kevork Mourad, Skratch Bastid, Buck 65, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, and Symphony Nova Scotia. His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, Tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

This concert will be presented at the Zion Presbyterian Church located at 135 Prince Street, at the corner of Grafton Street. Tickets are available at the door, or through the Confederation Centre Boxoffice:  $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.   Tickets are also available online up to the day before the concert.  If you have any questions for the box office, please call 902-566-1267, or the PEI Symphony office at 902-892-4333.

Due to the rehearsal schedule for concerts at the Zion Church, the PEISO is unable to host a Pre-Concert Talk

Looking forward to our April concert, on Sunday April 10 the PEISO will present “A Walk with Brahms”.  Under the leadership of PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro, the orchestra will perform Brahms Symphony No. 2, A Walk to the Paradise Garden by Delius, and a very special performance by PEI’s clarinet master Karem J Simon of Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto Op.57.

Paper Lions with the full PEI Symphony!

Today the PEI Symphony is very pleased to announce that PEI indie rock band Paper Lions will be our special guest for our upcoming concert Sunday November 22nd at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Paper Lions will perform new music from their upcoming release Believer with full orchestrations created for this show.

The orchestra will also perform Berlioz’s well loved Symphony fantastique along with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.   See the post below for more information – and don’t miss this very special concert!

Buy Tickets online

The concert begins at 2:30pm, Sunday November 22.  Tickets are available the Confederation Centre Boxoffice:  $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.    There will be a Pre-Concert Talk hosted by PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro who will be joined by Paper Lions, at 1:15pm in Studio Two.

Concert November 22 – Our Fantastic Symphony

On Sunday November 23rd the PEI Symphony will host a special concert event at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.  Under the leadership of Music Director Mark Shapiro,  the PEI Symphony presents “Our Fantastic Symphony”, featuring Berlioz’s epic Symphonie fantastique, along with brand new music by PEI indie rock band Paper Lions!

Written in Paris in 1830, Symphonie fantastique tells the story of an artist’s self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman.  Essentially a self-portrait by composer Hector Berlioz, over five movements the famous symphony lays out his dreams and passions, moments of tenderness, and visions of ecstasy, agony and despair.

The most innovative symphony of the 19th century
was born from diabolical passions.
Tom Service, The Guardian UK

Hector Berlioz, image
Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz was born in 1803 in a small town near the Alps.  At age twelve Berlioz fell in love with music becoming an accomplished flautist, and playing both guitar and drums.  As a young man he experienced heavy mood swings along with fantasies of love and loss.  Leaving home for Paris to study medicine, Berlioz quickly became more interested in music, which his father supported. His mother however considered the arts sinful and eventually disowned him, all of which ultimately provided the young composer with the foundation for his life’s work.

Heavily inspired by Beethoven’s innovations with orchestral music, and equally by a famous Shakespearean actress in Paris, this symphony is simply Berlioz’s extravagant attempt to woo her attention!  At the conclusion of its second premiere, the audience erupted in applause and the actress Harriet Smithson immediately realized that she was the inspiration for the composers’ passion. They married a few years later after a passionate courtship.

Harriet Smithson, image
Harriet Smithson, the inspiration!

With symphonie fantastique, Berlioz stepped into his artistic maturity. The lovesick teenager had become the Artist who had won the heart of his fixation (

After intermission the PEI Symphony will perform a special tribute to PEISO musician Dan St. Amand who passed away earlier this year.  Dan’s friends, students and fellow musicians will perform Aaron Copland’s beautiful Fanfare for the Common Man, a piece that Dan performed and loved.

Last but not least, the orchestra will be joined on stage by PEI’s indie rock band Paper Lions, featuring new music from their upcoming release Believer with full orchestrations created for this special concert.

Highlights of the rest of the PEISO 2015-2016 season include rising Canadian star Dinuk Wijeratne as guest conductor in February for a performance of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, Poulenc’s Organ Concerto featuring PEI organist Leo Marchildon, and a concerto featuring this years’ Suzanne Brenton winner percussionist Branden Kelly.   In April, the orchestra will perform Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto Op.57, and complete the season with Delius A Walk to the Paradise Garden, and Brahms Symphony No.2.

The concert begins at 2:30pm, Sunday November 22.  Tickets are available the Confederation Centre Boxoffice:  $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.    There will be a Pre-Concert Talk hosted by PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro at 1:15pm, in Studio Two at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

For more information about this event, please call 902-892-4333.

Symph fantastique musicSpecial Limited Time Subscription Offer!
Three concerts for only $90 Adults / Seniors and $35 Students

For a limited time we are delighted to offer three amazing concerts for only $90 for Adults and Seniors, and $35 for Students.  That’s only $30 per concert, a savings of up to $42.  Each subscriber will receive a ticket for our next three concerts, Sunday November 22, and also for February 7, and April 10 2016.

Subscriptions are available by calling 902-892-4333 or by downloading this order form.  Purchasing a subscription is the best way to support the PEI Symphony and help us keep the music playing.

Big Band Dancing – Friday October 30th 9pm

Tickets for our Roving Feast and dinner theatre are no longer available, but the evening dance is open to anyone who would enjoy some adult fun this weekend.

When was the last time you danced to Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood”?

At 9:30pm the Perry Williams Little Big Band will lead off with this classic, setting the tone for a fun evening of dancing.

The big band will perform two sets, and then Groove Company will take the stage, performing hits of the 60’s to 80’s.

Friday October 30th
Culinary Institute (4 Sydney Street)
$20 cover, door opens at 9pm
Perry Williams Big Band 9:30pm
Groove Company 10:45pm

Hallowe’en Masquerade Ball & Roving Feast

Savour Our Symphony

For years the PEI Symphony has held an annual dinner fundraiser in late Spring but this year things will be different!

On October 30th the PEI Symphony presents a new annual tradition – a Hallowe’en Masquerade Ball & Roving Feast entitled Savour Our Symphony! The event is open to the public, to symphony supporters and beyond for anyone who would enjoy a fun evening of gourmet food, classical music featuring an ensemble performing a dance macabre, followed by big band and pop dance music.

PEISO Dinner ad Oct 2015

The masquerade ball and dance begins at 6:30pm at the Culinary Institute of Canada with a reception and silent auction viewing, and at 7:30pm the dinner begins, featuring eight food stations staffed by gourmet chefs. Music and entertainment during dinner will be provided by The Singing Strings followed by PEI’s dynamic new string quintet the Atlantic String Machine, along with an ensemble performing a special Dance Macabre treat for Hallowe’en.

Immediately following the dinner, there will be Big Band Dance music featuring nostalgia big band charts of the 1930’s and 40’s featuring the Perry Williams Little Big Band, followed by dance music featuring hits of the 60’s to 80’s performed by Groove Company. It promises to be a fun-filled evening for concert supporters of all ages – gourmet food, a show, and big band dancing!

The event benefits one of the island’s cultural jewels – the sixty-member PEI Symphony Orchestra. For 48 years the PEISO has been performing four concerts a year with orchestral music from classical to pops that are enjoyed by concert goers of all ages. With your help the PEISO will have the necessary funds to “keep the music playing”! PEISO volunteers are out in the community gathering items for a silent auction and donations are encouraged. Every ticket and donation helps the PEISO continue its’ proud legacy of contribution to our community. As a federally registered charity, tax receipts are provided for a portion of each ticket sold and for contributions to the silent auction. We are all very fortunate to have a fine symphony orchestra here in PEI, and support from local music fans make it all possible. This is the PEISO’s most important fundraiser of the year.

Tickets for the Hallowe-en Masquerade Ball are $120 each, $200 for a couple and $800 for a table of eight. Each ticket provides a tax receipt for a $50 donation.

Please call 902-892-5637 to order your tickets now!

For information about the upcoming season or any other inquiries please call 902-892-4333.

Concert October 18 – at Zion Church

PEI Symphony presents “Symphonic Poetry”, featuring soprano Suzie LeBlanc

Suzie LeBlanc, soprano
Suzie LeBlanc

On Sunday October 18th the PEI Symphony returns to the beautiful Zion Presbyterian Church for the first concert of its 48th season. Under the leadership of PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro, the PEISO will present “Symphonic Poetry” featuring renowned Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc singing Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, and a selection of 4 Songs on poems by Elizabeth Bishop, by Toronto composer Christos Hatzis commissioned by Ms. LeBlanc.

Recently appointed to the Order of Canada, soprano Suzie LeBlanc is one of the most sought after sopranos of her generation. Born in Edmunston NB she sang in the choirs of her native Acadia and studied dance and harpsichord before studying singing in London, UK. From there she began an international singing career specializing in early baroque repertoire. Her thirst and curiosity for new vistas then led her toward the repertoire of French mélodies, lieder, contemporary music, and Acadian folk music, as well as exploring the art of improvisation with the ensemble Mélosphere. Her recordings have received international praise and several prestigious awards including a Grammy. Concerts have taken her to festivals and concert halls all over the world for performances with De Nederlandse Opera, Festival de Beaune, Opéra de Montréal, the Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, Festival Vancouver, and Early Music Vancouver along with multiple performances with Symphony Nova Scotia, Symphony New Brunswick, and the Victoria and Montreal Symphony Orchestras.

Four Songs on Poems by Elizabeth Bishop

In 2011, Suzie LeBlanc along with a few friends commissioned a new Canadian work inviting four composers to write music to accompany a set of 11 poems by Elizabeth Bishop, one of the most admired American poets of the mid-20th century. LeBlanc had become deeply interested in Bishop’s poetry after discovering Bishop’s links to Nova Scotia. According to Music Toronto critic John Teraulds, “Bishop’s writing is a sweet example of musical composition with words. Even read silently, there is a natural rhythm, flow, eddy and texture to how syllables and sounds emerge and slip past.”

With the PEISO, LeBlanc will sing four of these songs all written by Toronto composer Christos Hatzis.

Canadian Composer Christos Hatzis
Canadian Composer Christos Hatzis

“Chistos Hatzis’s Four Songs stand out for their overt alliance with long, flowing melodies. The sounds are so filled with description that it could be movie music. There is a flesh-and-blood connection here, too, which ties us not to airy concepts but a real human who lived and loved passionately.” Teraulds

The PEI Symphony Orchestra will also perform feature Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, with Ms. LeBlanc singing the soprano ‘song’ in the famous fourth movement.

The concert will be presented Sunday October 18th at 2:30pm, at the Zion Presbyterian Church located at 135 Prince Street, corner of Grafton Street.

Due to the rehearsal schedule for concerts at the Zion Church, the PEISO is unable to host a Pre-Concert Talk.

Tickets are available at the door, or through the Confederation Centre Boxoffice: $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.

Highlights of the rest of the PEISO 2015-2016 season include a performance of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique in November at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. In February the PEISO welcomes rising Canadian star Dinuk Wijeratne as guest conductor for a performance of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, and PEI organist Leo Marchildon will perform Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the orchestra. The February concert will also feature this year’s Suzanne Brenton winner, percussionist Branden Kelly. In April, PEI’s clarinet master Karem J Simon will perform Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto Op.57, and the orchestra completes the season with Delius A Walk to the Paradise Garden, and Brahms Symphony No.2.

Purchasing a subscription is the best way to support the PEI Symphony and help them keep the music playing. To keep tickets affordable for PEI families and music fans of all ages, the PEI Symphony maintains significantly lower pricing for season subscriptions.   Four concerts for only $110 for adults and seniors, and $50 for students and children, bringing the per concert cost to $27.50 for adults and seniors and only $12.50 for students!

Subscriptions are available by downloading the following PDF form and sending to us by mail or email.   For assistance please call our office at 902-892-4333 and leave a message.

PEISO Subscription Form 2015-2016 Season

For more information about purchasing season subscriptions and concert tickets, please call 902-892-4333.   Tickets to individual concerts will be available through the Confederation Centre Box Office starting in October.  Tickets are also available online up to the day before the concert, and then at the door.  If you have any questions for the box office, please call 902-566-1267.

Concert August 2 with the Dream Lotus Choir

East meets west on Sunday August 2nd, with a performance of the internationally renowned Dream Lotus Choir with our PEI Symphony Orchestra at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Billed as a “serendipitous meeting of celestial music that speaks to our hearts”, this concert will feature the Dream Lotus Insightful Praises Choir of Taiwan along with key musicians from the PEI Symphony, all under the director of Taiwanese conductor Wang Tzu-Cheng.

Founded in 2001, the Dream Lotus Insightful Praises Choir began performing across the major cities of their native Taiwan from Taipei to Kaohsiung. As their reputation grew the choir ventured to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, and then across the Pacific Ocean to North America. Their performances have earned positive reviews globally, and their meditative and spiritual messages have succeeded in moving tens of thousands of audiences from all walks of life.Dream Lotus Choir

This concert will be presented by PEI’s Moonlight International Foundation, a local non-profit organization created for the purpose of relieving suffering to bring happiness to all. The Foundation regularly donates to food banks and the local Salvation Army, purchasing unmarketable fresh vegetables from local farmers, and in the winter new winter coats and snow boots from China. The Foundation also maintains and operates the Buffaloland Park and a farm sanctuary here in PEI.

Traditional Chinese music is the essence of Chinese culture, embodying its’ unique cultural and spiritual heritage. The music and lyrics of the Dream Lotus Choir are mostly composed by Master Zhen-Ru, founder of the Moonlight International Foundation. With all her work, Master Zhen-Ru seeks to inspire spiritual growth and unconditional happiness for people of different cultures. “I hope my music is like a bridge that brings cross-cultural harmony and peace,” she explained after her first successful concert here in PEI in 2012. Her compositions are richly expressed through a blend of traditional Chinese and western musical instruments, featuring beautiful melodies articulated by both the choir and instrumentalists; melodies that transmit a deep spirituality imbued with Confucian philosophy.

The PEI Symphony is honoured to perform with the wonderful Dream Lotus Choir from Taiwan, as part of their major North American tour this summer. The choir is also performing in Toronto and New York City. This concert is sure to be a key cultural event in PEI this summer.

All proceeds from this production will support the Moonlight Foundation’s activities and charitable causes. Tickets start from $25.00 with discounts available for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased through the Confederation Centre of the Arts website and boxoffice.

The concert begins at 3:30pm!



PEI Symphony AGM 2014

PEISO logo

The Prince Edward Island Symphony Society will be holding it’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 9th at 6pm, at Park Royal United Church which is located at 11 Christie Drive in Charlottetown.

Please come to the side door off the parking lot, not the sanctuary entrance – and look for the room on the right at the top of the stairs.

The agenda will include a review of the audited financial performance from the 2013-2014 season, as well as a set of proposed updates to the bylaws including proposed changes to the length of executive terms.  The AGM for our 2014-2015 year will be held in July this year.

Anyone interested in the PEI Symphony is welcome to attend either or both meetings.

An ‘awe full’ performance in April

“I like Professor Dacher Keltner’s definition of the word: “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” Recent studies have reported that, of all the positive emotions, the experience of awe has the most profound effect on our well-being. Nature is a good source—there’s the ocean, the night sky, mountains, lightning, the northern lights—and art is another, whether visual art, dance or music. Which brings me to the final PEI Symphony Orchestra performance of this season, “The Passion of Sibelius.”  

Ivy Wigmore of our local arts paper The Buzz was at our concert last month at the Zion Presbyterian Church, to hear our Maestro Mark Shapiro lead our PEI Symphony Orchestra through a beautiful performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 the “Jupiter”.   The packed crowd showed their appreciation with the first of two standing ovations that afternoon, on their way to the lobby to reserve their subscriptions for our 2015-2016 season.

As great as the Mozart sounded, our orchestra came back for the second act with a truly breathtaking, emotive and gorgeous performance of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 bringing the audience again to their feat for another ovation.   As Ivy explains:

“Standing ovations are so common these days that they’ve lost currency, but you can still gauge audience response from the speed with which people rise. This performance produced a fast standing O, people clapped hard and there were even some shouts. After the extended applause finally died out, a friend sitting next to me turned to say, “My heart is just pounding!”

There were tears in her eyes—and something else… I think you’d have to call it awe.”

Applause for the PEISO
Applause for the PEISO – April 2015

Read Ivy’s full review in the May edition of The Buzz, or online at

In memory of Dan St. Amand

Our PEI Symphony family along with the entire wider music community here in PEI is terribly saddened by the recent death of our trumpet leader and friend Dan St. Amand.

Dan. St. Amand
PEISO Principal Trumpet Dan St. Amand

Dan was an incredibly talented musician, educator, friend and mentor to so many and his contribution to our music community be greatly missed.

The funeral will be held in the chapel at the Belvedere Funeral Home on Wednesday May 6 at 10am, with a visitation Tuesday May 5, from 4 to 7pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations to UPEI Music Department would be appreciated.  A music student scholarship will be arranged in Dan’s memory.

Not only was Dan our principal trumpet leader for decades but he was equally important to the University of PEI Music Program, to music education here in PEI, the jazz scene and even a prized special guest for pop bands like Paper Lions and so many more.

PEISO Board Member and Orchestra Liaison Maggie Lillo has known Dan for many years:

“Dan’s contribution to music in PEI can’t begin to be measured. So many lives touched, so many students inspired, so many friendships forged and so very many notes played together. His loss leaves a hole in the very centre of our orchestra.”

Dan St. Amand performing with PEISO April 2015PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro conducted Dan with the orchestra just a few weeks ago, as they performed a beautiful rendition of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.  Over the weekend Maestro Shapiro payed tribute to Dan’s great musicality:

“Heartbroken to learn this morning of the sudden passing of Prince Edward Island Symphony principal trumpet player Dan St. Amand. When we performed together in PEI just 3 weeks ago Dan looked great, and was luminous and upbeat. He played beautifully too, with vitality, depth of feeling, and a seemingly effortless technical control. Dan brought such a positive energy to PEISO. He was an ideal musical partner.”

Our principal clarinetist and recent Guest Conductor Karem J Simon also wrote very eloquently about Dan’s passing:

“A passionate musician, his commitment to each and every performance project was total. He mentored many young PEI musicians, including those at UPEI. Indeed, the UPEI Wind Symphony was among those ensembles that he absolutely cherished, taking on lead and subordinate roles as required. During his final performance with that ensemble his flugelhorn solo was compelling and captured the sorrow and anguish of Rufford Park Poachers.

And then, just a week later, his principal trumpet artistry, as a member of the PEI Symphony Orchestra, was critical to the heroic climax in Sibelius Symphony No.2. I count myself among those that came to know and love this kind, generous, complex, multi-dimensional man.

A pillar of the PEI music community, he will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.”

Dan St. Amand with PEISO receiving standing ovation - April 2015
Dan St. Amand with PEISO receiving standing ovation – April 2015