In The News

Virtual Cows & Classics Returns June 28, 2021!

Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s unique annual concert in the country is back with some fun new twists!


Media Release: Stratford, Ontario, May 15, 2021 –

Well known as a small-city orchestra that makes a huge impression, the Stratford Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is excited to announce that Cows & Classics, one of the community’s favourite annual music outreach events, will be broadcast starting Monday, June 28, 2021 at 7:30 pm.

Each year, Cows & Classics features a remarkable roster of talented musicians from Stratford and surrounding area. Cows & Classics ‘21 has a country fair twist that will include special guest artists The Bookends - a favourite local Celtic band; actor and improvisor Rebecca Northan; singer-songwriter Hannah Thomas; musical theatre star Chloe Weir; Full House Brass quintet; Horns a Plenty horn octet; internationally-acclaimed flute player Liesel Deppe joined by clarinetist, Peter Shackleton; SSO Principal Cellist Patrick Theriault; and SSO’s award-winning harpist Rose Soenen will take you on a musical harp world tour - from Ireland to France to Argentina.

What’s different this year? The entire event will be filmed by internationally-acclaimed Ballinran Entertainment and broadcast on, Canada’s subscription video-on-demand platform for the arts.

Second, this year’s event will be emceed by acclaimed actor, improviser, theatre director, and creative artist, Rebecca Northan. Rebecca is well known to Stratford Festival and Spontaneous Theatre audiences.

Third, there will be several mini-events happening throughout the course of the main concert event.  A variety of artists and artisans from the area will display their remarkable creations and talents, including Stonetown Cheese, Monforte Dairy, Black Donelly’s Brewing Company, metal artists Murals in Metal, furniture maker Bob Hutson from Windbreak Farm, and fabric artist Brenda Krantz. As a special treat, artist Bruce Horak will create a painting on-site in real time, to be auctioned off following the event.

The day will conclude with a live beer and cheese pairing session led by Ruth Klahsen from Monforte Dairy. Audience participation at home is encouraged!

Once again, Cows & Classics is hosted by David and Annamarie Murray at their farm near Mitchell, Ontario. Each year for the past seven years, this outdoor event has attracted hundreds of visitors who come to enjoy great music, delicious treats, and a tour of the Murrays’ spectacular gardens.

From its humble beginnings as a porch concert at the Murray farm, Cows & Classics has continued to grow in every way. “I’m particularly excited about bringing together these artists and artisans,” says David Murray, “all of whom highlight some of the things that make Stratford and the surrounding area a world class destination. I’m also thrilled this event will have a global audience!”

The SSO is a professional orchestra of 50 musicians under the direction of Principal Conductor William Rowson. The Orchestra is very active in Stratford and surrounding areas performing live concerts, delivering education programs, providing music outreach services, and creating engaging music activities for all ages. Cows & Classics is one of its most unique outreach events appealing to all ages. Viewers are encouraged to make a donation in support of the Orchestra’s activities by sponsoring a Guest Artist, sponsoring the Hay Wagon Stage, or donating to have naming rights for one of the farm’s spring calves!


Details can be found at

Cows & Classics 2021 is made possible through funding by Ontario Trillium Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, RTO4 and the City of Stratford. The online concert broadcast is made possible through sponsorship from Ballinran Entertainment and Coventry Animal Hospital and will premiere Monday, June 28 at 7:30pm through


For more information contact:


Chris Sharpe, SSO Administrative Director


David Murray, SSO Office Manager




Wightman partners with Stratford Symphony to broadcast Cows & Classics Concert.

SSO event to be broadcast on Wightman’s Community TV.

Media Release: Stratford, Ontario, July 3, 2020 –

Wightman is pleased to announce a partnership with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for a broadcast of Cows & Classics, a favourite annual community music event. This year’s event, featuring internationally renowned music artists, was produced and filmed live at the David and Annamarie Murray farm by Ballinran Entertainment on June 22, 2020, without the usual live audience.

Wightman will broadcast this concert on Wightman Community TV channel 6 on Thursday, July 9 at 9:00 pm and again on Saturday, July 11, at 6:00 pm.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Stratford Symphony Orchestra for the Cows & Classics broadcast, and we look forward to sharing this unique content with our community,” said Marketing Manager Hope Reidt.

The performers for this music event include operatic stars Roger Honeywell, James Westman, and Phillip Addis, all accompanied by pianist Emily Hamper; musical theatre stars Marcus Nance, Franklin Brasz and Barbara Fulton; pianist and composer Paul Shilton; the SSO’s principal horn Andrew MacDonald with international flautist Liesel Deppe; solo violinist Ji Won Baxter, SSO member and winner of the Emerging Artist Competition; Stephen Russell, renowned actor formerly with the Stratford Festival for over 35 years; and David Murray on piano. The musical performances take place on the Hay Wagon Stage in a unique rural setting.

Wightman, a family-owned company founded in 1908, specializes in Fibre to the Home and Business technology, capable of providing multiple gigabit internet speeds, as well as high definition TV service with the latest user features, and home phone service. Wightman is currently constructing Fibre to the Home and Business throughout Stratford.

The SSO is a professional orchestra of 50 musicians under the direction of Principal Conductor, William Rowson. Now looking forward to its 16th season, the SSO is very active in Stratford and surrounding areas performing live concerts, delivering education programs, providing music outreach services, and creating engaging music activities for all ages. For more information, visit

Cows & Classics is produced by Ballinran Entertainment, a Stratford-based film and television production company, that has been producing content for audiences around the world for 25 years. “We are pleased to be working with the Stratford Symphony to bring this project to the screen,” says Director and Producer Craig Thompson. “Stratford has a wealth of musical and theatrical talent, who like us, choose to live here and want to share their creativity with the world. This project shines the spotlight on Stratford when our community needs it the most.”


For more information contact:

Hope Reidt, Marketing Manager 

Chris Sharpe, SSO Administrative Director

Stratford Symphony Orchestra concert set to bring 'Darkness Into Light' more than two years later


A Stratford Symphony Orchestra concert filmed more than two years ago feels eerily prescient today.


Entitled ‘Darkness Into Light’, the theme was chosen because the works performed were inspired and informed by a period of turbulence. Local production company Ballinran Entertainment was there to gather footage for a short promotional video and ended up filming the entire show at Stratford’s Avondale United Church.


When a global pandemic forced the orchestra to cancel its final two shows of the 2019-20 season, the decision was made to stream that March 31, 2018 performance on Mother’s Day.


Read the full story in the May 6, 2020 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Annual Phantom Ball fundraiser a COVID-friendly way to support the Stratford Symphony Orchestra


It was never intended to be an event that could be held during a viral pandemic, but the Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s annual Phantom Ball fundraiser is a COVID-friendly way to support the organization during the coronavirus crisis.


Read the full story in the April 19, 2020 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Cape Breton's Natalie MacMaster to perform in concert with Stratford Symphony Orchestra


Cape Breton fiddler and step-dancer Natalie MacMaster will perform with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra at the Avon Theatre in Stratford on January 25, 2020.

Read the full story in the December 20, 2019 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Stratford Symphony Orchestra announces lineup for 15th anniversary season


The Stratford Symphony Orchestra has announced the six concerts, from October through May, that will make up its 15th season.


Read the full story in the May 22, 2019 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

What's Up Stratford?


David Murray from the Stratford Symphony Orchestra joins host Peter Maranger to talk about their upcoming season (Season 15) and some of the big name performers coming to play with the orchestra.


View the interview in its entirety on Rogers TV, What's up Stratford April 2019.

Stratford Cracks Top-10 Culture Days List


Stratford has once again been recognized for its Culture Days excellence.


The organizing body behind the annual nationwide event recently released its top-10 lists of cities and towns from this fall’s festivities and the Festival City was ranked eighth in the population under 50,000 category. Eileen Smith, regional Culture Days co-ordinator, said it’s no surprise Stratford made the list.


Read the full story in the November 12, 2018 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Province To Honour Stratford Senior


Eleanor Kane is a member of the Volunteer committee and longstanding supporter of the SSO. We are thrilled at this recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the City of Stratford.


Read the full story in the November 4, 2018 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Culture Day Hits Right Note


The goal of Culture Days is to make the arts accessible to everyone and to offer new experiences.


An event called Conduct Us, hosted by the Stratford Symphony Orchestra Saturday afternoon at the Normal School, accomplished this feat. It attracted an intrigued group of people who had little-to-no experience waving a baton and leading a collection of talented musicians. 


Read the full story in the September 30, 2018 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Stratford Symphony Orchestra Unveils 14th Season


With six concerts and a diverse slate of guest performers and conductors planned for the worship hall at Avondale United Church, the Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s 14th season is sure to have something for everyone.

Read the full story in the May 18, 2018 edition of the Stratford Beacon Herald.

Classical music at rural setting a unique fundraiser


When the Stratford Symphony Orchestra board of directors was looking for a new fundraiser four years ago, board member David Murray quickly offered up his and his wife Annamarie’s farm just outside Mitchell as a possible venue to showcase local musical talent.


Read the full story in the July 11, 2016 edition of The Mitchell Advocate.


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