Sounds and Stories

SSO To Go | February Concert Preview by William Rowson


SSO Music Director and Principal Conductor William Rowson gives a preview of the two SSO To Go Concerts premiering online in February 2021:  'Greensleeves', and 'Harmoniemusik'.

Meet Our Musicians | Laurel Swinden


We're thrilled to have Laurel Swinden, SSO Principal Flute (and a self-confessed 'flute nerd') as a featured performer in our SSO To Go digital concert 'Greensleeves.' In the concert, Laurel performs on a wooden baroque flute alongside guest performer Terry McKenna on lute.


A self-confessed “flute nerd," Canadian flutist Laurel Swinden has been praised for her "sweet and distinct tone… breathtaking in colour" (Whole Note). Dr. Swinden embraces a multi-faceted career as a recitalist, orchestral musician, pedagogue, clinician and music scholar.


Not daunted by any musical challenge, Laurel is equally at home with 18th century through 21st century repertoire, whether it be a premiere of a contemporary electroacoustic work, new arrangements for flute with brass, standards of the flute repertoire, works for piccolo, alto and bass flute, eighteenth-century Scottish works on traverso and keyed flutes, or Irish and Scottish flute tunes. She says: “If it's great music, it's worthy of playing!”

Meet Our Musicians | Terry McKenna


Terry McKenna is an acclaimed musician, composer, and teacher, based in Stratford, Ontario. He is a Lute player and Baroque guitarist, and we're thrilled to have him as a Guest Artist in two of our SSO To Go digital concerts. The sounds of his authentic lute and baroque guitar performances in true 17th century style are sure to bring you much delight!


Mr. McKenna performs a wide range of musical styles on period and modern guitars and lutes. He has performed and recorded with many groups such as The Toronto Consort, Ensemble Polaris, Puirt a Baroque and The Stratford Festival. When he is not on various musical voyages, he maintains a busy performing career playing chamber and solo concerts; CD, theatre and television recording; arranging and composing. He can also be found teaching the guitar and lute to students at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Meet Our Musicians | Laurel and Kevin Swinden


SSO Principal Conductor and Music Director William Rowson speaks virtually to musicians Laurel Swinden (SSO Principal Flute) and Kevin Swinden (SSO Co-principal Trumpet) about what they're working on musically and otherwise these days.


This is Claudia Broadgood from my FLAPPER GOLDENSHOES (2017).


 She’s a philanthropist and the anonymous sponsor of promising young athletes around the globe who have dreams of becoming Olympians.


Her family in Alaska left her a vast fortune from their gold prospecting. The sort of benefactor the SSO and all Stratford’s other arts organizations could certainly benefit from.

Meet an SSO Volunteer | James Colbeck


I’ve been kept quite busy since February when I was recruited to help write up the biographies of the Symphony’s family of musicians. What a rewarding, inspiring, and challenging involvement  this has been. As one of this team of three volunteers currently processing the 50 musicians who are presently on the roster, it has been a delight to hear the stories which define these marvellous people as “the person(s) behinds the instrument(s)” in addition to being the musical artists they are. The love they ave shared for what they do with the Symphony and their admiration of Bill Rowson and each one as energized me to move onto the next.  Exciting and exhilarating, with lots of laughs along the way. I am personally indebted to those I have worked with for their generosity of patience, time and spirit.


Parallelling that writing marathon is another: the  on-going writing of my third kids adventure novel featuring protagonists internationally celebrated investigative reporter Percy Pierpont and  his best buddy and sidekick, multi-ward-winning photographer Hogey Truffles, the incomparable team from my first two novels, THE GREAT PEANUT CAPER and FLAPPER GOLDENSHOES. I am currently working away at Chapter 44 of RHAH’S REVENGE.


One other thing I have been doing since February is coordinating a fundraising bottle drive on behalf of and through the teamwork of the St. James’ Anglican Church’s Green Gang and Men’s Breakfast group to raise money to help send a number of youngsters to the Huron Church Camp up on Lake Huron near Bayfield. Those children who benefit from such assistance each year come from families not able to make such a joyous summer week-long ‘adventure’ possible for their children (@ $575.00 each). The ‘down’ side of this is the Ontario Government’s announcement, because of COVID -19, any camps with a sleep-over component will not be allowed to open. That means no Huron Church Camp this year. The ‘up’ side is the agreement by all to continue with our bottle and can collecting through the coming months, earmarking all those funds generated for this same purpose. Our prayer is that we’ll be able to send even more youth to the Camp in 2021.

Meet Our Musicians | John Krisak, cello:

"Whenever I'm not making music or doing theatre, I'm either sailing or thinking about sailing. My boat is normally in the water from the first week of May until the last week of October. Every summer for the past 25 years I have spent at least 2 weeks, often more, sailing among the Greek Islands. You can see where my mind is at."

Meet Our Musicians | Kaye Royer, clarinet:

Kaye Royer, Principal Clarinet, introduces herself, and shares what's on her mind during COVID19 isolation at home.

Meet the SSO


Celebrating its 15th season in 2019-2020 the Stratford Symphony is an orchestra made up of professional musicians from across southwestern Ontario who play full concerts several times a year as well as small ensemble cushion concerts and other special events for children throughout the year.


Few North American cities of Stratford's size can boast an orchestra as accomplished as the Stratford Symphony.  The SSO is an integral player in Stratford's arts and culture scene.  Founded in 2004, the SSO presents an annual season of live performances of classical and contemporary music, with a special emphasis on Canadian composers.

Principal conductor and music director William Rowson oversees an orchestra of professional musicians drawn from across southwestern Ontario to perform Canadian and international works in front of packed houses.

Season 15 Overview

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 15th Anniversary Season in 2019-20!

The abbreviated (by COVID-19) season featured four diverse concerts as well as fundraising events like Classical Brunches at Revival House, along with the free Cushion Concert series for families in partnership with the Stratford Public Library.


This video was filmed during the SSO's March 31, 2018, concert featuring music by Beethoven, with Ji Won Baxter playing Kabalevsky's Violin Concerto.

The SSO was founded as the Stratford Civic Orchestra in 2004 by educator and arts manager Yootha Neller, whose goal was to establish a fine orchestra within the Stratford community to present excellent performances with a broad stylistic range. The orchestra draws musicians from throughout southern Ontario, including Kitchener, London and Toronto, as well as from the Stratford area, home to many musicians, actors and other artists drawn to the area by its rich and diverse cultural community. In 2009 the orchestra changed its name to Stratford Symphony Orchestra (SSO) to reflect its growing reputation for musical excellence.

Classical Brunch

February 9, 2020


Syrian Serenade -  A musical experience from the Stratford Symphony Orchestra's Classical Brunch series. Enjoy this performance of Syrian folk songs with Samir Azar on oud, Jawad Azar on buzuq and percussion and Rouba Nazir Battikh on vocals. In addition to being a musician, Samir Azar is also an accomplished luthier and handcrafted all of the instruments used in this concert. Rouba is a poet and artist. Jawad is an accomplished photographer.

Cows & Classics

June 23, 2019


The Full House Brass Quintet brought the house down at SSO’s 2019 Cows & Classics Fundraiser.

Cows & Classics

June 23, 2019


Vocalist Chloe Weir charmed the audience, performing 'The Girl in 14G' in the the SSO’s 2019 Cows & Classics Concert Fundraiser.

Cows & Classics

June 23, 2019


Soprano Sydney Harvey thrilled the audience at the Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s Cows & Classics fundraising concert at the Murray farm, accompanied by pianist David Murray.

Cows & Classics

June 24, 2018


The annual Stratford Symphony Orchestra's Cows & Classics fundraising concert had a canine guest vocalist! Geisha, the dog who loves to sing, is accompanied here on piano by David Murray.

The Truth Is in the Stars

Starring William Shatner


Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D Major "Titan" (movement IV, Sehr Gesangvol) recorded at Knox Presbyterian Church, Stratford, Ontario and featured in the William Shatner documentary "The Truth Is in the Stars". The film follows William Shatner on a quest to discover where humanity will be in the era of Star Trek, 250 years from now.


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