Jeffery Straker to reunite with the Symphony

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Regina musician to perform alongside full Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra

Call it a sweet reunion.

Jeffery Straker, a Saskatchewan singer-songwriter-pianist, will be playing a concert with the full Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra on October 19 at TCU Place in Saskatoon.

Straker had previously played a show alongside the Regina Symphony roughly two years ago. And he completely brought the house down.

Having released his latest album Vagabond just over a year ago, Straker has been building momentum with his demanding touring schedule, which sees him playing house concerts to Las Vegas venues.

Despite the variety, and size, of his audiences, his performances are typically intimate and moving – Straker is something of a master pop song composer. For more proof check out the video for his single “Birchbark Canoe”. Even better, make sure to listen to his song “Fall From Grace” with full orchestra, arranged by Matt McLellan of Regina.

Ominocity recently caught up with Straker for a quick chat on playing to a symphony-sized room and the success of Vagabond.

Ominocity: In some ways it seems like the Symphony is branching out with this pop series. But in terms of the music that you make it seems like a really good fit.

Jeffery Straker: When we did the show in Regina, which was almost exactly two years ago, it came about in a very organic way. I had done a tour with a Saskatchewan Arts Board Culture on the Go grant and the Symphony and I did a proposition together to tour across Saskatchewan with the RSO chamber players. We played in smaller places like Gravelbourg and Weyburn and places like that. And it was really well received. It was a bit of an experiment, but it had done so well that it was suggested that we do this with a full orchestra. There was a lot of time that led up to that show and we weren’t sure if the original success came from those performances being in small towns. But then we sold out the Conexus in Regina, which doesn’t always happen with the Symphony. So then we thought, lets take that show to Saskatoon.

OM: Let’s talk about your song “Fall From Grace” – it has a really orchestral sound to it. Is that the direction you see your songwriting going, which is in front of these audiences in larger venues?

JS: When I write I really try to make sure that every song I do can be done solo with just me and a piano. And that’s the big test because I play everything from house concerts to clubs to theatres and I do them solo. So when we were preparing for these symphony shows we chose songs of mine that would work well for those arrangements. When I write I don’t necessarily have orchestras in mind.

OM: Tell me more about your latest album Vagabond – are there any lessons that you are going to take forward from that album to your next record?

JS: I’ve been thinking a lot about the next album actually. When I wrote Vagabond I didn’t have an album in mind – I just wanted to write songs and to see what came out of those. It was also a pop record with a folk twist and it was neat to see how people received those songs. So if I take something forward from that it’s the core of piano and vocal and I always try to change that somehow. But there was something from Vagabond that I really would like to keep in my upcoming release.

Thematically a lot of things have happened in the past year. I lost a grandmother whom I was really quite close with. So there will likely be a lot of lyrics addressing relationships in the future.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY4xjMDz4A4&w=600]