SSO principal flutist bids a fond farewell in upcoming concert

Sarah Yunji Moon's concerto Departures before the Beethoven symphony in the April 27 concert is her last as the SSO's principal flutist.

The Saskatoon symphony Orchestra's principal flutist Sarah Yunji Moon is leaving the orchestra to take a position teaching at Queen's University. Her last concert with the orchestra is on April 27, 2019. Supplied / Photo by Julie Isaac Photography / Saskatoon

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Sarah Yunji Moon is featured in the next Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra concert in a concerto entitled Departures — a fitting name for the final piece she’ll play as a member of the ensemble.

Moon’s concerto isn’t the main draw of the SSO’s concert on April 27 — that would be the much more renowned third symphony by Beethoven, also called the Eroica symphony — but that doesn’t make her last performance as the principal flutist any less meaningful.

“I had a few friends who used to live (in Saskatoon), and when they were all telling me about how different the prairies were going to be, it almost sounded like they were describing another planet,” Moon said with a laugh. “And then I moved to Saskatoon, and I really fell in love with it.”

An accomplished flute virtuoso, Moon played professionally in other Canadian ensembles before making her way to Saskatchewan, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia. Since arriving in the city, Moon has also participated in the Ritornello Music Festival and other local concerts.

Moon came to Saskatoon in 2016 to audition for the SSO and take a position as a flute instructor at the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from Toronto, she said she’d worked and lived in several places before 2016 — but coming to Saskatoon for her orchestra audition was her first visit to the Canadian prairies.

She didn’t expect how involved she’d feel in the community, now that it’s time for her to head off for her next endeavour.

“The support that I got from the community and the audience was amazing,” she said.

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Moon took a position as a lecturer at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. which she admitted will probably mean a bit less playing in ensembles and more of a role as a teacher.

Despite heading back to her home province, Moon said she’s sad to be leaving Saskatoon behind. As a member of the orchestra, she said she was impressed by the “overwhelming” support for the arts she experienced in the city.

Her last concert on April 27 will open with Beethoven’s Contradances for orchestra before the concerto Departures by Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, which was described on the SSO’s website as having “elements of traditional Japanese folk music, blues and burlesque music.”

The concert closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major, also known as the Eroica or “Heroic” Symphony. Easily one of Beethoven’s greatest compositions, it’s quite the hero’s farewell for Moon, whether it was intended that way or not.

Moon said she hopes to come back to play with the SSO in the future, and she’s leaving the prairies with fond memories of a city that once upon a time was like another planet.

“I’m sad to leave, but I feel also very lucky to have this great opportunity to connect with the audience,” she said.

maolson@postmedia.com

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