150 years of history wrapped up in Jazz Suite being performed for 1st time this weekend

150 years of stories from Saskatchewan are being brought to life for the first time this weekend. 

"Saskatchewan Suite" is a jazz orchestral piece that will be performed as part of a Regina Jazz Society special concert.

The Jazz Society commissioned composer, arranger, and performer Fred Stride to compose the piece. 

"I was a little taken aback by it," Stride said. "The whole idea is pretty overwhelming — the magnitude, the history, the culture — all of those things that should be a part of that."

The Vancouver-based composer took on the task of learning about the history of Saskatchewan. He read about the ups and downs, the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and more. 

"There was so much to kind of sort out because you can't possibly include everything in 60 minutes. There's just so much there," he said. 

Stride decided to break the suite up into eight movements to try and cover as much as he could. That also allows future groups to play as much or as little of the suite as they want.

"The first thing I knew that I wanted to deal with is the place itself," Stride said. "The prairies, the forest, the sand dunes, all of those kinds of things."

Regina Jazz Society/Facebook

The second and third movements of the suite are about First Nations people and Europeans who settled in Saskatchewan, respectively.

There are also movements about sports, jazz and one called 'September 1905,' about Saskatchewan becoming a Canadian province. And, of course, there's a movement about Tommy Douglas.

"He touches every Canadian," Stride said. "My father passed away when I was working on this and he was a huge Tommy Douglas fan when I was growing up — So it's a tribute to both of them."

Jenn Smith Nelson

Stride said he's always been interested in history, so learning about Saskatchewan was a natural fit for him.

"Anything historical has always had a fascination for me," he said. "There are these common stories and experiences of Canadians whether they're living on the prairies. And then there are things that are unique to the prairies — that struck me."

Stride will be travelling to Regina to hear the piece debut. 22 musicians are on deck to perform the suite, including Jack Semple, Brent Ghiglione, Ed Minevich and Dave Mossing.

Submitted by Nathan Puffalt

It will be special to hear the piece for the first time in concert, especially with this group of musicians, Stride said.

"Every single one of them is somebody that I respect."

The performance is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Casino Regina.