The Soundcheck program at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

By: Casey Challes

The WInnipeg Symphony Orchestra presents Messiah at the Centennial Concert Hall on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Messiah is a holiday tradition at the WSO. Photographed on Nov. 26, 2019./CASEY CHALLES

For the next 2 ½ weeks, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) will be celebrating the holidays with Tim Burton, Handel, a snowman and New York Voices; and full-time RRC students can buy a ticket for $15.

The Soundcheck Program at the WSO has been around for about 15 years. The WSO’s 4,000 Soundcheck members can purchase tickets to any regular season concert at the Symphony for $15. Full-time post-secondary students or people ages 15 to 30 can sign up for Soundcheck online.

Kristen Einarson was a Soundcheck member before graduating from Creative Communication at Red River College in 2018. Today she is responsible for running the program at the WSO in her role as Marketing & Communications Coordinator.

Kristen Einarson, 24, shows off archived posters at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra office on Nov. 26, 2019. She is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the Symphony. /CASEY CHALLES

Einarson, 24, comes from a musical family. Her mother is a piano teacher; her older sister is a singer, keyboardist, guitar player and piano teacher; and her younger sister is a jazz drummer studying music therapy. Einarson wants young people to love classical music as much as she does.

“I feel like when people learn little tidbits, they’re like ‘that is so cool,’” said Einarson.

For example, composer Johannes Brahms’ unrequited love for pianist Clara Schumann. When Brahms wrote Symphony No. 3,  he instructed the musicians to play it “free but lonely.”

“When people hear that they’re like ‘Oh my god, I’m free but lonely,’” said Einarson.

Daniel Tompkins, 27, has been attending the WSO as a Soundcheck member for three years. He’s a student at the University of Winnipeg.

“I signed up because of the Harry Potter screenings,” said Tompkins. “And, of course, because there is nothing like a live orchestra.”

The WSO will present Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert on April 4 and 5, 2020. The Symphony presents a Harry Potter film annually and the orchestra plays the soundtrack live.

Einarson said that lining up the live music to the movie is tricky. The orchestra will play the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas this weekend at the Centennial Concert Hall. It is the first holiday concert in the WSO’s 2019/2020 season.

The second concert, Handel’s Messiah, will be performed on December 7th. It is a holiday tradition at the WSO featuring soloists, the CMU Festival Chorus and the Hallelujah chorus.

Last year Tompkins saw Messiah with his family and gifted tickets to his parents. As a Soundcheck member, he was able to get a second ticket for $29.50.

A piano-forte once owned by Austrian composer Johann Hummel is displayed in the reception area at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra office on Nov. 26, 2019. /CASEY CHALLES

For more information on the WSO’s holiday shows and the Soundcheck Program, visit