An invitation to Eastern Europe from three Canadian women

Karen Gomyo
Keri-Lynn Wilson

A composer, a conductor and a violin soloist: allow us to introduce the amazing trio of women who are going to take you on a musical journey to the Balkans.                             

On November 9 and 12, Ana Sokolović, Keri-Lynn Wilson and Karen Gomyo will top the bill for the OSM Journey to Eastern Europe concert.


Ana Sokolović, a Montrealer by adoption, has become one of the best-known composers in Canada’s musical landscape.


The Serbian-born composer’s roots are in the Balkans, where she was immersed in ballet, theatre and piano as a child. After beginning her career as an actress and television host, she later devoted herself entirely to music. She studied composition in Belgrade before immigrating to Canada at the age of 24.

Karen Gomyo

She settled in Quebec and earned a master’s degree in composition from the University of Montreal, where she now teaches music composition.


Sokolović was convinced that she had left her European musical background on the other side of the Atlantic. “When I lived in Serbia, I didn’t want to know anything about traditional music,” she said in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “I wanted to compose real contemporary music, without reference to any society.”

Keri-Lynn Wilson

Yet, when audiences heard her early compositions of contemporary music, they congratulated her for expressing her Slavic soul. It was only then that she realized she had unconsciously incorporated Slavic rhythms and colours into her music. To her great surprise, “it was in Canada that I finally discovered my attraction to Balkan music.”


From her earliest days as a composer, the rewards have been many: the Grand Prize in the CBC/Radio Canada National Competition for Young Composers, the Opus Award for Composer of the Year, and the Juno Award for Classical Composition of the Year. In 2011, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec devoted its Homage Series to her, which led to more than 100 performances of Sokolović’s compositions across Canada.

As part of its Zoom in on Creation initiative, which is devoted to Canadian composers, the OSM, in its Journey to Eastern Europe concert, will perform one of Ana Sokolović’s recent compositions, Ringelspiel, a German word which means “merry-go-round”. This mainstay of children’s amusement parks inspired a piece in five sections. The work sometimes evokes the mechanical aspects of a merry-go-round, and sometimes the movement of a pirouetting ballerina.


With its surprising sounds and its unconventional use of certain instruments, Ringelspiel has been hugely successful since it premiered in 2013 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In this interview (in both French and English), Ana Sokolović discusses her work, which she dedicates to children around the world.

Karen Wilson

Bartók and Shostakovich conducted by a Canadian woman   

Conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson is definitely not from the Balkans (having been born in Winnipeg), but she is certainly familiar with the region. From 2013 to 2015, she was the first female chief conductor in the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra’s history.


She studied flute, violin and piano in her youth, but shifted towards conducting in her final year at the famous Juilliard School in New York City. She is now in constant demand as a guest conductor around the world. She has previously conducted Otello and The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) at the Opéra de Montréal.


Violinist Karen Gomyo was born in Japan but grew up in Montreal. She too attended Juilliard. Her brilliant career as a soloist, which began when she was only 15, would later take her around the world. For the performance, she will have her constant travelling companion with her, the remarkable 1703 Aurora ex-Foulis Stradivarius violin, on loan to her from a patron.

Karen Gomyo

In Montreal, Karen Gomyo will perform Hungarian composer Bela Bartok’s Violin Concerto no. 2. Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 9 in E flat major, op. 70 will close this Journey to Eastern Europe concert, on Thursday, November 9 at 10:30 am and Sunday, November 12, at 2:30 pm at Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Learn more about Zoom on creation