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Making the saxophone a household name in classical music

The Prairie Saxophone Initiative premieres on their Going for Baroque cross-provincial tour, which includes Saskatoon and North Battleford.

NORTH BATTLEFORD — Canada’s newest saxophone duo will be touring across the Prairies’ major cities and towns between July 5 and July 17. Together, Winnipeg-based Matthew Robinson, and Saskatchewan-based Chinley Hinacay hope to make the saxophone a household name in the world of classical music.

When you think of the term “classical music,” the saxophone might be the last instrument to come to mind but two up-and-coming musicians are attempting to change that. Canadian saxophone duo, the Prairie Saxophone Initiative (PSI), will be embarking on their inaugural cross-provincial tour: Going for Baroque. The tour is aimed at raising awareness for the saxophone as a classical instrument and allowing youths an opportunity to hear high-level chamber music at no cost.

“Growing up, neither of us had any idea that the saxophone was a viable classical instrument that is capable of such expressivity and virtuosity outside of the realms of pop and jazz,” said Chinley Hinacay, one of the members of PSI. “I think a big reason that people don’t correlate classical music with the instrument is due to the lack of representation in the genre. You always hear about violins, clarinets, and trumpets being called in for solo or chamber performances but never the saxophone.”

The first Saskatchewan recital is in Saskatoon July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Emmanuel Anglican Church in Saskatoon, followed by a 2 p.m. Recital at Third Avenue United Church in North Battleford, where guest accompanist and fellow saxophone player Cole Knutson will join them.

General admission for the shows starts at $20 with discounted rates for university students and free admission for youths under 18. All proceeds from this tour will go towards PSI’s annual composition project where Canadian composers of underrepresented groups are commissioned to write a substantial work for two saxophones. Tickets can be accessed by visiting

The Performers

Chinley Hinacay

Chinley Hinacay is an accomplished young conductor and saxophonist, he is steadily making himself known throughout Western Canada. Earning degrees from the University of Calgary (M.Mus) and the University of British Columbia (B.Mus), Chinley dedicates himself to cultivating the musical potential of Canada and raising awareness for the fine arts.

Chinley is currently the Artistic Director of the North Battleford City Kinsmen Band and the Calgary Youth Wind Ensemble. Chinley has also led multiple ensembles throughout Calgary and the Greater Vancouver Area as director, assistant conductor, and guest conductor. These ensembles include the Calgary Wind Symphony, the Vancouver Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vancouver Pops Orchestra. Chinley has also acted as the former director of Red Deer College’s Symphonic Winds and ensemble director of the Shangyin School of Music.

In addition to his conducting, Chinley is also an award-winning saxophonist, achieving first place medals in the 2018 Canadian Music Competition and the 2017 National Music Festival, awarded second place in the Friends of Chamber Music Competition, and was a semi-finalist at the 2019 Stepping Stones Competition. Employed as a clinician, performer, and teacher throughout the Prairies, Chinley strives to maintain a high standard throughout his performances and teachings. He has been instructed by some of North America’s premier saxophone pedagogues and has participated in masterclasses by Kenneth Tse, Otis Murphy, and Frederick Hemke, and Tim Mcallister.

Matthew Robinson

Matthew Robinson holds degrees from the University of Manitoba (B.Mus.) and the University of British Columbia (M.Mus.) in saxophone performance. His achievements include winning the 2015 UofM Concerto competition, the 2016 Adam N. Leckie Memorial Trophy, first place in winds at the 2018 Canadian Music Competition finals, and most recently first place in the American Protege International Concerto Competition.

Matthew has performed as a soloist with both the University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, as well as in venues throughout North America, including Carnegie Hall. Matthew is currently a performing member of the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble, The Exchange Quartet, and the Prairie Saxophone Initiative.

Guest Performer

Cole Knutson

Cole Knutson is pursuing a doctoral degree at the Royal College of Music in London, in collaboration with the Oxford Lieder Festival. He is a recent graduate of the master’s program in piano accompaniment at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Previously, he completed a bachelor’s degree in classical saxophone performance.

Knutson was the winner of the 2021 Delius Society Prize, a component of the London Song Festival Competition, of the 2020 English Song Prize at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and of the 2020 Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform.

In 2017, he was awarded Second Prize at the National Music Festival of Canada following his Carnegie Hall debut. He has received support through Métis Nation Saskatchewan, the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, Art Song Foundation of Canada, and others.

Knutson is the son of Leslie and Theresa Knutson of North Battleford.

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