A Rolling Stone article from a couple of months ago, “When Will Live Music Return?” by Jon Blistein and Ethan Millman, points out it’s been a “bruising 10 months of COVID shutdown. Live music businesses – not to mention artist and fans – are hoping concerts and tours can return in the spring of 2021. But is that a pipe dream?”
In fact it probably is with most major tours cancelled for another year and regional events, such as the Ness Creek Festival cancelled for a second year in a row. Hopefully the headline “Empty Rows and Musicians Behind Shields Could be the Future of Live Music” from last July in a CTV article by Meredith MacLeod is not the long-term forecast with vaccinations rolling out.
“In many places, bands are being asked to keep the decibels down, over concerns about loud singing projecting particles and patrons having to talk closer or shout to be heard” is our current reality unfortunately.
We have all become accustomed to signing guest books for COVID-19 tracing purposes in restaurants, theatres and venues. “Drive-in concerts, where fans stay in their cars, are the new rage. Restaurants are hiring bands to play from balconies and rooftops, solo acts and ensembles are heading off to driveways, lawns and porches for private concerts” are some of the creative solutions live artists have discovered.
“Many of Canada’s orchestras are too big to come together to perform under pandemic gathering restrictions, never mind adding an audience.”
Also, a truth for COVID times and live music, “livestreams have provided much entertainment and relief in times of uncertainty, but can’t replace either the social or economic impact of in-person shows.”
On a personal level for many youths in our community, COVID has impacted school band programs and how private lessons are conducted safely. Many of us identify with the statement regarding human experience in a CTV article, “Whether it’s playing music together or being there for a live performance, it’s an intensely emotional and social experience.”
According to scientific studies, “when people move in time to music together, it boosts their sense of trust and willingness to co-operate with each other.”
The 2021 Battlefords Music Festival currently plans to continue with livestreamed performances from the Dekker Centre stage. If public health restrictions tighten further, students will likely still have the opportunity to indulge in a professional stage performance, even if recorded one performance at a time. The festival is excited to be happening and will adapt if warranted. Many festivals in southern Saskatchewan have already been impacted, but the Battlefords festival is a few weeks away yet so the hope is to be able to stick with current plans.
So yes, there are many COVID safety restrictions to navigate, but there are many positives to celebrate. After festival award winners are determined, gala performances will be pre-recorded on Tuesday, April 27.
The festival will run from Monday, April 19 through Saturday, April 24. Voice, speech arts, and musical theatre can be viewed over two days, April 19 and 20 with vocal adjudicator, Chris Kelly. Instrumental performances will all take place on Wednesday, April 21 with instrumental adjudicator Mark Preece.
Piano entries span three days, Thursday, April 22 though Saturday, April 24 with piano adjudicator Janet Tieck. Keeping in mind travel restrictions this year, all three adjudicators are from Saskatchewan.
Anyone interested in being a festival volunteer can talk to any Committee member or email email@example.com.
– Jimmy Heath (1926 – 2020)