Southminster United Church resumes Wednesday afternoon classical music concerts for 50-person audiences

Roland Graham, music director of Southminster United Church, started a fundraising campaign so Southminster can purchase the nine-foot Steinway grand piano. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia

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When the Doors Open for Music at Southminster series resumes Wednesday at noon at Southminster United Church, its performers, the Canto Sentimento String Quartet, will be playing in front of an audience of up to 50 people who will follow novel coronavirus guidelines.

While the concert will be livestreamed on Facebook, the church’s music director Roland Graham is still welcoming attendees, who upon arrival must complete a COVID-19 questionnaire, physically distance themselves within the church and wear masks throughout the concert. Attendees must also register online through the concert’s Eventbrite page, and a donation of $20 is recommended. The fall lineup for the church’s Wednesday lunch-hour concerts has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to be posted soon online.

Despite the pandemic, the church has managed to continue and even bolster its music program. On Monday, it took delivery of a nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano that it was able to purchase at a cost of $130,000. Donations from more than 400 people during a seven-week fundraising campaign made the purchase possible.
Other ambitious classical music series in the Ottawa area are staging or are at least pondering live concerts. The Pontiac Enchanté series in Luskville staged two concerts last weekend by pianist Philip Chiu, which drew full-capacity crowds of 25 guests, in a space that previously held more than 100, and were also livestreamed. Chamberfest will livestream concerts this fall from Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, including an Oct. 24 concert by pianist Angela Hewitt concluding her Bach Odyssey series, but will determine a week before each concert whether it will admit small audiences to Dominion-Chalmers.