COVID can't stop 73rd Pembroke Kiwanis Music Festival as event goes virtual for 2021

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While the COVID-19 pandemic is not forcing the cancellation of the 73rd Pembroke Kiwanis Music Festival , it is forcing the event to make some big changes for this year.

The annual music festival, organized by the Kiwanis Club since 1949, has been a venue for Pembroke and area youth to showcase their music talents in a theatre setting. This year, however, the Kiwanis Music Festival will take place virtually, as the event responds to the constraints required to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The traditional live performances at Festival Hall will be replaced this year by video recordings of students’ performances as computer files. In addition, this year’s event will not include duets, trios or any form of a group in order to ensure social distancing is observed, and that everyone stays in their own bubble. The clock is ticking on registration for the virtual festival with a deadline of Feb. 26. Music students then have until March 26th to submit a video of their performance (MP4 file preferred) for adjudication.

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“We had some exposure to the routine for a virtual festival when the Ontario Provincial Music Festival was cancelled in June [last year] due to COVID,” said Kiwanian Doug Fee, who is co-chairman of the Kiwanis Music Festival with Kiwanian Raghavan Vijay. “We had six students enter the (provincial) Festival and four placed. The provincial Festival held a workshop on running virtual festivals and armed with that information our committee thought it was better to continue our long tradition albeit in a very different way rather than cancel it.”

All categories in the festival – piano, instrumental, vocal, strings and dance – will all follow the same procedure. These solo recordings will be sent to carefully chosen, scholarly adjudicators. The adjudicators will then watch and listen, and assign marks, ranks and provide constructive suggestions and send these back to the festival committee. Based on the criteria established by donors, and the discretion of the committee, suitable awards and trophies and medallions will be awarded.

There will be no printed program this year but a separate website has been set up to provide information on the syllabus, adjudicators, registration, marks, awards, etc. Fee said the website will be updated as the virtual Festival continues.

The 2021 syllabus, and the instructions for the virtual festival including registration information, video requirements, fee submissions instructions, etc. are online on the Music Festival main webpage at https://bit.ly/3atkahc.

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For additional information contact Festival secretary Rhodina Turner at PembrokeFestival@gmail.com or by calling 613-559-0583.

Last year the Kiwanis Music Festival had just concluded when the pandemic was declared in Canada. However, the Festival of Stars, an evening of performances from music festival participants, was cancelled. For this year, there is some talk of putting together a virtual version of the Festival of Stars, possibly using some of the videoed performances from the virtual festival.

Fee said the virtual festival still required the usual preparation done by volunteers and was the same inasmuch as syllabus preparation, registration, contacting patrons and award sponsors. While the preparation of the festival program was not done, there was additional work with a new website and event promotion.

“The coordination of scheduling, hall set up and last minute changes required by weather will be replaced by the handling of the virtual performance files and working with the adjudicators at a distance,” Fee explained.

The members of the Pembroke Kiwanis Music Festival committee are Raghaven Vijay, co-chairman, Doug Fee, co-chairman, Rhodina Turner, secretary, Sue Seto, treasurer, Robert Lauder, Blaine Sack, Ron Lloyd, Joyce Moore-Cowan, Paula Lundrigan, Lou Schull and Mac Plaunt.

“Even though there will be fewer participants this year because of the virtual format we are quite pleased to have a smaller festival and provide a venue for our talented performers,” Fee said.

Fee said the club will be returning the Kiwanis Music Festival to its traditional venue and format as soon as it safe to do so, which hopes are, will be for the 2022 edition.

“Of course we plan next year to be back at Festival Hall. Performing in a big hall with a live audience and adjudicators is a great experience for young artists,” Fee said.

adixon@postmedia.com

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