Unable to stage concerts due to the COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing rules, the Music Niagara Festival is launching a free, new At Home series.
For 22 years, the festival has brought world-class, diverse music experiences to intimate settings in Niagara-on-the-Lake each summer.
The innovative virtual At Home Concert Series and creative At Home virtual Performance Academy have been created to “entertain, educate and inspire,” said festival spokesperson Karen Lade.
The series starts July 26 and full details are on the Music Niagara website, www.musicniagara.org. While all performances are free, the festival welcomes donations.
“Our At Home series provides the essence of what we planned for 2020 before the pandemic,” Lade said in a news release.
“We were set to announce more than 30 concerts, new venues and exciting new programming ideas. The 2020 festival planned a new Music and Laughter series including Quartetto Gelato with Joe Pillitteri and a program to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday including inspirational performances by our own artistic director Atis Bankas with one of Russia’s significant pianists, Victoria Kogan.”
Now, “Music Niagara will still bring these performances, along with the spirit of our 2020 season, through our new virtual At Home series,” Lade said.
Several performances will be filmed by Niagara College’s broadcasting team at Château des Charmes, PondView Estate Winery, the museum and Queen's Landing.
Among the special performances are Emma Meinrenken (violin) performing with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, clarinetist James Campbell’s production of “From Beethoven to Brazil: A Joyous Musical Journey” and the production of the Last Night of the Proms performed by members of the Niagara Proms Orchestra, conducted by Sabatino Vacca and hosted by British comedian David Green.
The festival also will celebrate Beethoven’s milestone birthday with Tom Allen’s production of the The Missing Pages — the story of the only Canadian who met Ludwig van Beethoven — and also Bankas’ musical performance of Beethoven’s Hair. That musical performance is an homage to the book of the same name, an astonishing tale of one lock of hair and its amazing travels from 19th-century Vienna to 21st-century America.
The At Home lineup will also include virtual performances by international festival musicians from New York, Amsterdam and Lithuania who were scheduled to perform this summer.
The At HomePerformance Academy features a new online curriculum designed to “broaden and enhance each student’s personal musical journey, turning young musicians into polished performers with a lifelong appreciation of the arts,” Lades said. Behind-the-scenes performances and footage from the Young Virtuous (ages 8-18) program also will be available.
If you miss the show, recordings of all shows except The Missing Pages will be available on the Music Niagara website and YouTube channel afterward.