ESTEVAN - The Carnduff and District Music Festival is staying true to its core goals and is showcasing participants' performances on video through their Facebook page to ensure talent doesn't go unnoticed.
Pamela Dmytriw, the festival board president, said the previous experience with a virtual showcase was successful and they had to make a decision well in advance for this year, so they opted for the online format.
"We found great success with it last year. And we really enjoyed seeing all the kids' performances, when we couldn't get together. And in January, we made the decision to go this route again, just because everything was a little up in the air. And we weren't sure what the regulations would be like, and how that would affect our community,” said Dmytriw.
“So instead of having a live festival this year, we made the decision to go with a showcase again for another year, and still honour the music and arts in our community, but give the kids that opportunity to perform if there was a chance that we weren't going to be able to do that live.”
They had a bit of a slow start, but now they see more and more entries coming every day. The virtual event will keep showcasing local talent through the entire month of March, offering many opportunities to share the progress and also win some prizes.
"This week, there's been lots of people who have been linking their YouTube videos to our page. So it's a really good start," Dmitriw said last Thursday.
There is no entry fee and no limit to how many times a performer can participate. Every performer will receive a certificate. Besides, all participants who submit their videos are entered into a weekly draw, which occurs every Thursday, and have even more opportunities to win at the end.
"Each week, the participants from that week get entered into a draw for a $50 gift certificate from our local community. And then at the end, we will put everyone back into the draw. If they perform three or more times throughout the month, they will be eligible for another $50 gift certificate. And then otherwise, we'll be putting them all in a draw for $25 gift certificates," Dmitriw noted.
"It's a great opportunity to get that performance factor that we have been missing the last couple of years. And we encourage them to try to do a performance each week, rather than do a whole bunch right at the end. Either way, though, we accept all entries. And this just gives them an opportunity to have that experience of making a performance and having an audience view it."
Young local musicians and artists are invited to record their performances so that they can be shared on the festival's Facebook page for all to enjoy. Those willing to partake do not need to have participated in past festivals and there is no age limit for those who'd like to perform.
"We would like to showcase all disciplines, and welcome entries from all musical genres, speech arts, etc.," the board said on the festival's Facebook page.
Dmitriw added that they hope for a variety, but so far they tend to receive more piano entries due to circumstances.
"Our performances, especially for the showcase, end up being more piano partly because of the way that COVID has affected our teachers," Dmitriw said. "In our area, we currently don't have a vocal teacher, and we don't have fiddle or guitar teachers. Kids can still take lessons virtually, but we find that there's just less of that with what's happened."
With restrictions being lifted now, it was decided to also have a live event on April 11 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Carnduff Royal Canadian Legion Hall. Anyone who performs during the showcase virtually can also enter to perform live. Participants can pick one of their pieces and showcase it during the event, where they will also receive their certificates and gift cards if they won.
"Every year, we usually have a strawberry tea before the festival, which allows students the opportunity to perform live on the stage before they get on stage during the festival. So this takes that format, but it also takes our highlights concert, which we would normally do after the festival and highlight our award winners, and it kind of blends them together to create this live showcase that we're going to do this year," Dmitriw explained.
The festival organizers do ask that performers and those helping them to record the videos ensure that they post recordings to an unlisted YouTube channel, then share the link to their page and tag @Carnduff & District Music & Arts Festival. They also ask to include in the post the title of the piece and the author(s)/composer(s).
"We know that everyone is eager to get back to live performances, but we are still very excited to hear from past performers, and maybe some new faces. Please join us in celebrating music and the arts, for the month of March," the board said.
Dmitriw added that their goal is to have a full-scale in-person festival next year.
"We like the ability for the kids to have adjudication and have a person who will come in and evaluate their performances and give them suggestions. And that's something that we lose when we do our showcase," Dmitriw said.
Performances could be posted starting March 1 through to the end of the month. It may take a day or two for posts to reach the page. If you have any questions about posting a performance, or if it's been a few days and you don't see your post on the page, please reach out to the organizers for help.
More information about how to register for the live showcase will be published on their Facebook page as well.
Dmitriw thanked the community for supporting local talent.
"It's been an interesting couple of years. And we look forward to the idea of having a full festival next year. And we are so thankful for our community that has still been very supportive and gave us some donations and sponsorships to help us with the awards as in previous years. We couldn't do it without the community, so we really appreciate the community that we are in," Dmitriw said.