After cancelling last year’s concert series due to COVID-19, organizers behind the Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival are bringing the event back this August using an online format.
This year’s festival will consist of six concerts and a movie screening that will be broadcast on YouTube between Aug. 8 and Aug. 21.
Just like in previous years, a variety of musicians and composers who hail from Manitoba and beyond will take centre stage, even though their performances are going to be pre-recorded this time around.
While event director Alla Turbanova admitted that this sort of presentation isn’t ideal, she said the Clear Lake festival’s usual format — which involves setting up live venues in multiple Westman communities — isn’t logistically feasible right now due to the ongoing pandemic.
"So this was very difficult, but I think it is the right decision," she said on Monday. "Because COVID has not disappeared. It’s still a danger, especially for people who are aged or have an illness."
However, Turbanova believes that this virtual format does provide some unique advantages.
For one thing, now that they are no longer bound by physical space, the Brandon University music professor is hoping that this event can expand its reach beyond those who live in and around the Westman region.
"Now the audience can be anywhere," she said. "I’m hoping it’s going to cover all of Manitoba and cover all of Canada … and even some different countries."
Turbanova and her husband, Alexander Tselyakov, originally kick-started the Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival in 2006, with the aim of making this type of music accessible to more people in Manitoba.
Every year since then, they’ve slowly accumulated a roster of nationally and internationally renowned musicians, many of whom will be making a return for the 2021 festival.
This includes pianist Daniel Tselyakov, who is teaming up with his father (Alexander) on Aug. 17 to pay tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 250th birthday took place last year.
But the 2021 Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival does have some new programming to offer beyond the completely virtual presentation.
According to host Paul Shore, this year’s event will put a much bigger emphasis on choreographed dance, with performer Kathleen Hiley set to open up and close out the festival.
Shore said that he is particularly looking forward to Hiley’s take on the choreography of 19th century dancer Isadora Duncan, especially since she got to play around with some creative editing and camera angles thanks to their new pre-recorded format.
"I’m quite impressed with the photography that was done for this piece, because you see the dancer, you see the keyboardist and you’re sort of in a world that has nothing else in it," he said. "You don’t see audiences or chairs or anything else and I think that enhances it."
Shore said that Clear Lake festival organizers are also placing a spotlight on the unique history and culture that can be found within the province, since they didn’t get an opportunity to celebrate Manitoba 150 last year.
As such, the event’s YouTube page will be broadcasting the documentary "Wheat City 1900s — Making Modern Brandon" on Aug. 13, which will feature a rundown of local history set to BU composer Kenneth Nichols’ unique score.
Overall, Shore believes that this virtual format won’t sully the Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival’s reputation as "one of the cultural high points of living in Westman."
In fact, he believes that the reality of broadcasting the event exclusively online has forced organizers to think outside the box and provide patrons with a wider variety of content.
"If you want to go traditional, there’s a place to start," Shore said. "If you want to try something that’s a bit off the wall, it’s all there, too."
Anyone looking for more information about the lineup for this year’s Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival should visit the event’s official website at clearlakefestival.ca.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson