This is a most unusual year, isn’t it? When Chamber Music Northwest realized that it wouldn’t be possible to hold our fabulous 50th Anniversary Summer Festival due to COVID-19 restrictions, we wasted no time in planning an alternative solution. We firmly believe that the world needs the healing power of music now, especially during this pandemic, to provide beauty and a calming effect to soothe the anxieties of people confined by the quarantine.
Chamber Music Northwest has created an entirely virtual summer festival, offering 15 different concert programs, free-of-charge, during the five weeks of our summer festival, June 22-July 26, 2020. We have curated programs from our archival recordings of past performances, and are also producing five new programs specifically for this virtual festival. The programs are introduced by Artistic Director David Shifrin, and include real-time interviews with the participating artists to give context to the programs. We produced a virtual festival program book, available in print and online. Each program can be accessed for 30 hours; it is then taken down and the following program brought up. Programs run Mon/Tue, Thur/Fri, and Sat/Sun for five weeks. Please visit cmnw.org for complete details, and watch the current program.
In addition to the festival concerts, CMNW is also offering three family-friendly programs, which will each be accessible online for a 1-week period. Those programs include: The Silver River, a stunningly beautiful chamber opera that blends Chinese and Western music styles, and two children’s programs, Marita and her Heart’s Desire, and Carnival of the Animals.
CMNW is also offering free three master classes with our outstanding artists: July 11: Violin/Viola master class with Danny Phillips; July 17: Woodwinds with David Shifrin; and July 18 Flute with Tara Helen O’Connor. The live master class is at 11am Pacific time on the listed date—after airing it will be available through the CMNW education project archive. Participation for advanced student musicians is free, and anyone can watch the master classes, either in real time or after the classes have concluded.
Although we miss the experience of live performances, there are some advantages to the virtual festival: it is more accessible, as anyone with internet access can watch the programs in their own homes, at any time they choose during the 30 hours the program is live. We have already heard from some listeners that they appreciate the artists’ comments, and being able to see the artists in their own homes—a different experience from the concert hall. During the first week of the festival, we averaged over 2,000 visits per program—considerably larger audiences than attend a live chamber music concert.
Chamber Music Northwest is supportive of our artists, whose livelihood from performing has been stripped away by the pandemic health safety restrictions. Weeks before we made the decision to cancel the festival, we sent every one of our artists 50% of their summer performance fees. The artists were most grateful for this payment—some hadn’t had a paycheck for many weeks.
Running a virtual festival is a new experience for our staff, who have been terrific in learning new skills related to producing, marketing, trouble shooting and providing customer assistance with online programming. While producing the virtual festival is not as expensive as producing live concerts, we do have expenses of paying the artists, audio and video tape editing, producing a completely new program book, and marketing the virtual festival – that plus the artist payments come to over $192,000. On the revenue side, we have no ticket sales—our largest source of income! Fortunately, our audience is responding by donating their tickets or making online contributions, and we have received a few grants for help during the COVID restrictions. But there is still a significant gap ($86,000) between virtual festival income and expenses.
Your gift through GlobalGiving will help Chamber Music Northwest provide the world’s finest chamber music to a virtually unlimited audience, free of charge. We invite you to enjoy the Virtual Summer Festival, and thank you for considering a gift to help; support this unique effort.
We look forward to bringing you live concerts again, as soon as it is safe to do so!