Summer Music Festivals Embrace a Virtual Reality
Jul. 15, 2020
While some of the most enduring and anticipated summer music festivals have not been able to offer their usual live programming this year, that hasn't stopped a number of them from adapting to current conditions by moving their musical offerings online. Though we long for the days when live performances and gatherings can resume, this new format has allowed institutions and ensembles throughout the world to bring talented performers and great music to wider and more diverse audiences.
Some highlights include The Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival whose programming includes both free-of-charge archival offerings as well as newly created content available for purchase. The Ojai Music Festival's 2020 Virtual Festival (June 11-14), led by Music Director Matthias Pintscher, offered attendees insightful conversations with special guests, interspersed with video and music excerpts as well as selected concerts from the archives. The Festival content may be accessed here. The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music will host its 2020 Virtual Season from July 25-August 9. Music Director and Conductor Cristian Măcelaru says, “Despite the distance, the Festival Orchestra and I feel so profoundly connected to our Cabrillo family and so committed to the Festival. We all wanted and needed to make music together, to connect in meaningful ways, and to offer gifts of music and conversation that will be a source of healing and hope.” The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis created and broadcasted a Digital Festival experience that included everything from "Tent Talks" with artists to virtual master classes, to special Opening Night Spotlights (including a Spotlight on Awakenings, a new opera by composer Tobias Picker and librettist Aryeh Lev Stollman, which was scheduled to premiere in Saint Louis this summer). They report that over 197,156 minutes of content were viewed by over 157,650 individual viewers, and much of that content is still available online here. Yellow Barn created a series of summer residencies for their 2020 Summer Season, offering live performances by their world-class festival artists. Learn more here.
In addition, it has been delightful to see companies expand their offerings for children and famiies during this time. The Metropolitan Opera's Global Summer Camp is educating the next generation of opera lovers from every continent, providing eight weeks of free lectures, read alouds, performances, and crafts for children. The Santa Fe Opera's Opera Storytellers Summer Camp will begin next week, with full day sessions for children in grades 3-8. The San Francisco Opera's virtual "First Act Workshops" present live, interactive workshops where young children and their families are taken through the story of an opera with musical storytelling.
While it is not possible to mention all of the organizations engaging in this meaningful and important work, we heartily encourage our readers to explore the current offerings of their favorite musical institutions and ensembles, large and small, local and international, and if possible, to offer support for their outstanding musical offerings.
As we look to better days ahead, we commend the countless companies, festivals, ensembles, and individuals who have transcended the challenges of this time, using new media in innovative ways to forge connections and share music with eager audiences around the world!