Reduced capacity makes this year’s festival “more of a privilege, a rare thing”, organizer says
ON THE SCENE
What: Music by the sea
Or: Victoria International Marina, 1 Tonnellerie Pl.
When: January 11-16
A reinvented Music By the Sea festival kicks off today, to the delight – and surprise – of its intrepid creator.
“We were excited to see what would happen,” said Christopher Donison, executive artistic director of the popular classical and jazz themed event. “I’m going to be in there, even though I’m on my own.”
Donison will have plenty of company, including members of the public for the first time in nearly two years. The pianist had prepared the 15th edition of Music By the Sea for launch in August, but the festival was ultimately postponed at the last minute, amid concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island. . While active cases remain high, Donison is moving forward with his event at 50% capacity, per provincial health rules.
Nightly performances will be held at Victoria International Marina, on the shores of the Songhees Walkway, until January 16. Guests attending performances by the Borealis String Quartet, Aurora Piano Trio, Great American Songbook Trio and others need vaccination passports and social distancing is in effect, he said.
“It worked in our favor because when we postponed to August, we came up with the rescheduling date in January. And when we chose mid-January, everything was at 50% capacity. We were lucky we didn’t go 100% when this was allowed. “
Music By the Sea has taken place in Bamfield and Victoria in recent years, having been based exclusively in Bamfield since 2006. Donison has been forced to pivot several times in his attempts to host a life-size version of his festival in the Inner Harbor. . His original plan to host summer events in Bamfield and Victoria, with Victoria having its own unique winter event, is tentatively back after years of cancellations and postponements, he said.
The constant changes have given Donison the ability to produce Music By the Sea for a smaller audience, without sacrificing quality.
“People pay based on capacity. Rather, it’s a privilege, a rare thing, to be sitting in this room with only 30 or 40 other people. There are some nights that there may only be 20 people in the audience. It’s very good, the way I see it. It’s just going to make it a really special, intimate and quality musical experience for all involved.
The artists, some of whom are coming to the event from Vancouver, were more than grateful, Donison said. He sweats over the details so they don’t have to.
“It’s gratifying for me to do that, when you’ve got the wind in your back and you’re inspired by stuff.” I think our budget for these looks pretty good right now, so I was able to call all the people in Vancouver who come in and just hiked their fees to cover their travel costs a bit.
Donsion has been active on several fronts during the pandemic, both as a performer and festival scheduler. He thus acquired a new set of skills, which he puts to good use with Music by the Sea. He takes the event for what it is at this point, not what he imagined. This progression will materialize soon enough, he said.
“I think if I sort of move my mind through months and years, this one could be very memorable. I anticipate it will be very intimate. It’s a bit of a luxury. “