While the COVID-19 pandemic has waylaid a number of artistic events, the first amalgamation of the Bridgewater and Lunenburg music festivals - the Lunenburg County Music Festival - is proceeding as planned.
The festival will focus on three disciplines: violin or strings, which consist of classical and fiddle, piano and voice.
Fiddle and violin were to be held April 10, at St. John's Lutheran Church; piano, April 13 to 15, at the Central United Church in Lunenburg; voice from April 20 to 22, also at the Central United Church; and musical theatre on April 24 at the Central United Church Hall.
"We were looking forward to our first all-county festival last year at this time, but of course had to cancel. So we are really thrilled to be able to hold the festival this year – which is a showcase of the incredible musical talents of young people in Lunenburg County," Deborah Glassman, a past treasurer and one of the organizers of the event, told LighthouseNOW in an email.
While Mary Knickle, who shares the position of co-acting president along with Sharon Gow-Knickle, emphasized that the organizers are following all relevant government health protocols.
"We're doing strict COVID rules. We have extra staff there to clean in between sessions," she explained to LighthouseNOW in a telephone interview.
"Students come in, and we are allowed to have spectators but only so many. Since we're using the churches, they're all roped off already."
As for numbers, Knickle believed they were allowed to have 75 spectators at each event. However, she suggested, "We never have that many."
The single festival concept stems back more than 75 years, well before the event was split into the two regions.
The students perform in various classes and the adjudicator chooses or marks each student per class. The highest marks of the week get chosen for the festival finale which showcases the students.
Trophies and awards are given out at the festival finale, based on the choices of the various adjudicators. From there, some students might be chosen to represent the festival at the provincial level and the national level after that.
The music festival is a solid platform for students as they learn to hone their musical skills, according to Knickle.
"But the music festival does so much more. Students perform in front of an adjudicator under pressure, and over the years I have watched them improve, become more comfortable and grow as musicians and as people," she suggested later in an email.
"We have had students return to us from university telling us how much they have learned from performing in the festival. They were never nervous for presentations and very comfortable under pressure speaking in front of people or giving a dissertation for their thesis."
Moreover, she suggested, the adjudicators are "positive, upbeat and encouraging.
"They want the students to improve, and they give good suggestions towards their musical performances Overall we try to make the festival the best experience possible," said Knickle.