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Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival going online this year due to Covid

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Covid or no Covid, the show must go on including  The Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival which is back in spirit this year.
 While Covid 19 cancelled the long standing festival three days before it was supposed to start last year, organizers have been working hard since the fall to bring the entire month-long event online for this year,“ I just hope the community will remember that we’re still here,” said Lethbridge and District Speech arts  Festival General Manger Megan Wittig.

Megan Wittig and the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival board have put a lot of work into turning the festival into an online event. Photo  by Richard Amery
 As expected , there are a lot fewer competitors this year with  420  musicians and artists aged six to university age competing,
“We’re down by half this year. We had 900 last time,” Wittig observed.

The deadline has closed for submissions this year.

This year, competitors were asked to submit a video of  their performances to Wittig, who will send them to adjudicators Aaron Au, Strings (Edmonton); Alicia Bigras, Contemporary Voice (Medicine Hat);  Camille Rogers, Music Composition and Junior Voice (Toronto);  Elliot Madore, Senior Voice (Toronto); Jennifer Orr, Speech (Calgary);  Kim Mattice Wanat, Musical Theatre (Edmonton); Kirk Muspratt, Band, Chamber Music, and Instrumental (Chicago, Illinois);  Louise Costigan-Kerns, Junior Piano (San Carlo, California) and  Magdalena von Eccher, Senior Piano (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island).
 “The adjudicators will send a video  back to each competitor and class and they will type out their feedback to them. They usually write out their feedback,” Wittig said.
“We’ve worked with most of the adjudicators before and a lot of them have local connections,” she said, adding most of the adjudicators scheduled for last year agreed to return for the virtual event.

“Some of them weren’t available. But going online means we have adjudicators from the United States , Toronto and the East Coast, who we would not have been able to afford fly in,” Wittig said.

 The event culminates with the Stars of the Festival “concert, Saturday, April 16 at 7 p.m.— which will be a compilation of the winning video submissions to air on YouTube and on Shaw TV.
There are competitors in several categories including strings (cello, violin, bass), chamber music senior and junior piano, musical theatre and composition. Submissions will be sent to the adjudicators by March 14, with adjudication to begin on March 15.

“We’re trying to keep it as close to the dates of the festival (if it had been a live event) as we could,” Wittig said.

“ LCI even entered a band submission. This year there are no choirs, guitar or organ. And we have four original compositions,” she said, noting there are a lot of entries into the strings category this year and plenty of Junior and Senior piano entries. Musical theatre entries are in the same category rather than being separated by age. There is also a new provincial category for contemporary rock and pop.
She noted the provincial competition is taking the same online format.
“So they won’t have to learn anything new for that,” she said.

The live performances are an important part of the festival, which aren’t happening this year.

“But we got some submissions from people who are nervous about performing on stage who might not have submitted otherwise,” Wittig continued, noting music teachers had to switch to online classes and lost a lot of their students, which may have contributed to the lower number of submissions.

“We asked them to submit using the video app on their phones and tablets. They’re young so they’re familiar with the technology,” Wittig said.
There are no live sessions for the public to attend and the competitors’ submissions won’t be available to the public .

“ Most of the competitors are minors. For the Festival of the Stars, we’ll get their permission and the works have to be in the public domain to avoid copyright issues,” Wittig said, adding they may also be available on social media pending permission and copyright issues.

 So the Stars of the Festival show will be  clips of the best performances edited together.
Awards will be given online, as there isn’t an awards ceremony as usual.

Going online has presented a unique set of challenges for the board.
“It’s been an interesting experience There’s been a lot of trial and error and a lot of figuring things out,” she said.
“ We’ll see how it works, but I’m pretty confident,” she said.
 More information is available at

 —By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Sunday, 07 March 2021 16:38 )  
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