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Corner Brook’s Rotary Music Festival cancelled for 2021

Corner Brook music teacher Alison McHugh said even though the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival has been cancelled for 2021 there are still opportunities out there, like online music festivals, for students to take part in.
Corner Brook music teacher Alison McHugh said even though the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival has been cancelled for 2021 there are still opportunities out there, like online music festivals, for students to take part in. - Contributed

Corner Brook music teacher says there are still opportunities out there for students

CORNER BROOK — The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic changes almost daily and that makes planning for future events nearly impossible.

And for that reason, the board of the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival has decided to cancel its 2021 festival.

Paula Butt, president of the festival board, said it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but with cases of COVID-19 rising in the area, and not knowing what March was going to bring, the board felt it should cancel the festival before it incurred any cost to even start organizing the event.

The board was just about a week away from the start of its 2020 festival last March when the event was cancelled at the start of the pandemic.

Butt didn’t have an exact figure on what the cancellation cost the organization, but said it was substantial.

She also noted that by now a lot of work would have been done for the 2021 event, including approaching the local business community.

“We depend on the businesses in the community to sponsor us to keep us going and in light of the economy we didn’t think it was even right to go out to the business community to look for a sponsorship for a festival that may not happen.”

There would have been a lot of work already started on the actual program.

“We would have had our syllabus out by November for students to register for classes,” said Butt.

She also said the board anticipated it would have some difficulty in getting volunteers for the event.

“We’re just trying to keep everybody safe,” said Butt. “With everything combined, that’s why we did make the decision.”

With the festival going to miss a second year, the board is not concerned this could spell the end for the event, Butt said.

“I think music is so important in this community and in this province and we don’t think like that at all.”

Butt said feedback the board has received from music teachers and parents shows support for the decision.

No other option

“I think that’s just it, they had to cancel,” said music teacher Alison McHugh.

“There’s a lot involved in planning a festival and the COVID situation is constantly changing, so whatever you plan for today, it might not work for tomorrow.”

McHugh said if organizers waited to see what the situation was like at festival time, it might have been too late to make any changes that may be required.

“I think that it’s very sad for the students who want to participate and for the teachers who’ve also worked hard to prepare their students. But I think the most important thing is the wider concern for society.”

But all is not lost, as McHugh said there are online opportunities for students to present their work through the Newfoundland and Labrador Registered Music Teachers Association..

The association is affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers, and McHugh said it had been doing some things before the pandemic, mostly in St. John’s.

It is now doing more online, which opens it up to many more students, she said.

She’s had students participate in a recent Canada Music Week e-festival where they received feedback from adjudicators.

The association has also held a provincial recital that any student of a registered teacher in the province could take part in, and will offer master classes that are open to anyone.

“It’s wonderful. It keeps students engaged and motivated, something to work towards,” said McHugh.

As well as offering learning opportunities, McHugh said, it provides opportunities for socializing, as students get to interact with other kids all over the province.

“Anything we can do to make life as normal for students as we can is worth doing.”

Diane Crocker reports on west coast news.

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