For two decades, the Tuckamore Festival has been bringing the very best of chamber music, including performances from world renowned musicians, workshops and educational events, mentorship opportunities and more, to the province. And while the ongoing pandemic means that the 20th anniversary isn’t going to look as originally planned, the festival is forging ahead with a special online edition that includes a fabulous roster of performances and events. This display of fortitude and resilience is no surprise, of course, for a festival that takes its name from a tree that’s celebrated for its tenacity and strength.
Running from August 10-19, Tuckamore 2020: Online Edition will include over 20 events and uphold the festival’s legacy of creating connection and community through music. This year will feature live streamed and only-for-Tuckamore curated performances, several world premieres by Juno and Grammy nominated composers, Tuckamore Talks with the festival’s resident music theorist Dr. Joe Argentino, and more, and will include opportunities for audiences to interact with the artists. Participating musicians this year include Duo Concertante, Serena Canin and Thomas Sauer, Trinitas Chamber Ensemble, Tom Allen and the Missing Pages, and SHHH!! Ensemble, just to name a few.
“We never would have imagined we’d be navigating towards a completely online festival. But after 20 years, we have such a rich tapestry of supporters and volunteers and alumni who have just all been so willing to take a leap of faith and come along with us and support in any way they could,” says Krista Vincent, General Manager of the Tuckamore Festival.
Vincent says while she’s excited about the pivot to online programming, technology adds a new dimension to this year’s festival. The festival team has strived to keep things as user-friendly as possible and is making technical support available for those who request it. Making sure the events remain enjoyable and dynamic, while keeping audiences engaged and connected through a screen, is new territory, but not one that’s impassable.
“What we’ve tried to do is really make it foolproof…you sit down, you open up your computer, you know, five minutes – as if you were arriving in a concert hall – before start time and then the show begins. We really wanted to emulate that live experience,” Vincent says.
There’s a learning curve involved and while living streaming performances has essentially turned the festival into a mini broadcaster this year, she adds, the essence of the festival remains the same.
“Our challenge is always to make sure that we’re filling a concert hall (and) that the music is the best it can be, and those things haven’t changed. We’re definitely still prioritizing the best music, high quality, beautiful presentation, beautiful sound – those things are still a priority, even in the online space.”
While free online events are a dime a dozen these days, the Tuckamore Festival has maintained ticketed events (on a sliding scale) with 100 per cent of ticket revenue going to the artists. Tickets are available via Ticketpro, who Vincent says the festival has been using since 2013.
“I reached out to them immediately when I knew that we couldn’t have live concerts, and I said we still want to go with a ticketed model, that’s important to us…There’s a lot of free content out there and that’s great, and we’ll do that as well. But there has to be a balance and people still have to support themselves,” she says.
“(Ticketpro) were just fantastic. They worked really quite tirelessly with me to make sure that we could do this.”
While St. John’s is generally a tight knit and supportive community, Vincent says, it’s even more inspiring to see how people have pulled together during these current challenges to lift one another up.
“There are many people within the arts community that have been making this leap and really trying to stay active and relevant and putting out their material. This is a very, very busy festival season for many organizations. Throughout the months and working through this, there were a lot of challenges and a lot of insecurities. But what has been amazing is the amount of support, and that’s not just our audiences and people in the Tuckamore community, but really across the whole arts community,” she says.
“People that are working with us and for us and supporting us and volunteering for us are doing that for other festivals and events. So that expertise and that knowledge and that kind of sharing of resources is really important. We’re all just going to elevate what we’re doing, together.”