Summer is here, and even though the province of Ontario has started their reopening plans, there are many festivals and events that have been long cancelled. Some have found ways to reimagine their work, while others have moved online completely, and others have simply postponed or adjusted to the modified regulations. Recognizing this time of transition, this month’s list includes both virtual and live options to help ring in the summer.

Brott Music Live

Since announcing the postponement of this year’s Festival to 2021, the Brott Music Festival has presented regular Saturday evening programming. Starting in July, the series will move to Thursday evenings at 7:30pm, streamed on the Festival’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Each concert is approximately forty-five minutes in length and will be hosted by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Boris Brott. In addition to presenting music, concerts will also provide audience members with the opportunity to interact directly with the presented artists and Festival partners, through a live Q&A.  So far, the concerts have provided a unique look into the inner-workings of the Festival, with features on its Artistic staff, education series and more.

Hamilton Originals: Live Music From the Westdale

Starting in July, the Westdale Cinema is reintroducing live music to its theatre, and inviting audience members to watch from the comfort of their own home. In addition to a traditional concert, each performance will also feature interviews with the evening’s featured artist on their inspirations and experiences. The performance series will air every Thursday evening at 8pm on the Theatre’s Facebook and YouTube pages, with a focus on local artists. So far, the lineup includes Tom Wilson, and tributes to different genres. While each performance is free to watch from home, the suggested donation is $15, with all proceeds going to the Westdale.

Redstone Winery Concert Series

Ontario may have started reopening, but patio season doesn’t quite feel the same without a singer or band. For those who may feel the same way, a short drive towards Niagara may do just the trick as  Beamsville’s Redstone Winery has found a way to move forward with their annual summer concert series in this age of physical distancing. Tickets aren’t cheap ($95 a piece), but include a three course dinner in addition to a concert featuring award-winning singers and songwriters, making for an incredible night out. While their June concerts were postponed, their July lineup includes JUNO-Award winners Rose Cousins (July 2), Bedouin Soundclash (July 23) and SOCAN-Folk Music Award winning David Francey (July 16).

Shaw Festival

The Shaw Festival, which has postponed the start of their season to August 1 (so far), has developed an extensive collection of online content over the past few months. Instead of inviting audience members into their theatres, they’ve opened their living rooms, backstages and minds to anyone willing to watch their series of interviews, online teachings, conversations, Q&As and debates. Did I need to learn a magic trick, or revisit my balloon-animal making days? Absolutely not. However, the Shaw Festival has the quarantine content that you didn’t even know you’re craving, and it’s dangerously easy to fall down the rabbit hole of their videos while waiting for their season to return.  

What the Fest

Fringe Festivals are known for their experimental efforts, so its no surprise that the Hamilton Fringe Festival recently announced a reimagined “artistic experiment” for 2020. In place of the traditional two-week event, this year’s festival has evolved into a one-week experience from July 21-26. Although it may look a little different this year, but Festival organizers promise the same unjuried, exciting performances that Fringes are known for. This year’s festival will provide three separate offerings to satisfy the safety and theatrical needs of any patron; an online Fringe Club ticketed performances through the Stream Out Loud series, or Skip the Glitches, which delivers physically distanced performances to your driveway or front yard.  

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