I am the artistic director of the Toronto Bach Festival, and am also a 30+ year veteran member of Tafelmusik. I perform with both organizations as an oboist. I can  speak for the Bach festival, as well as for myself as a musician and member of Tafelmusik. 

Regarding what I had to let go of when COVID-19 hit, for the Toronto Bach Festival this is quite straightforward: we cancelled the 2020 festival that had been scheduled to run May 29-31, 2020. This is not only our primary activity, it is essentially our only activity at this point in our relatively short existence.

Tafelmusik cancelled the remainder of the season somewhere around the middle of March. With the cancellation of Opera Atelier’s spring production of Handel’s La Resurrezione, my performing activities effectively ended for the foreseeable future.

In terms of follow-through, once circumstances allow, for the Bach Festival, our current assumption is that we will be able to offer a festival in May 2021.  Once we complete the process of refunding ticket sales, processing any conversions of ticket sales to donations, and reassuring our donors, we will begin work on the groundwork of the 2021 festival.

For Tafelmusik, there is a great deal of uncertainty at this writing as to what will be possible in September with the start of the new season. As a musician, I am hoping the events of the next weeks and months will provide some clarity about that situation.

I think all arts organizations that have seen their performance activities cancelled are concerned about maintaining a connection with their audiences. For the Bach Festival, we will launch a monthly email newsletter, and will maintain and perhaps even boost our presence on social media to nurture these important connections. It is the hope, of course, that this will even increase our audience at the next festival (presumably in May 2021).

We had an outstanding fifth anniversary festival planned for May 2020, and we will soon begin to work on rescheduling as many of those events as possible for the next festival. If circumstances permit, we are also considering the possibility of producing a single concert, perhaps in the fall of 2020, as a means of staying connected to our audience, and we will be working on tentatively scheduling that event next month. At this point, however, there are so many unknowns it feels impossible to make any concrete plans.

For Tafelmusik, the core orchestra has been busy working with the marketing managers to produce some content that can be made available online, including a video produced by combining recorded performances from our homes.

For people reading this who want to stay in touch,  the Toronto Bach Festival website (torontobachfestival.org)is a good place to start as details of our plans fall into place.  Contact me at director@torontobachfestival.org to put yourself on a list to receive our newsletter.

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