Merrickville’s Jazz Fest returned in 2020 for its 10th Anniversary Season and we couldn’t be more delighted
with the results and attendance at our first-ever Virtual Edition!
With the encouragement and support of a number of key partners and the dedicated efforts of this year’s volunteers, we hosted a scaled-down
but still exciting online edition from October 15 to 18, 2020 and the feedback was very positive and rewarding.
We had to adapt to a different way of planning and presenting a music festival but some things didn’t change all that much. After virtually the same selection process, virtually the same hiring process, virtually the same curation of a final lineup, and of course, many virtual meetings, discussions and collaborations,
we were able to put on our beloved festival. It didn’t take place in the beautiful village of Merrickville at the many locations we know
but was instead hosted right here — virtually — on the MJF website for everyone to enjoy.
We were proud to present this year’s MJF lineup of five hour-long concerts featuring some of the festival audience’s favourite artists from the last few years plus a brand new group of musicians that we were delighted to introduce. Some groups were from the Ottawa-Gatineau area and some were from Montreal or Toronto; all were terrific! Most evenings, we started the festival off with a live Zoom Chat! so that we could catch up with old friends and meet new ones before the show to share a glass of wine (or beer or whatever your favourite beverage may be) and were were joined by some of the musicians performing at MJF who stopped in for a chat and interview. On Sunday afternoon, we were pleased to offer a terrific vocal masterclass with Laura Anglade before her matinée concert at 4:00 PM; it was a big hit with all who attended. All the events were very reasonably priced whether one bought a Basic Ticket or Pass or were able to offer some additional support at the Sponsor level (for which there will be a number of draws for new release CDs from our MJF artists as well as some cool MJF swag!)
Our evening concerts took place at 7:30 PM via a special link on the website (available when each concert premiered). The shows were presented thanks to the support of our venue hosts — GigSpace and Audio Valley Recording Studio in Ottawa and The Rex and Canterbury Music Company in Toronto — as well as the talents of our Audio/Video production teams in both cities and, of course, our wonderful artists. Each concert video lasted about an hour and was available to pass and ticket holders for a 24-hour viewing period once the video premiered. We were happy to welcome viewers from nearby, across Canada and locations in the U.S. as well as from Europe and Brazil and perhaps other places as well. MJF has never had such an international audience before; one of those pandemic silver linings we try to look for these days.
We eagerly look forward to a time when we can safely reunite to attend live concerts whenever and wherever that may be. Until then, we were thrilled to celebrate ten years of the festival with performances by some great jazz artists that we could all enjoy from the comfort of our own homes — separately but together — when it was time to Zoom or catch a show.
We don’t know quite what the future holds but thanks to everyone for helping us make MJF 2020 a great success. Stay safe.
Susan Piercey – Festival Director (from 2017 to 2020)