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next waveThe SweetWater Music Festival like many organizations is adjusting to a new reality this spring as a result of COVID-19 and physical distancing measures. Despite having to postpone planned concerts, SweetWater has launched several new initiatives to keep the music alive.

“One thing I've been thinking a lot about is that we need music, art, and connection more then ever,” says SweetWater Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga. “Finding ways to take a moment and listen to something beautiful or pick up a new instrument and learn a tune are really real and important ways to connect to our inner self, and our emotions.”

The annual Next Wave Showcase for aspiring, emerging musicians (ages 14 – 29) is now going online. The Next Wave Virtual Showcase coming in June will offer young performers from Grey Bruce and beyond a chance to perform for a worldwide audience. Solo repertoire from applicants is encouraged and all performers must be Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 9 level or a similar equivalent.

Along with providing video clip of a performance, musicians must complete a registration (found on the SweetWater web site, sweetwatermusicfestival.ca) and submit a one-page letter of recommendation. Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga will select the finalists who will take part. Application deadline is May 31.

Next Wave Showcase finalists will receive a small honorarium, an opportunity to have an online music lesson with Huizinga, along with music career counselling from him. They also may be selected for a mentorship opportunity with SweetWater.

SweetWater is also working on music education opportunities for students later this spring. One session will feature Jaron Freeman-Fox. The multi-talented violinist was scheduled to headline SweetWater Jazz IV (now postponed) as well as a visit to local schools. More details will be provided soon about these sessions. Huizinga will also be offering some online instruction for students. SweetWater considers it vital to continue to these outreach initiatives for young people interested in musical pursuits.

Two other online music initiatives were also launched this spring.

SweetWater Redux offers a musical trip back in time. Audio recordings and videos from previous Festivals and concert events are being posted weekly. Many recordings date back to the Festival’s early days. Most have never been released before.

Huizinga is also providing music lovers with something to enjoy, Music Moments with Edwin. Some of these are solo moments from his studio. He recently performed an online concert with his long-time music collaborator Bill Coulter as part of their Fire & Grace duo.

“I truly believe we’re living in a time of supporting each other. The beauty of a phone call or Zoom chat shouldn’t be underestimated, as well as the process of recording some new music, and sending it to a friend. These things are so valuable,” adds Huizinga.

SweetWater is carefully monitoring how the COVID-19 situation is currently evolving and what impact it may have on its September festival plans. The Board and staff are taking into consideration all available information and guidance from health and government agencies as it plans for concerts over the balance of 2020. The safety of all involved is a top priority.

source: media release, SweeetWater

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