Staff report, News & Record
GREENSBORO — While the COVID-19 pandemic kept it smaller in scope, the Eastern Music Festival celebrated a safe and successful summer season of education and public concerts.
The five-week classical music program attracted more than 8,000 audience members to 51 ticketed events in Guilford College venues, EMF said in a news release.
Students totaling 190 from around the country engaged in more than 950 hours of in-person private lessons and over 945 rehearsals, seminars, studio classes and performances.
Last summer, like other performing arts organizations worldwide, EMF canceled its in-person season, which typically attracts nearly 300 students. To help compensate, EMF created replacement online programming.
This summer, EMF brought back a smaller 60th anniversary live season, with fewer students and faculty.
“Our return to a live festival following more than a year of serious challenges is something to celebrate,” EMF Executive Director Chris Williams said in the news release. “We could not have been so successful without the support and commitment of our partners, students, faculty, staff, board and patrons.”
EMF planned for 18 months to make the in-person festival healthy and safe.
It worked. There were no COVID-19 cases among students, faculty or staff, EMF officials said.
“We followed the recommended protocols from local, state and national experts, required COVID-19 vaccinations for all of our participants, conducted prevalence testing, monitored our immediate community, and wore masks entering and exiting crowded indoor settings,” Williams said in the news release.
“We knew that the best way to do what we do so well – educate and nurture young artists – should occur in the studio, on the stage, with all health and safety precautions in place,” Williams said.
The new normal was different.
EMF established early on that 2021 could work with some adjustments to accommodate the health and safety protocols: enrolling fewer students housed in single-room dorms, reduced faculty artist ensemble sizes, no outside guest artists, required vaccinations and testing for all EMF participants, online touchless ticketing, socially distanced seating, and 50% capacity for indoor venues.
The quality of education was not diminished, and programming was more tightly focused, the EMF news release said.
EMF will return next summer. Planning is already underway for EMF’s 61st season, from July 25 to July 30, 2022.