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Some “Surreal” Relief During a Long, Cold Lockdown Winter

Let’s be honest, we are all tired of lockdowns, restrictions, and the cold, snowy winter weather. We need some respite from it all. It’s one of the reasons SweetWater is offering virtual music programming throughout this winter until the spring. It’s part of SweetWater Surreal, the multifaceted, multi-platform music experience which we launched in late August.

SweetWater Surreal included 12 live concerts staged in Owen Sound and Meaford in September and late October (organized to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance). Close to 700 people enjoyed these Surreal concerts at various outdoor venues as well as at one indoor concert. We’re now posting video highlights from some of these concerts on our web site as part of SweetWater Encore!. Plus, we staged our first ever livestream this past fall of a live concert featuring Measha Brueggergosman. It was a perfect, safe alternative for those who didn’t feel comfortable being there in person. We’re now posting video highlights from some of these Surreal Live concerts on our web site as part of SweetWater Encore!.

We found out quickly that people were hungry for music and for something to distract them from the problems all around us. Our Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga sums it up this way.

“It has been a challenging time for all of us and music is a great way to soothe the soul and mind. It’s something many people have told us since we launched Surreal late last summer.”

Online, virtual music will never truly replace a live, music performance. However, we are all learning how these virtual connections do offer a way to enjoy music and even interact with other – safely.

Our Front Row series, launched late last summer, offers a personal, up close experience with musicians and a chance to watch them in performance from the comfort of your home. New episodes were released in January featuring guitarist William Coulter and multi-instrumentalist Ashley Hoyer. Coming up soon are Front Row episodes featuring four members of the early music string ensemble Acronym. If you missed past episodes featuring accomplished musicians including Measha Brueggergosman, you can still enjoy them on our website,

Early in the new year, we launched a new series of online, interactive conversations with accomplished musicians from Canada and beyond, Into the Music. Hosted and moderated by our Artistic Director, it lets you “Zoom” in on the session and even ask questions. The first two sessions featuring Keith Hamm and Julie Hereish and another with Marc Destrubé are also available as audio podcast editions posted on the SweetWater website. New Into the Music sessions are planned for March running into early spring.

Both Front Row and Into the Music are also great education tools for music students. We encourage both students and teachers to utilize these free resources especially during a time when in-person visits by musicians is impossible.”

Though SweetWater Surreal will wrap up early spring, we’re already working on new online initiatives over the months ahead including some features to be part of our 17th festival SweetWater 2021 (September 16 – 19).

To paraphrase that famous saying applied to mail carriers, neither COVID, nor lockdowns, nor restrictions shall keep musicians from performing for audiences who love music. The show most go on!



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