Are you happy there was a virtual Strathmore Performing Arts Festival this year? That was a question answered over and over in the positive by young people who participated in a grand finale concert for this year’s Strathmore Performing Arts Festival (SPAF).

On Saturday night the SPAF broadcast the 2021 Showcase Concert on YouTube. The concert features 28 acts from the 100 festival participants.

SPAF president Carolyn Steeves said the event was spectacular.

“We worked so hard at that concert. We had a recording session in mid-April where we recorded all the participants from the festival that had been chosen to perform in the final concert, as well as all the provincial nominees.”

She noted that every child who recorded for the final concert was also interviewed.

In order to produce the video, there were two Strathmore High School (SHS)  students Jayla Robertson and Jaxon Sacked who recorded the interviews and completed the editing. As well as Sam Lloyd, a former SHS student who did all the recordings.

Agnieszka Barwacz Riou, the SPAF Awards chair, along with other board members were able to put the program together and keep the entire thing under wraps until Saturday night.

“She did all this work with the two high school students and didn't share the video with us, so literally none of us saw it until 7 o'clock last night and I'm sure every single one of us was watching it as soon as it came on,” she said. “It was so special. It was just a delight.”

The entire process for the festival was completed virtually. In terms of certificates and adjudication documents for the festival, everything was sent to the participants through email. In total there were over 100 performers and 28 acts were showcased in the final concert.

The students ranged from 7 to 18 years old.

Steeves said, “We did have actually participants younger than seven.” Students from most of the local schools in Strathmore were represented as well.

There were also 30 provincial nominations

The entire process was prerecorded in mid-April.

Steeves said back in the fall when they were planning the festival the board was unsure if they would offer a live festival.

“Everything just evolved through the year and it became obvious that it had to be virtual.

And we just kept plugging ahead and just kept trying to do something for the young musicians in our community,” she said.

So far they’ve received incredible feedback from the participants, their parents, and the adjudicators about how they were absolutely thrilled that there was a festival this year.

“No one really knew what it would be like and everyone was just so positive and so pleased and so happy. I think for us as a board that was so gratifying that all our work was so well received, and I think that's what I would like to say to the participants,” she said.

“We're so happy that we did what we tried to do at the outset of the fall of 2020. We actually pulled this off because we weren't really sure how it was going to play out,” she said.

You can watch the festival from the comfort of your living room by visiting the SPAF website or YouTube