North Okanagan stage puts live music in focus

Opera singer Melina Schein is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Opera singer Melina Schein is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Jodie B is featured in the first episode of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Producer and multi-instrumentalist Jodie B is featured in the first episode of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Singer-songwriter Shaughnessy is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Singer-songwriter Shaughnessy is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Gord Wilson is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Gord Wilson is one of the artists featured in the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s Focus online series, premiering Thursday, Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Singer Charlotte Backman is included in episode one of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Singer Charlotte Backman is included in episode one of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Classical guitarist Manfred Harter is included in episode one of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Classical guitarist Manfred Harter is included in episode one of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)
Classic rock duo, The Raz, are included in episode one of the ernon and District Performing Arts Centr’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)Classic rock duo, The Raz, are included in episode one of the ernon and District Performing Arts Centr’s new Focus online series, starting Jan. 21. (VDPAC photo)

The show will go on in 2021.

Following a tough year, the spotlight is being put on Okanagan valley artists with the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society’s new Focus online series.

Premiering Thursday, Jan. 21, the series will stream online local talent every two weeks for free to introduce VDPAC’s development of online programming.

A total of 22 artists will be featured in this first series, including local Julliard trained opera singer Melina Schein; singer-songwriter Shaughnessy; singer, multi-instrumentalist performer and producer Jodie B; classical guitarist Manfred Harter; fashion designer Jill Setah; and new wave artist HaidenLaird.

“When COVID kiboshed my performance career, I didn’t know when I’d see the stage again,” said Schein, well-known to Vernon audiences. “The arts have been one of the hardest-hit industries and we still can’t see the light. I’m so grateful to the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre for creating work for performers during these unprecedented times and offering a beautiful opportunity to make art again. Spending the afternoon performing/recording filled my cup and helped me to remember where my heart is and why I do what I do.”

Creative digital performance is becoming the new normal for theatres across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the performing arts industry, one of the most affected by the suspension of live performance – and the VDPAC did not hesitate to develop its own means to produce digital content. Two digital PTZ (pan tilt zoom) cameras were purchased along with state-of-the-art live-streaming and audio console equipment in preparation for recording professional HD-quality videos with digital sound for the Focus series. Over 35 Okanagan artists submitted audition videos in response to an initial call for artists in August. Those chosen by the adjudicators for this first wave were invited to record in the newly upgraded Marie Fleming Studio, with larger groups performing socially distanced on VDPAC’s main stage. Recordings began in November and will resume in January 2021.

“During COVID we had to pivot from working artists from around Canada and the world – to focus into a purely local lens. The Okanagan is such an artistically rich and diverse community. The Focus online series has been a great opportunity to work with such incredibly talented artists! We feel so lucky to live and work here in the Okanagan,” artistic director Erin Kennedy said.

“Throughout this terrible pandemic, we have remained positive, despite this long interruption of live public performances,” VDPAC’s executive director Jim Harding said. “We have taken advantage of this time to find ways to work within current restrictions and found valuable sources of financial support to help us develop and now add online programming to our means of presenting performing arts. We plan to continue this development even once live performances can return and are now exploring ways in which both live and live-streamed or pre-recorded programming can complement each other in the future, as either medium offers different perspectives on performance that can be just as inspiring and fulfilling.”

“The new equipment purchased to allow us to handle these new events and projects are a full live video production system (NewTek Tricaster 410Plus) currently featuring two HD PTZ Cameras and one 4K capable compact camcorder with plans to expand to even more cameras in the near future” technical director Rylee Block said. “An audio multi-track recording solution capable of recording 48 individual tracks simultaneously, and a brand new audio console (Digico S31) which can function as a dedicated broadcast desk to allow us to carefully mix and monitor two separate audio feeds: one for a live audience and the other for a digital one simultaneously to ensure that regardless of whether a patron is in our house or theirs, they are getting the pristine, professional sound they expect to hear from our shows.”

This summer’s conversion and upgrade of its Marie Fleming Hall, re-purposed it as the Marie Fleming Studio. Replacement of original sound baffling panels and addition of theatrical drapes to dramatically improve its acoustics and a colour-scheme change more conducive to theatrical lighting has transformed the space into a professional recording and small live event studio. VDPAC will make the MFS available for commercial, public and individual artists’ bookings for HD video and sound recording sessions, including music, online presentations, classes and podcasts.

Links will be posted on Ticket Seller, Facebook and Instagram.

Visit www.ticketseller.ca for more event streaming information.

READ MORE: Turkeys fight it out in Vernon driveway

READ MORE: Okanagan reels in record year of films despite COVID-19


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