Morgan Bell
Morgan Bell
October 20, 2020

MusicUNB Adjusting to COVID-19 Restrictions

Memorial Hall, UNB Fredericton | Photo by Josh Vandenborre

MusicUNB is an annual concert series put on by the Centre for Musical Arts at UNB. 

“We’ve been running a concert series out of Memorial Hall for the last few decades,” said Richard Hornsby, the centre’s director. 

The centre historically focuses on classical music, but it is beginning to open up to bringing in different genres. Professional musicians come from across Canada to perform. Hornsby, himself a well-known musician, performs once or twice a semester. 

“I continue to enjoy performing and try to take the opportunity to be more involved,” he said.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the concerts are going to be different this year. 

“We had two options: it was either just not do them or to look into online presentations,” Hornsby explained. “One of the things that’s been taken away from us is the ability to gather and listen to music together.”

This is why Hornsby felt that offering these concerts at a time like this was crucial. These online concerts give people an opportunity to enjoy live music with their friend-bubble, but in order to provide the audience with the best quality possible the centre’s budget had to be tapped to purchase high-quality live streaming equipment.

“We began to think that this wasn’t going to be a short-term thing. If we were to invest in good equipment, presenting productions both locally and globally, we could stream to a much broader audience,” said Hornby.

The first concert was held on September 23. It was put together by musicians who were mainly based in Ontario. The artists recorded themselves and sent the videos to MusicUNB to be compiled into a show. 

“It was as if they were with us in a way,” said Hornsby. 

There was some context provided and an introduction piece. As an added value there were interviews with artists, in an almost documentary style.

There will be another concert in October and two in November, some of them being streamed and the other being a second edition of the New Music Festival. The festival will be focusing on female composers in Canada and will be concentrated over three days with streamed concerts and presentations.

“We don’t want to make it seem like a concert with no audience,” Hornsby noted. “We want to give people a different presentation, one that takes advantage of the technology we are given today.”

The general ticket price is $5, and the maximum is $20, which will include additional content. $10 will supply the audience with a program and program notes. Hornsby explained very clearly that despite the circumstances, the shows will still have the same high quality as they have always had live.

“We’re fully committed to making sure that what we are putting together has value.”

Tickets for students will be $5. 

“I always tell my students that’s less than a pint of beer these days,” Hornsby said, laughing.

All the information for the concerts can be found on UNB’s website under MusicUNB. A URL is given to buyers when the concert is ready and can be streamed for a couple of weeks following the release.

MusicUNB is encouraging students and the community to reach out and enjoy the talented musicians with friends and family. 

“We need things like music and art to be part of our lives at this time.”

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