Cariboo Festival Society president Robin Ford, left, and board member Chris Ford outside of Williams Lake Evangelical Free Church on Eleventh Avenue where a virtual version of the festival kicked off Monday, April 12. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune).

Cariboo Festival showcasing virtually in lakecity

Each performer was allowed one spectator and Angela Sommer accompanying them on piano

The Cariboo Festival got underway Monday, April 12 in Williams Lake with performers singing to a video camera due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Video-taped singing entries from 42 entrants in varying ages and classes wrapped up Tuesday at the Williams Lake Evangelical Free Church on Eleventh Avenue.

The videos will be forwarded to adjudicator Dr. Jim Sparks, a teacher, conductor and researcher out of Vancouver.

“Our band and instrumental entries are all being done through self-submission videos,” said Cariboo Festival Society president Robin Ford after the final performance Monday.

The nine entrants will be adjudicated by Olivia Blander from the faculty of the VSO School of Music and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute.

Twenty-eight piano entrants will perform at Calvary Church on Thursday, April 22, and Murray Nichol, a senior examiner for The Royal Conservancy based in Vancouver will be adjudicating them.

Robin confirmed participants should hear back from the adjudcators within six days of the submissions.

Read more: Cariboo Festival plans for virtual format in 2021

With equipment rented from videographer John Dell of Williams Lake, Ford’s husband Chris, also a member of the festival board, is filming each performance.

“We wanted a level playing field ultimately for the participants in our community because internet can be an issue and technology can be scary,” Robin said. “We wanted to make sure all the youth and adults that wanted to perform had the ability to do so.”

Each performer was allowed one spectator and Angela Sommer accompanying them on piano, while being filmed.

“The performers were tremendous and my favourite part of today was just sitting and watching every performer come through,” Chris said. “It always astounds me how much talent is in this region.”

Sommer, also a music teacher, said they did mock recording six weeks ago of the entrants and since then she had seen great improvement.

“It’s been really exciting to be here and see how well they are doing,” Sommer said, noting technology has enabled her to continue teaching students in Williams Lake even though she moved to Vernon in May 2020.

She said she feels in that respect COVID-19 has opened the door for smaller communities who have realized what can be done virtually.

Sommers has been teaching through Zoom and said she can look directly at the students faces to advise them on what improvements can be made in their singing techniques.

From the Cariboo Festival some delegates will be forwarded to compete in the provincials, which will also be held virtually this year. Sommer is the provincial rep for the Cariboo Festival Society as well.

Read more: Well loved voice teacher bids farewell to Williams Lake


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Angela Sommer is a music teacher, provincial representative for the Cariboo Festival and is in Williams Lake to accompany many of the participants in the festival. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

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