CHEK Upside: Island musicians set to perform charity concert series

CHEK Upside: Island musicians set to perform charity concert series
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The three-part Music by the Sea concert is a streaming production aimed to entertain while also raising funds for the artists and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.

Professional musician Ryan Oliver longs for the days of playing saxophone in front of a live audience.

“It’s an experience of sharing music with people and having them give you energy back, so I really miss it, yeah,” said Oliver, a professional musician who’s toured Toronto and New York.

COVID-19 restrictions have cancelled virtually all of his live gigs, but for Oliver and other Island musicians, there is a silver lining.

“Starting this Sunday we’re doing a series of three live-stream concerts,” said Christopher Donison, Artistic Director for Music By the Sea. “One at the end of each month, January, February and March.”

Music by the Sea is an annual festival that usually runs in Bamfield, a small community located along Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island. This year the show, which features Jazz and Classical musicians, will go on at the Victoria International Marina. It’s free to watch, but donations are encouraged, benefiting the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and the Music by the Sea artists.

“It really is a great opportunity, to bring to the community an opportunity to support two sectors which have both been really challenged through COVID,” said Donison, who also hosts the event.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Oliver. “Even as a musician sitting there listening to a string quartet play, and then we get to play, and I think it’s a really special event that is sort of unique in that experience.”

Victoria Symphony cellist, Hannah Craig, is also among the performers to take the virtual stage on Sunday night.

“I think there’s also something very valuable in providing something for people who are at home,” said Craig. “Because the reality is, even if we were to have regular concerts, there’s a huge amount of people who could never make it to a concert hall in the first place.”

The musicians also view the concert series as a benefit to their mental health.

“It’s therapeutic, it’s free therapy I guess,” said Oliver.

“It makes me inspired and happy to know at least we’re putting together opportunities for people to play,” added Donison.

The Music by the Sea concert series aims to be a showcase of local musicians, entertaining audiences from afar while helping raise important funds in a time of need.

“I mean it’s just good to help anybody,” said Craig. “If I can do that by simply playing my cello, that’s even better.”

For more information on dates and how to watch the concert series, click here.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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