September 24, 2020
Live music happened in 2020! It may seem hard to believe this year but from September 17 to 20, SweetWater presented 11 live concerts as part of SweetWater Surreal Live. The concerts, featuring a string quartet led by SweetWater Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga along with violist Keith Hamm, violinist Marc Destrubé, and cellist Julie Hereish, attracted close to 600 people all over Owen Sound and Meaford, Ontario.
“I have nothing but appreciation for the people of Owen Sound, Meaford, and the rest of Grey Bruce,” says Edwin. “You have shown us that there’s nothing like live music and that we will all find a way to walk our lawn chairs down the street and set up in a small pod or bubble, or whatever it takes, to share and enjoy live music. The artists thank you, the community thanks you, and I thank you!”
The four, magical days of music included seven Pop-Up Concerts. These took place at a variety of unexpected locations including Meaford Harbour, Hibou Conservation Area, Billy Bishop Museum, and the Harrison Park Bandstand. The final one was a special Sunday Brunch Pop-Up at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market. The quartet performed on instruments made by local string instrument makers Mark Schnurr, David Prentice, Sibylle Ruppert, and Greg Walke.
The featured concerts included a special Friday night event, Surreal Live at Coffin Ridge. This sold out event will always be remembered for the chilly temperatures and a breathtaking sunset. Edwin noted it was the first time he had performed with a toque on. The quartet finished the concert despite the near freezing temperatures during the final performance of the evening.
The three garden concerts featured unique properties that offered a special ambience for live music. In particular, the Sunday Matinee finale at the Gabriel Zufelt Home along the picturesque Sydenham River was extra-special. SweetWater welcomed watercraft patrons for the first time over to a concert. It truly was a magical way to end four days of music.
Staging concerts in the great outdoors often posed challenges due to high winds on Thursday and Friday in some locations. Cold temperatures, especially during evening concerts, also made it particularly daunting for the quartet. Despite this, all concerts took place over the four days. One was relocated from Bayshore Gazebo at noon Friday due to high winds and waves on the bay that day. A calmer location was found at Grey Gallery Gardens in downtown Owen Sound (site of a Mid-Afternoon Pop-Up as well).
SweetWater also implemented strict COVID-19 safety protocols at all events and everyone who attended complied to these measures. It was important to make health and safety a priority at all times.
“What an extraordinary experience SweetWater Surreal was! So many people told us how great it was to have live music happening again,” says Lynda Montgomery, SweetWater Board Chair. “With the contributions of generous sponsors and hosts, tireless volunteers, gifted musicians, and an Artistic Director with a vision, we all rose to the challenge of providing live, soul-nourishing music to all.”
SweetWater Surreal continues this fall with more music for all to enjoy. New Surreal Episodes of Front Row will roll out soon featuring many of the musicians originally scheduled to appear at the 17th Festival. Plus, concert videos from SweetWater Surreal Live will also be broadcast offering those who didn’t attend a chance to enjoy a virtual music moment and others to relive their live music experience.
Watch for updates on our social media platforms and on sweetwatermusicfestival.ca .