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Chamberfest reveals plans for 2021 summer festival

By Greggory Clark on May 10, 2021

Chamberfest organizers announced their 2021 summer festival today. The new program includes more than 25 online shows and interactive events, as well as the promise of in-person events if COVID-19 safety requirements will allow audiences between July 22 to August 4. Many shows are planned as hybrid events, both online and offline.

All concerts in the Marina Kun Series and Bytek Signature Series will be broadcast live from the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa with the opportunity for masked, physically-distanced listeners in attendance (barring a summer lockdown or stay-at-home order). Additional venues, livestream and in-person events will be revealed in June or July including late-night Chamberfringe, children’s programs, and pop-up shows outdoors.

“We have much more planned which we’ll reveal in June, including our late-night Chamberfringe, events with other local venue partners, outdoor concerts, and Chamber Chats: Festival Edition. Today’s just the beginning: these are the two series that take place at Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre,” says Artistic Director Carissa Klopoushak in a telephone interview.

Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. Photo: Zach Mendez.

Highlights of the announcement include Chamberfest regulars the Gryphon Trio (July 28), soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian with the Gryphon Trio, Mark Fewer, and Juan-Miguel Hernandez (July 29); the Ironwood Quartet featuring pianist Jamie Parker (July 26); a tribute to Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov performed by collectif9 (July 22); another Argentine connection via Mark Fewer presenting Astor Piazzolla’s tango music in celebration of the composer’s 100th birthday (July 25); pianist Stewart Goodyear and trumpeter Jens Lindemann with the Brassfire Big Band (August 4), who are performing the Canadian premiere of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” for piano and big band; as well as the duo of David Jalbert and Wonny Song performing works for two pianos (July 27); and Canadian guerilla-folk party-punk collective the Lemon Bucket Orkestra take the stage (July 30).

Ottawa Chamberfest had to cancel its 2020 summer festival—for the first time since 1994—when the pandemic started to affect Ottawa. The organization regrouped and has since had a monumental year by launching a hybrid online/offline concert series in fall 2020, expanding outdoor concert offerings, and appointing violinist Carissa Klopoushak to a four-year term as Artistic Director.

The Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre (CDDC) has undergone its own major changes in the last couple of years, starting with Carleton University’s purchase of the Centretown landmark in 2018. Chamberfest, Jazzfest, and other music presenters were hosting shows at the Dominion-Chalmers Church for years prior. They’re now partners in programming the downtown performing arts hub which was recently decked out with high-quality recording equipment.

With 950 seats, the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre sanctuary provides much-needed space for safe distancing. In the fall of 2020, Chamberfest hosted hybrid performances for up to 50 listeners in person and an online option. Photo: Alexander Vlad courtesy of Chamberfest.

“They have a lot of experience in production and classical music as well, it really bodes well for us at Chamberfest,” says Klopoushak of the new music hub. “We use a bit of their team and some of our own production crew for concerts.”

There are up to 10 workers involved in the production of each livestream performance from camera operators to audio engineers, and an expert musician whose job it is to read the concert score—always one line ahead—to anticipate key moments for the producer editing multiple camera angles on the fly.

“When you capture footage from four cameras and edit it later, you have every option in editing. In our case, we’re doing it live… I’m a true believer in live music,” says Klopoushak.

“I know there are a lot of prerecorded options out there. Sometimes that’s just what has to happen—we’ve had to do that. But when it actually happens in the moment, I find there is that energy that’s a really unique, important thing for artists and the audience,” she says.

Of note, passholders gain access to the festival’s online video library, allowing one to revisit live recordings on-demand for 24 hours after the live performance.

Chamberfest will take place from July 22 to August 4, 2021. The Festival Livestream pass costs $199 for early birds (until May 31) then $249 regularly (after June 1). Single tickets and multi-show passes go on sale in July. Visit for the complete program and schedule.