After spending the holidays at home in Norway, skiing with his family and enjoying some virtual performances via the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, Calgary Philharmonic Music Director Rune Bergmann started 2021 by tuning in to the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s concert — this is the world’s largest classical music event, watched online by millions of people from different countries, although the seats in the concert hall were empty this year due to COVID-19. Bergmann says the event included one of the most important speeches in music history — a message of hope from Italian conductor Riccardo Muti: “We all had a very, very difficult year. Actually, an ‘annus horribilis’ as, in Latin, I would say. But we are still here, believing in the message of music…. Music is not only a profession, but it is a mission! It is why we do this work. A mission for what? To make society better.” You can find links to the concert and the full text of Maestro Muti’s inspirational speech on the Vienna Philharmonic Facebook page.

Closer to home, the Calgary Phil isn’t the only local arts organization providing our community with virtual arts and culture experiences, and while we’re busy preparing our Winter Series of new concerts, we want to share five opportunities available to you. This is a great way to stay engaged in the arts from home while supporting your community at the same time.

1. January is usually hopping for our friends at One Yellow Rabbit as they present the annual High Performance Rodeo. Although they had to postpone their 35th annual festival, they’re keeping busy with Thirty-Five For Thirty-Five — Who Are You Now?, a curated collection of works by 35 artists presented for free via Instagram @hprodeo and posted one day at a time for 35 days starting 11 January. Learn more >>

2. Honens@Home brings piano into your home with weekly videos and music clips featuring Honens Competition competitors and laureates. From past recordings to virtual performances from home, you’ll find an extensive selection of music to enjoy. Learn more >>

3. Inglewood’s Esker Foundation continues to welcome people to explore and experience art, expanding the gallery’s free digital resources to include mini-documentaries, exhibition photos and videos, behind-the-scenes experiences, audio commentary by artists and curators, and more. Learn more >>

4. Fans of mystery theatre will enjoy Vertigo Theatre’s radio plays — these audio-only performances can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The episode titled The Voice on the Wire is our favourite, as it has a mysterious musical tie to the story. Learn more >>

5. The Calgary International Film Festival has a virtual option for its 2021 Top Docs series, with a different feature-length documentary streaming each month online. Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide — about a graffiti artist who became a major force in the 1980s New York City art scene — is available from 4 to 7 February. Learn more >>

January 2021