The 2022 Chamber Festival Cancellation


GHS students attending the NHMEA Chamber Festival in January of 2020.

Emily Hughes, Editor

On January 8th, 2022, the New Hampshire Band Directors Association and New Hampshire Music Educator Association collaborative Chamber Festival was slated to take place at the University of New Hampshire. Qualified students would spend the day practicing the repertoire they received beforehand with other students from around the state. In the evening, a concert would be held to showcase each ensemble. Unfortunately, the festival was canceled, and a new date is undetermined at this time.

The decision to cancel the festival was announced at the beginning of the week of January 3rd. A direct reasoning for the cancellation was not publicly specified, however many assume that it was due to schools withdrawing their students due to the dramatic rise in positive COVID-19 cases across New Hampshire.

Many music directors across the state consider Chamber Festival to be one of the best classical concerts available, as all attending students had to participate in the annual NHMEA Classical All-State Auditions and receive either the highest or second-highest score in their audition room. The students that typically attend this festival are qualified, dedicated musicians.

One of three GHS students meant to attend the festival was senior Gavin Palmer. Gavin would have been the principal cellist in the strings ensemble at this year’s festival. When Gavin was told that the festival was canceled, he was extremely disappointed, but not surprised. He had been paying close attention to the state’s COVID-19 pandemic situation, and assumed that it was only a matter of time before events started getting canceled. Despite this, he was still fairly distraught “especially because [he] would have been the section leader this year. [He] was extremely disappointed that the festival had been cancelled [his] Senior year, [his] last year of eligibility.”

Chamber Festival’s cancellation is not a singularity. Several other state-wide music festivals, such as the Granite State Invitational Music Festival (GSIMF) and the UNH Choral Gala, have both been canceled due to concerns for student and staff safety. All three of these festivals were supposed to occur throughout January of 2022 — now, the month is looking extremely bare.

GHS music educator and Activities Director Joshua Desrochers commented on the importance of Chamber Festival for students and the effects of its cancellation. “I have always believed it’s extremely important to provide opportunities for students to leave their regular school campus and experience music in other parts of our state,” he stated in an interview, “Also, when you take the best students from many schools and put them together, the synergistic experience nearly always allows them to create something they could never have created at their local school programs.”

Mr. D believes that the cancellation of Chamber Festival goes to show that we are still in a transitional period, and we are doing our best to move from “pandemic life” back to “normal life”. Despite this transition still being largely complicated, Mr. D, fellow music educator Mr. Belding, and GHS Vice Principal Mrs. McCann are working hard to find or create new musical experiences that will still give students an eventful and hopeful year.

If Chamber Festival were to occur remotely, much like the 2021 NHMEA Classical All-State Festival did last year, Mr. D would still encourage students to attend because he believes that these festivals, no matter how they happen, are “worthwhile experiences.” Gavin deeply expressed that he would certainly still attend the festival if it were to happen remotely.

Many music students like Gavin hope that this will be the end of the music festival cancellations, but they refuse to let this pandemic define their high school experience. Gavin appreciates everyone’s willingness to try something new, whether it be a virtual festival or a movie-esque winter musical. “Across the board, groups have found new ways to adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic and work around them, and I think that is definitely commendable,” he professed.

Currently, the NHMEA and NHBDA are working to reschedule Chamber Festival for sometime in the spring of 2022, but as of right now, there is no new official festival date.