14 Of Canberra’s Finest Musical Talent Converge For COVIDEO Virtual Gigfest

Canberra artist and former The Voice contestant Aya Yves (Vendulka) is set to headline a virtual video festival designed to support local musicians who have lost their livelihoods since the onset of the COVID pandemic.

From Thursday, 16 July, Canberrans can logon to the online festival and check out Canberra talent like The Australian Voice Collective and I Progetti Chamber Choir.

The inaugural Canberra 2020 COVIDEO Virtual Gigfest is the brainchild of local business owner and aspiring musician Ben Ashman who wanted to show his support for local artists and help raise their profile. Ashman, who owns IT recruitment company Recruitment Hive, put out the call for entries on social media and paid all 15 artists he received a video performance from up to $800 each.

“It’s been more than 100 days since restrictions were imposed on entertainment venues, meaning hundreds of musicians have been without their livelihoods, and their passion to perform for live audiences,” Ashman said.

“One thing the crisis has reminded us of is how much we rely on the arts for our mood and quality of life. But many artists have seen their income drop to zero overnight. We wanted to support Canberra’s musicians in these tough times, and raise the profiles of local artists as much as we can.”

Before the pandemic, COVIDEO Gigfest headliner 21-year-old singer/songwriter Vendulka relied solely on performance income and was booked out more than three months in advance for shows all over country.

“Within the first 24 hours of the first COVID announcement, more than six months of income disappeared overnight,” Vendulka said. “I’d spent the past 12 months working on an EP to release this year and that whole plan went out the window.

“The band has since been perfecting our live show and we’re looking forward to playing for live audiences both nationally and internationally, as soon as restrictions allow.”

Violinist Michael Liu has used the time to rethink where he finds his audience members.

Michael Liu, taking out COVID frustration on his violin. Photo by Cole Bennetts

“COVID-19 sent a serious shockwave through the music and events industry,” Liu said. “Without gigs, many live musicians are without work and avenues to express their practice. Online and virtual opportunities have been one of the ways I’ve had to explore and reconceptualise where to find an audience, but it’s really tough to monetise.”

Liu will be performing beside supremely talented guitarist Michael Bones, giving their performance that extra kick.

Music Director of I Progetti Chamber Choir, Charis Messalina de Valence, said although the choir has just started rehearsing, performances are still not possible.

I Progetti Chamber Choir, circa 2019 in the Beforetimes

“Music is our lifeblood – not being able to sing together and share our performances has been an experience we thought never to have. It is unclear how live music will re-emerge from COVID, but we will find a way.”

Ashman said he hopes that when life returns to normal, Canberrans will seek out these artists, attend their performances and help return their industry to normal as fast as possible.

But in the meantime, they can still support and enjoy Canberra artists online with the launch of the COVIDEO Gigfest.

“We’ll make as much noise and generate as much buzz and viewing traffic as we can. This is our way of helping the Canberra region’s musicians and performers do what they do best.”

The Canberra 2020 COVIDEO Virtual Gigfest will be hosted and promoted on Recruitment Hive’s website at recruitmenthive.com.au/virtualgigfest and on their Facebook page.

The line-up of featured talent includes:

Aya Yves (Former The Voice contestant and two-time National Busking Champion Vendulka
Michael Liu, violinist with Michael Bones, guitarist
I Progetti Chamber Choir
Tom Woodward, singer/songwriter for three bands: The Mating Season, The Henchmen & Weekend of Noise
Eden Plenty, busker Weston Creek
Campbell Diamond, international award-winning classical guitarist
Dana Hassall, country music singer/songwriter
Dean Abbott, acoustic folk singer songwriter
Australian Voice Collective
Renae Stone
, professional acoustic musician
Acoustic trio Chillin
Arianne Tan, classical violinist
Tanner Clark aka Kloudii

Click here for all that wonderful musical action.

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