Tapestry revives Summer Box Concerts & reflects on their pandemic strategy

by | May 20, 2021 | Featured, Interviews, News

For a second year in a row, Tapestry Opera is bringing curbside concerts to Toronto in their summer Box Concerts program from June 15 to September 15, 2021. 

The brand new one-person show showcases opera, musical theatre and original songs to tell a story of connection and belonging that was specially created for this summer.

Performing as a soloist at Box Concerts is tenor Asitha Tennekoon, who will be joining a creative team featuring composer Benton Roark, playwright Donna-Michelle St Bernard and Tapestry’s Artistic Director and Box Concerts director Michael Hidetoshi Mori

“We were overwhelmed with the magic Box Concerts brought to Toronto communities last year,” said Mori. “We delivered 74 concerts around the city, with over 50 performed free to hospitals and care homes. This year I’m delighted to be relaunching the program with the goal of reaching twice as many people, bringing the collective experiences of beauty and joy to Torontonians suffering from over a year of isolation.”

Care Home Staff at summer Box Concerts

Care home staff watching Tapestry Opera’s summer Box Concerts in 2020. Photo: Dahlia Katz

The pop-up stage will be touring hospitals, care homes and private residences around the city to bring art to the front door of people in the midst of yet another summer of social distancing and lockdowns. 

“The pandemic demanded that we find new ways to engage with artists and Canadian audiences, and Box Concerts is a prime example: working with a high-calibre artistic team on new works designed for the people of Toronto. Box Concerts are so joyful for us because creating new Canadian opera is at the heart of what we do,” said Mori. 

Tapestry and Adapting to the Pandemic 

Since the pandemic began, Tapestry has been at the forefront of bringing opera to the masses while following health and safety guidelines. They were able to pivot to online streaming right away and with no hesitation.

When lockdowns were announced in March 2020, they had their live Songbook X concert lined up. However, rather than cancel the event, within a week they pulled together a streamable version with Krisztina Szabo and Chris Foley on March 21. 

Krisztina Szabó in Songbook X

Krisztina Szabó and Chris Foley in Tapestry Opera’s Songbook X livestream. Photo: Dahlia Katz

“We were really surprised by how communal that livestream felt. It was very emotional. Krisztina in particular was really dealing with the sudden and sweeping cancellations of her entire year, all at once,” said Executive Director of Tapestry Opera Jaime Martino in an interview with Opera Canada. 

During this time, many productions were being cancelled across the country with entire seasons being postponed indefinitely. For artists and creators, it was and still is a difficult time. But Tapestry learned to make shows for the online platform in a way that was interactive, including live chats, while still giving artists the opportunity to showcase their work. 

“I think [Songbook X] was one of the first indications that it didn’t have to feel like a compromise to do things online,” said Martino. 

 “That [Songbook livestream] took a bunch out of us, in a good way, like ‘let’s hustle and make something happen.’ I think we were very wary that we didn’t ever do that again – the change [a live show for something else last minute]. So, that’s when we started to think, let’s not plan anything that could be cancelled. Let’s try our best to plan things that can happen regardless of the circumstances,” said Mori. 

Asitha Tennekoon in summer Box Concerts

Asitha Tennekoon in Tapestry Opera’s summer Box Concerts in 2020. Photo: Dahlia Katz

Since Songbook X, Tapestry has hosted live streamed concerts, sketch-comedy web shows and pop-up Box Concerts to keep sharing their art regardless of the circumstances. 

Bookings and more information for Tapestry Opera’s summer Box Concerts can be found here https://tapestryopera.com/performances/box-concerts/.  



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