The First VIRTUAL Shuswap Music Festival

"Cloe Afton Papworth performs before a video camera to record her vocal entry for the First Virtual Shuswap Music Festival held in April 2021."
Photo Credit: C. Papworth
“Cloe Afton Papworth performs before a video camera to record her vocal entry for the First Virtual Shuswap Music Festival held in April 2021.” Photo Credit: C. Papworth

A “virtual” festival has its advantages. Primarily, everyone, including family from afar, can view online most of the 178 performances entered into this year’s 20th Shuswap Music Festival– the first in a virtual format.  Each performance, videoed and uploaded to YouTube, was forwarded to the adjudicators for individualized comment and critique. Performances in Strings, Piano and Vocal are now available until June 30th for public viewing at  In addition, the full list of awards and scholarships totalling $4915.00 is posted online.

Missing from the video lineup are the school bands. Performance and adjudication are occurring live at the schools. Final results of this competition and the announcement of the SASCU Band Awards totalling $500.00 will occur later in May.

Although reduced in size to meet COVID restrictions, the Festival continued to attract a high calibre of contestants. Adjudicators selected all Festival winners. Autumn Sunderland won “Best of the Fest in Strings”. Teslyn Bates, who is currently working on her ARCT, won “Best of the Fest in Piano” as well as the Klein Family Award that supports further music study at an advanced level.  Cloe Afton Papworth won both the “Best of the Fest in Vocal” and The Mary Fowler Memorial Scholarship that recognizes excellence in vocal performance. Hilary Vukadinovic, pianist, won the Blair Borden Memorial Award. Blair Borden, a former teacher and founding member of the Shuswap District Arts Council, wished to support musicians in pursuing an education in music.

What was it like to compete virtually? When asked, Cloe Afton Papworth responded “I’m thankful for technology and what we are able to do. But in live performances, when you are in the same room watching others perform, you share a connection, and feel the energy, the nerves. It’s exciting!” Although glad that a virtual Festival could be held this year, she missed seeing all the parents and friends at the sessions and Gala concert. “The Shuswap Music Festival enables one to be a part of something bigger, something done in the community… and have the community attend and connect with you. It’s also beneficial to my music career,” added Cloe, ” to compete in different areas and levels such as the provincial festival.”  Ms. Papworth, who graduated from High School in 2020, plans to study Classical Voice at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. 

The adjudicators recommended seven students from amongst the Festival participants to compete at the virtual provincial BC Performing Arts Festival, June 1-5. They are: Teslyn Bates (Piano-Intermediate); Autumn Sunderland (Strings-Junior A); Evje Knutson (Vocal-Junior Classical); Saige Dubyna (Vocal-Intermediate Classical); Etoile Brown (Vocal- Junior Musical Theatre); Eysten Martin (Vocal-Intermediate Musical Theatre); and Cloe Afton Papworth (Vocal-Senior Musical Theatre).

Next year, hopefully, a post-Pandemic Festival will include the return of live performances, ensembles, choirs and a celebratory Gala concert for friends, family and the community. Volunteers make the Festival happen–join us. Sponsors including the three Rotary Clubs of Salmon Arm, City of Salmon Arm, Salmar Theatres, Shuswap Community Foundation, SASCU and private donors ensure that the Festival continues. Thank you to all who support the Shuswap Music Festival. Discover more at and follow us on Facebook.