Christopher DOnison Director of Music by the Sea

Message from the Artist Director

“During a concentrated period in the summer musicians would take in
the powerful inspiration this stunning part of the world elicits—and it
would focus the muse. And as the years passed,
the music would draw audiences to a region which
is ascendant—which is growing, culturally and eco-
nomically—the Pacific Northwest. I invite you to share
in this vision.”

I wrote the above two paragraphs back in 2006. That year we launched the first festival. It grew and eventually in 2012 we were able to launch the MBTS Fellowship Artist Mentorship Program.  Our artistic reputation continued to grow and resonate through-out the arts community in Canada and abroad and I invite you to peruse past programmes and artist-rosters on our website…I continue to marvel at them.

Had it not been for COVID-19 , 2020 would have been our 15th Season — but like much in the world it was cancelled. In 2020 we had plans to add a week of concerts in Victoria at the brand new Victoria International Marina in its beautiful venue which very much echoes the Rix Centre at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. This would have followed the MBTS Festival in Bamfield.

In 2020 and the spring of 2021, in an effort to maintain the possibility of a future in Victoria as well as Bamfield, we live-streamed  a series of 10 weekly concerts from my apartment in the Janion Building  which had a grand piano overlooking the new Johnson Street Bridge just across the bridge from Victoria International Marina (VIM). There were no audiences in the room.

Following that there were a series of live-stream concerts from inside the VIM with no live audiences.  The first two were in August 2020 and the third was a November telethon-style fundraiser for both the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and Music by the Sea from which we split the funds raised.

In January of 2021 we began to live-stream one concert at the end of every month from VIM up until June and they continued to be joint fund-raisers for MBTS and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.  Some of them were re-broadcast by CHEK TV.  In June of 2021 some restrictions began to be lifted so we proceeded with a small-scale version of our Mentorship Program in Bamfield but not the festival. No concerts were permitted indoors at the Rix Centre but the Mentorship Artists did perform a concert outside at Brady’s beach for the community.  More restrictions were lifted in July and so we scheduled a festival of concerts to be at VIM in August of 2021.  However, by the time we got to August there was another wave of the pandemic and so we rescheduled that festival for January of 2022.  By that time the vaccine passport program was in place and we were able to accomplish presenting that festival.

It is hard to overstate the difficulties we have all experienced in this field of the arts.

In 2022 we  implemented our original plan for 2020 which was to do our MBTS Fellowship Artist Program in Bamfield in July,  followed by a festival in Bamfield which we then transport to Victoria for a shorter run downtown in Victoria Inner Harbour at the Victoria International Marina. This proved to be too soon for the public to come back at pre-covid levels and so we experienced a lot of difficulties.  In 2023 we embarked upon a trimmed-down season to help us build back to the number of concerts and the mentorship progam where we were prior to the pandemic. We are now planning a 2024 season that will continue to build back.

I wish to thank all of the special sponsors and donors that have helped us through the last three years and in particular the Victoria International Marina and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.  All of our progress to date could not be possible without the support of all of our sponsors, donors, volunteers, artists, audiences, Members of the Board of Directors, and a host of other MBTS friends—and I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to them all.

Christopher Donison
Founder and Artistic Director

Music by the Sea at Bamfield British Columbia