The 4th Annual Saipan Wind Band Festival, hosted by Mount Carmel School and sponsored by the Public School System, is happening this Sunday, April 25, but with no live audience due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Instead, the festival, which will take place from 3:30pm to 6:30pm at Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan’s Hibiscus Hall, will be recorded and shared with the public at a later date.
About 100 musicians are set to perform, consisting of Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band members, 88 middle schoolers from Saipan International School, Saipan Community School, Mount Carmel School, and Marianas High School, and a group of senior citizens. The event was originally scheduled to happen in April 2020, but was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The event will feature sets from each of the schools’ bands, and two combined band performances: a 40-musician beginner/intermediate band, and a 60-musician advanced band. The performances will feature the sounds of the flute, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium, and percussion. “This event will be a great opportunity for young musicians to experience and learn what they can’t at each school …We hope to continue this annual event as long as possible,” said Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band director Atsuko Eck.
When asked about her thoughts on a crowdless event, COVID-19, and organizing an event during a pandemic, Eck expressed sympathy for the parents of performers, thanks those who helped to make the event possible, and is just grateful to be back in the swing of things a year later.
“It was [a] difficult decision for us to not have any audience. But there was no other choice. Of course, I feel bad, especially for musician’s parents and families. But the main purpose of this event is giving opportunity to young musicians to meet new friends, watch other bands play, play together in [a] large ensemble, have fun through music. I’m simply happy and grateful to be able to achieve that goal, especially under this pandemic condition,” said Eck. “I appreciate all of support from the community, families and friends, each school, especially Mount Carmel School, who gave us big support to process the paperwork and facilities for rehearsal.”
Following the music festival, the MCS band is slated to have a spring concert, and Saipan Pacific Winds will play at the Memorial Day Ceremony, which is normally held at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Marpi.
The performances and pictures of the event will be uploaded to Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band’s Facebook page as soon as they are made available.