Keep Your Distance With Online Performances

Contributor Nikki Cole shares her list of the top live and online performances available in Canada and around the world to enjoy during times of social distancing


During the current Covid-19 crisis, we are all trying to do our part to flatten the curve. And for most of us, that means staying home.

Whether you’re a film connoisseur, a theatre buff, or a music lover, with all this time spent on our own or at home it’s inevitable that we will start to miss all the things we normally enjoy. Luckily, there are a variety of other ways we here in Canada and around the world can still enjoy the things we love while also staying home and healthy.

One of the first stops in your quest for fabulous art should be the Social Distancing Festival. This is a curated collection of links which Toronto-based playwright Nick Green created after his own play opening was cancelled. Artists from around the world have been sending him links to their works.

There are full productions of musicals and operas, composers performing songs in their living rooms, textile artists showcasing their work, dancers performing in amazing venues, original plays and more. You could spend many hours on this site alone!


Theatre and Film – From Stratford to Broadway


If theatre is what you crave, watch and explore The Stratford Festival from the comfort of your couch. Take a tour behind the scenes and witness everything that goes in to bringing one of their productions to life. From wardrobe, props and staging to fight rehearsals and so much more. Discover the talent that brings the world’s best plays to life!

Last fall, Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre resented a scaled-down version of Puccini’s La Bohème. Set in modern times, sung in English by an age-appropriate cast and performed in bars rather than opera houses, this opera on a shoe-string budget caused a sensation on tour stops from Alberta to Ontario. (Editor’s Note: Our main feature photo by Jessica Wittman, above, shows a scene from Against the Grain Theatre’s La Bohème at the Banff Centre.) 

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is hosting nightly opera streams, drawing on a huge catalogue of operas they’ve filmed in high definition. Every day they open up a new opera for free streaming – but be aware, they are only available until 3:30 p.m. the following day.

The Banff Centre has suspended the rest of the planned screenings of their 2019-20 Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Officials are currently working with filmmakers to get free screenings online. Visit their website to checkout some of the festival favourites as they become available.

If Broadway is more up your alley, check out BroadwayHD — a special streaming service that brings you the latest and greatest. The regular fee is $8.99 a month, but there’s a one-month free trial.


Live Music Brings Top Performers to Your Living Rooms


There’s something quite remarkable about a live performance, seeing the performer create music right in front of you and letting them see your response. A lot of performers crave that interaction, and are using streaming technology to do it. These shows are live, so to get the full experience you’ll want to be online when the performers are. But many of them remain available afterward, so you can tune in later if you prefer.

Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Grammy-winning musician and composer David Foster and his wife, Katharine McPhee, are hosting the ‘Kat and Dave’ show daily at 5:30pm Pacific Time via Foster’s Instagram account.
  • The Blue Jay Sessions normally involve Canadian musicians playing in songwriters’ circles every two months at a Calgary Now, this popular event has gone virtual – and weekly. The March 25  session featured Albertans Matt Blais, Lyndsay Butler, Brettyn Rose, and Devin Cooper. Tune in every Wednesday at 2pm Mountain Time.
  • Music PEI‘s Tiny Island Concert series will have its first show on March 29 at 8pm AT (artists not yet announced). Concerts will take place every Thursday and Sunday ‘until further notice’. Get more information via
  • On March 30 at 8pm ET, bilingual singer-songwriter Étienne Fletcherwill perform via Facebook Live as part of the NAC’s Canada Performs series.
  • On April 1, Cape Breton musician Ashley MacIsaac kicks off his ‘quarantine Ceilidh’ and has enlisted country singer George Canyon and comedian Bette MacDonald to perform for the live stream series on MacIsaac’s social channels. 
  • The 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards, which were to take place April 3 – 4 in Charlottetown, are moving online, presenting all 20 of its awards virtually. You can tune in via Facebook or on April 4 at 7pm ET.
  • Every day at noon the National Arts Centre Orchestra will take to YouTube and Facebook where they will showcase one of the wonderful musicians of Canada’s NAC Orchestra. Check out the first one, from March 23, featuring violinist Jeremy Mastrangelo as he performs Gavotte en Rondeau from Bach’s 3 partita for solo violin in E-major.
  • On March 26 at 3pm ET, Catherine MacLellanwill perform via Facebook Live as part of the National Arts Centre Canada Performs
  • For those of you in need of finding a way to keep the kids or grandkids busy, children’s singers songwriter Arthur L’aventurier will perform via Facebook Liveas part of the NAC’s Canada Performs series on March 27 at 9am.
  • On March 29 at4pm ET, saxophone quartet Quasar will perform via Facebook Live as part of the NAC’s Canada Performs series.


Classical Music To Soothe the Soul


Vancouver Symphony: On March 15, Maestro Otto Tausk and the musicians of the Vancouver Symphony gathered in an empty Orpheum Theatre to live stream their performance of Beethoven’s 6 Symphony, which is available for your viewing – and listening – pleasure.

Berlin Philharmonic: This legendary orchestra has announced that it will drop the subscription fee to its online video streaming service, known as its Digital Concert Hall, which offers more than 600 concerts spanning more than 10 seasons. There are also documentaries on the history of the orchestra and portraits of conductors and orchestra members. To take advantage of the offer, log on to the Digital Concert Hall ticket page with the code ‘BerlinPhil‘.

Last October, pianist Louis Lortie gave an all-Chopin recital at Venice‘s La Fenice opera house, playing both the Op 10 and Op 25 sets of Études

Canadian-American violinist Timothy Chooi has garnered huge critical and public acclaim, most recently when he won Second Prize at the 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium. Timothy has an online live stream recital at WQXR New York on April 1, or you can check out his YouTube channel for other recorded concerts.

On May 30, James Ehnes was the guest of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra to play Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 with conductor Giordano Bellincampi. Visit the orchestra’s website to check out James – as well as a variety of other artists online.

The McGill Symphony Orchestra filled Montreal‘s St Jean Baptiste Church in March 2019 with Mahler’s Symphony No 5 under the direction of longtime artistic director Alexis Hauser. It’s available to view online.

The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists is an elite training program at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. From its December 2019 concert at Mazzoleni Hall, the Academy Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings — without a conductor

The Royal Opera House in London has posted a large selection of its top performances on its You Tube channel. From The Caterpillar from Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland to the Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Julietthere’s tons to enjoy!

Turn your living room into your personal box at Wiener Staatsoper! The Vienna State Opera broadcasts 45 of its performances live on the Internet: enjoy opera and ballet on your computer, mobile device, Samsung SmartTV, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV.




Contributor Nikki Cole is a staff writer at Dockside Publishing.