A lot can happen in 10 years, as the past decade of noon hour concerts at Southminster United Church proves.
Introduced as a six-part “Lenten” series in 2013, Doors Open for Music at Southminster (DOMS) quickly caught on, and by popular demand was extended to a full 10-month annual calendar of events that has lasted to this day.
Encompassing a broad range of styles, from classical, to jazz, choral, chamber music, and even some rock n’ roll, the program has retained broad support from music lovers across Ottawa, and since 2020, even further afield due to the addition of live streaming.
More than any one factor, it’s a “perfect formula” that has kept things going: the free access model coupled with a unique presentation time; an army of talented artists keen to play; audiences eager to hear them and donations to match costs at almost supernatural consistency.
Through a mixture of strong patron support and expert stewardship by the team Southminster, the series endured, even through one of the most challenging periods for the performing arts in recent history, without missing a single week!
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, DOMS was coasting on a great deal of momentum: the series has an average of 150 weekly attendees, donations at nearly $8 per head, and seemed infinitely sustainable.
Well before the pandemic, the idea of live streaming concerts to the internet had been a serious but nonessential plan. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, following examples such as “Live at the MET,” if those unable to attend concerts in person could watch live broadcasts from anywhere in the world?
And then in March 2020, as public gatherings suddenly and jarringly ceased, this eventual goal suddenly became the key to survival. Initially, lacking any infrastructure, artists broadcasted performances themselves with personal devices to Facebook.
This was a period of unprecedented originality as people improvised solutions to a common problem: having artists stream concerts from their own living rooms additionally enabled the series to present concerts from far off locales including Tel Aviv and Berlin! Eventually, DOMS engaged a soundman with dedicated streaming equipment, and concerts returned to Southminster’s Sanctuary, though still with empty pews.
Through the entire period, viewers and long-standing patrons demonstrated their support with sustained donations through DOMS’ donation portal on Canadahelps.org and by cheque through the mail. It is worth underscoring: without this support, the series would have been obliged to cease.
Today, as widespread vaccination against the virus has taken root, live audiences are returning with confidence once again. Numbers have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but the trends are positive.
The silver lining of the past two years has been the gift to DOMS of a permanent streaming infrastructure, and additionally an original website (developed in the darkest days of the lockdown).
And so, it is with a mixture of tremendous pride and gratitude that we announce the 10th anniversary lineup this winter. Visit DOMS613.com to view the complete winter lineup, which runs from January 11 through March 29, 2023 (Note the Winter series will be followed immediately by the Spring series running April through June.)
On behalf of all the artists and the team at Southminster, thank you for ten years of support!
Roland Graham, DOMS Artistic Director
Featured in the January 2023 OSCAR.