A scene from the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music during a past performance at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Photo by Tim Greenway, courtesy of Bowdoin International Music Festival

The Bowdoin International Music Festival will return with in-person instruction beginning in June, but pandemic-related restrictions mean all concerts will probably be livestreamed without audiences from Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin College campus.

The festival announced its decision Monday. “Our priority this summer is the health and safety or our students, faculty, staff and community,” Elliot Rosen, chair of the board, said in a news release. “Momentum around vaccinations paired with Bowdoin College’s effective health procedures assured us we can indeed safely convene in person.”

To meet safety protocols, the festival will host 200 students, 50 faculty and 20 staff, a smaller group than in the past. “Students will follow policies similar to those developed by Bowdoin College during the past academic year. Many of these protocols, such as distancing and mask wearing, are familiar to festival participants and relatively easy to implement,” the release said. “Others, such as quarantining upon arrival, frequent COVID testing and isolation procedures for anyone who tests positive, present challenges to teaching and learning.”

Grace Bell, director of admissions and operations at Bowdoin, said the college’s success in managing its students on campus during the current academic year gave the college confidence to allow the festival to proceed.

Last year was the first time since the festival was founded in 1964 that it did not offer chamber music instruction or performance. While both will return this summer, it is unlikely audiences will be permitted on campus. Concerts will be livestreamed from Studzinski. The festival also plans to restrict enrollment to students who are 16 or older to align with vaccine eligibility in most states.

According to the festival’s release, international student attendance may decrease because of travel restrictions and other obstacles. The festival will offer online lessons for younger and international students. Daniel Nitsch, the festival’s executive director, said costs associated with health, safety and testing and the loss of ticket revenue will leave the organization with “a significant operating deficit,” but he said the festival was “fortunate to hold a strong financial position, especially for an arts nonprofit during a pandemic.”

The festival will cover the deficit with its reserves and will adjust its budget, he said. “The driver of this financial strength is the support from our community of donors and foundations. This summer is possible because of their generosity, even in the face of adversity, and will be critical as we move forward post-pandemic,” he said.

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