Samoa Jazz and Arts Festival cancelled

The 2020 Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, as large gatherings all over the world are postponed or cancelled altogether. 

The festival's Director, Siteine Peta Siulepa, said the decision to cancel was made with the health of both the local community and international participants in mind.

“Our very recent experience with the measles epidemic has reinforced our obligations to keep our communities safe however we may - and in ways and taking steps that each of us can take to contribute to protecting and safeguarding our communities whilst doing our part to limit the spread of Coronavirus (C.O.V.I.D.-19),” she said in an email notifying partners of the decision.

“We look forward to again celebrating our mutual joy and love of music and the wider benefits of the Festival with you in the future.”

The Festival board is talking about how to commemorate International Jazz Day locally in a way that does not risk anyone’s health or safety, she added. 

Siteine said she is not personally disappointed in the cancellation at all, and that she is excited by the opportunity to focus more closely on Samoa’s local jazz talent.

“We are especially keen on building the talent of our children and young people through schools, church youth groups and community,” she said.

“We will look much more closely than before at how we do that. We have some great legends amongst us and we need to look at  how we build a succession plan, how we share our stories and pass on these stories about our early songwriters, lyricists and so on.”

The Festival was scheduled for April 30 to coincide with International Jazz Day. The United States Pacific Air Force Band, Australian guitarist Eddie Lolesi and music teacher Matatumua Opeloge Ah Sam and his students were booked to perform, as well as several local musicians including the National Orchestra of Samoa. 

Also scheduled were musicology workshops, sound engineering workshops with Mack Tane who helped deliver the sound for the Pacific Games opening and closing ceremonies in 2019.  

“This coronavirus has stopped us all in our tracks,” Siteine said.

“Let’s focus on getting through this as best we can and taking care of our families and communities.”

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