21 April 2020 | Warsaw, Poland [Daniel Maikowski]
Logically it should have been cancelled, but organisers of the annual Hosanna Festival in Poland turned a potential Coronavirus disaster into an impressive online success.
The vision of the 2020 festival changed almost overnight due to new restrictions. With the Easter weekend festival forced to cancel at the prestigious Częstochowa Philharmonic concert hall, organisers decided to invite performers to the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary at Podkowa Leśna and broadcast their live performances via the Internet. That failed too as a ban on public gatherings was introduced across the country.
“Rather than give up, organisers recognised the need to experience the joy of worship and a sense of community more than ever before,” emphasised Pastor Marek Micyk, festival organiser and Youth Ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland. Micyk shared that the final idea for Hosanna ONLINE was born just a week before it began.
The Warsaw Adventist church turned out to be the “command centre” of this year’s festival. A small group of people appeared on the spot – the main organisers, a technical team and several contractors. However, all the performers were asked to record their music to be shared during the festival’s online broadcast.
“The response was amazing,” Micyk stated. “We received a lot of recordings.”
God IS and He works in our lives
The theme for this year’s Hosanna ONLINE festival was the slogan “I AM”, referring to one of God’s names.
“Who am I? Who IS God? Who am I for God? What is my IDENTITY?” These questions formed part of the reflections shared by various speakers.
Pastor Geert Tap from Stanborough Park church, England, was supposed to be one of the festival’s foreign guests. He could not travel but sent a recording which was broadcast during the Friday evening programme of words and music.
“What really matters is not who you are, but who is in you… Christ in you. Christ through you. Christ to all,” Tap stated.
In addition, Paulina Radke, Jacek Matter, Marek Micyk, Konrad Pasikowski, Tytus Gudzowski and Dariusz Lazar shared personal reflections and experiences with festival participants, with Micyk emphasising the valued promise of friendship with Jesus.
Church of gifts and talents
Hosanna is a festival of words and music, and this year around a dozen performers sang from flats, houses and even gardens scattered across Poland. These included bands and soloists with the four-part programme broadcast via the Adwentyści Warszawa Centrum YouTube channel. It also encouraged some new performers who might not have dared to perform on the big festival stage.
Karolina Harasim has been performing at Hosanna for several years. She shared that the unusual formula of the festival was a very interesting experience for her. “The idea of recording a song at home awakened my creativity,” she said. Video editing turned out to be the most difficult problem for her. “Each of us recorded audio and video separately on equipment of different quality,” she explained. “Perhaps there were no emotions like during a live performance, but you could have presented another form, e.g. a music video that was missing at the festival so far.”
Daniel Kluska is another festival regular. “Hosanna ONLINE was a bigger challenge for me than the previous meetings in Częstochowa,” he said. “In addition to preparing and working on the material I wanted to present, I had to think carefully about how to properly record the sound, the shots of individual cameras and the final editing of the whole mix, so that it retained the character of a live performance.”
Peeking behind the scenes
It took the efforts of the whole team to turn a stage festival into an online broadcast.
“The biggest challenge was to put the whole programme together, as well as preparing graphics, films and recordings with artists’ performances,” explained Tomasz Dutkowski, head of communication and media in the Warsaw Centrum Adventist church. Despite intense work on time pressure, he said, “We knew that we were facing something big, but we felt that it was something that people need in the current situation.”
The result exceeded all expectations. The festival not only met with a very good reception from the viewers (who commented on its chat in a lively but very positive way) but also proved to be a great success in terms of audience. With almost 1,000 connecting during peak viewing times, the number reached was far higher as many people watched the festival with their families and loved ones.
“The key to success was a group of determined and committed young people who were not terrified of the difficulties,” Micyk reflected. “The final effect is proof that where some see difficulties, others see the possibilities!”
Next year festival planners hope to return to the Częstochowa Philharmonic. However, now the ONLINE festival has been born, it looks like a project that will continue. This may include a second, ONLINE winter festival.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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