Thursday, April 18, 2024

Pianist Neil Pearlman, a performer at BCMFest, says he appreciates that organizers are still “ making something happen” despite a crush of Covid cases. (Photo: Jesse Pearlman)

For the second year in a row, Club Passim will take its beloved BCMFest online amid a meteoric rise in reported Covid cases.

The Boston Celtic Music Festival runs Thursday through Sunday with more than two dozen artists showcasing the region’s deep tradition of music and dance from Irish, Scottish and other Celtic communities, including Cape Breton. The festival historically has drawn hundreds of attendees for in-person concerts and workshops; this year anyone can “attend” through free livestreams (with suggested donations) on Passim’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

While Passim has hosted in-person concerts for months and will continue to (with vaccine requirements and mask mandates), an event drawing in many different acts and attendees is difficult to put on in a safe and satisfying way, BCMFest lead organizer Summer McCall said.

“Of course there’s an element of disappointment that it’s not the raging festival that it is every year, but this is definitely the safe choice with all things considered right now,” McCall said. 

This 19th celebration of the festival will, as always, feature a glut of talent from primarily New England over the course of four nights. Some likely highlights include Hanneke Cassel & Mike Block, Rakish, Jenna Moynihan, Molly Pinto Madigan and Alasdair White, who’s from northern Scotland via Brooklyn. The aspiring musicians in the audience can attend virtual workshops for Irish flute with Shannon Heaton and White’s “Tunes of the Scottish Gaidhealtachd.”

“BCMFest has been a vital gathering place for the community,” said pianist Neil Pearlman, who will perform Friday with mandolinist Ethan Setiawan. “So many other events are canceling without any virtual component, [and] it’s admirable that they’re making something happen to still bring the community together and share new music with each other. I’ve been working on videos with several of the acts I was planning to perform with, so the chance to collaborate and make new music has remained.”

Starting Feb. 1, Passim will require patrons to show proof of a booster vaccine if their second shot of vaccine was taken more than six months earlier.

BCMFest has a suggested donation of $25 by the night. Information is here.