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AbbeyFest turns one-day event into summer-long free concert series

J-P Mauro - published on 07/21/20

The popular Catholic festival makes the best of a hard situation.

AbbeyFest 2020, the premier celebration of family, friends, and contemporary Catholic/Christian music in the greater Philadelphia area, was forced to abandon efforts to organize a live, in-person event due to coronavirus restrictions. While the hundreds of families who attend the yearly Catholic music expo have been put out, thousands more have reason to celebrate, however, as AbbeyFest has altered their plans to provide a weekly online concert series that will allow more people than ever a chance to attend the event.

AbbeyFest, held annually at Daylesford Abbey in Pennsylvania, will look a lot different this year than in its previous iterations. Without a live festival atmosphere, there won’t be the usual wide range of kid-friendly activities, surrounded by a variety of food trucks, market stalls, and youth groups. The annual festival was also to feature dedicated priests to hear confessions, as well as prayer teams to meditate on the intentions of attendees and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

At first it may seem that the festival has lost too many of its attractions, but the transition from in-person to online comes with its benefits. As an online concert series the festival has the potential to be better attended than ever before, and now it is free for the whole family. On top of that, the event has been extended from just one day to every Friday night, at 8:00 ET!

The concert series has already been going strong for the last two months, with eight installments featuring Matt Maher, Fr. Rob Galea, PJ Anderson, Hanna Schaefer, Zander Waves, Francesca Larosa, Ivan Diaz, and Joe Melendrez. These concerts, which can be viewed for free on The AbbeyFest’s Facebook page, range from 30 minutes to just under a full hour of music by these prominent Catholic musicians. While the upcoming lineup of artists is yet to be announced, Taylor Tripodi and The Scally Brothers are two possibilities.

The recordings are intimate and the sound is great, especially for an online series. Most of the artists have been solo acts, but the most recent show, featuring Francesca Larosa, included a few more musicians that really made the event special. Click here to explore the catalog of 8 performances from AbbeyFest 2020’s online concert series.

The festival may not be exactly how organizers wanted it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the best out of a bad situation. In an interview with Catholic Philly, Edmond Grady, the event’s director of logistical operations, said that they hope that next year they can return to their in-person festival format. He said:

“The pieces of the festival that are hard to reconfigure are the confessions, the adoration,” he said, adding, “As nice as this virtual version is, this is not the ultimate end, because you need to have people together, sharing with you.”

For more information on AbbeyFest 2020, or to keep up with the schedule of weekly performances, click here.

Catholic Music
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