Newswire | Indian River Festival Renamed to Under the Spire Music Festival for 27th Season


Kataganek/Kensington, PEI (May 27, 2022) – After many years of wonderful performances in Historic St. Mary’s, Indian River Festival has announced their 27th season under a new name: Under the Spire Music Festival. With this change, the mandate and core ideals of the Festival will continue to build on a nearly three decade-long legacy of beautiful music set in an unparalleled venue. Since its founding in 1996, Under the Spire Music Festival (USMF) has hosted some of the best Canadian performers and strives to present musical excellence spanning multiple styles. No matter the artist or genre, beautiful music will always be welcome in the summer at Historic St. Mary’s.

The Festival began as a few stand-alone concerts to save Historic St. Mary’s; soon after, it grew into a small concert series called Midsummer Magic. Fast forward a few decades and USMF has since grown into a fully-fledged, internationally-renowned festival. Our goal is to build on the early legacy to create an extraordinary experience for Islanders and visitors alike. All are welcome to come witness some magic Under the Spire, but the Festival recognizes the many barriers that may prevent some audience members from attending.

USMF recently announced their 2022 season concerts, but the Festival is excited to announce the schedule of community events being offered at Historic St Mary’s and surrounding areas from June to September. In addition to the ever popular Open Stage event, which welcomes anyone to the St. Mary’s Stage to perform in their favourite genre on a world-class stage, USMF has additional free concerts, as well as music and wellness activities planned all summer long. The first community event of the season will see a partnership with Lennox Island First Nations to offer a free concert on June 20th to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day.

The Festival is the recipient of two inaugural grants from the PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being which will allow the Festival to offer free, accessible community events from July to September. With this support, USMF is planning the Community Ceilidh Concert Series (CCCS) and will partner with the Town of Kensington and other local businesses for the first ever Kensington Music & Wellness Week (KMWW).

The Community Ceilidh Concert Series (CCCS) grew from recognition of barriers for audiences searching for accessible entertainment. This free concert series will feature four ceilidhs celebrating different communities: Families (July 2), LGBTQIA2S+ community (July 19), Franco-Acadian community (August 20), and the final ceilidh entitled Nostalgia (Sept 10) is dedicated to Island seniors. There will be a shuttle bus to provide transportation from Charlottetown to Historic St. Mary’s and back for all four concerts, and the Festival is working with local community care homes and long term care homes by hiring Pat & The Elephant to provide transportation for individuals who otherwise would not feel comfortable traveling to Historic St. Mary’s for music. “There are many studies identifying the power of listening to music as a community,” says Lindsay Connolly, Executive Director of Under the Spire Music Festival, “I’m so happy to work with groups like Camp Triumph, PEERS Alliance, Acadie IPE, La Musée Acadien, and local seniors and community homes to provide them with a space dedicated to great music and community” A full schedule of events can be found on the Under the Spire Music Festival website.

The Kensington Music & Wellness Week is a partnership between the Festival, the Town of Kensington, and local businesses like Ship to Shore, Luna Yoga, Singing Sands Music Therapy, and more to provide a week of wellness activities including a musical focus. With activities from community dinners, music in the Kensington gazebo, 50% tickets to USMF’s Midsummer Magic opening night, music listening hours in Historic St. Mary’s, drum circles facilitated by Singing Sands Music Therapy, and yoga classes accompanied with live music, there will be activities for all ages and interests. Mayor Caseley comments, “The Town of Kensington is very pleased to be able to partner with community minded organizations in providing barrier free access to a full week of activities related to music and wellbeing”. We invite everyone to join us in the Kensington community from August 3 to August 10. A full schedule of events can be found on the Under the Spire Music Festival website.

The PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being is an independent, incorporated not-for-profit organization. It was created in 2021 as a response to community-informed recommendations to enhance resilience and make upstream investment a priority. The Alliance aims to ensure all people living in Prince Edward Island have an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain the best possible mental well-being throughout their lifetime.” Music develops core life skills like communication, supports responsive and intergenerational relationships through shared experience and offers coping tools that help reduce stress. By creating the Community Ceilidh Concert Series and the Kensington Music & Wellness Week, Under the Spire Music Festival will offer Islanders inclusive and accessible events that can actively support mental well-being. We are happy to be funding these two initiatives and following the impact,” said Karen Cumberland, Executive Director of the PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being.

After two years of cancellations, postponements, and capacity restrictions, USMF is excited to open the doors of Historic St. Mary’s and welcome as many people back into the venue as possible. Featuring over 28 concerts and community events, the 2022 season will see the return of some Festival favourites, as well as new performers and emerging artists. Live music connects us all, and opportunities to come together as a community are more important than ever. Step Inside the Music this summer at Historic St. Mary’s and experience the magic of live performance!

All concerts and events will  take place in Historic St. Mary’s on Hamilton Road in Indian River, PEI or in the town of Kensington. A full schedule of events including directions can be found on USMF’s website, by phoning the Festival’s administration office, or by visiting Historic St. Mary’s opening June 1st, 2022.

The Festival has received many accolades throughout the years, including the Kensington and Area Chamber of Commerce award for Community Impact, several Music PEI Awards for Livestream of the Year (2021), Event of the Year (2020) and for Achievement in Classical Music (2019); multiple ECMA nominations for event and venue of the year; twice named in the Globe and Mail as one of the best small summer classical music festivals in Canada; and most notably, listed as one of the top summer classical music festivals in Canada by CBC Music.

For more information on USMF 2022, visit our website:

Tickets are available via the website, or by calling or visiting the Festival office in Kensington: 902-836-4933.

Individuals and companies interested in partnerships are encouraged to contact Under the Spire Music Festival at [email protected].

About Under the Spire Music Festival

Presented by the Confederation Bridge, Under the Spire Music Festival (USMF) offers a summer long series of concerts in a magnificent heritage church located in idyllic rural Prince Edward Island. The internationally recognized Festival has been twice named by the Globe and Mail as one of the best summer music festivals in Canada and presents outstanding performances from a dynamic mix of some of the biggest names in Canadian music and exciting emerging talents. Now entering its 27th season in 2022, this summer-long festival attracts thousands of music lovers annually to the acoustically perfect Historic St. Mary’s, idyllically set overlooking beautiful Malpeque Bay, to experience the very best in folk, blues, jazz, classical, traditional, contemporary, and world music. Under the Spire Music Festival would be but a dream without the support from our incredible sponsors and funders. Thank you to the Government of Canada, the Cultural Development Division of Innovation PEI, SOCAN Foundation, Malpeque Bay Credit Union, Quality Inn & Suites: Garden of the Gulf, and to our presenting sponsor the Confederation Bridge.


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