After almost having to cancel the long-standing Kiwanis Music, Dance and Speech Arts Festival due to a lack of volunteers, it is back and stronger than ever.
With a new board of directors in place the 87th annual festival started Wednesday, running to April 27, and has an increase of 250 entries this year.
“I have been stopped many times by people who noticed what was going on and expressed appreciation that we are able to continue,” said Kiwanis festival secretary Lorna Bull. “It is really wonderful that the festival is continuing on with more energy than ever.”
Festival organizers had their backs against the wall in October walking into the annual general meeting with no leads on who could fill vital positions because of a series of untimely situations where key roles were left empty. A plea to the community was successful and the festival lives on.
From March 6 to 13 contestants will be adjudicated on piano, classical voice and choral singing. Many of the students will use this as preparation before their music exams or as a goal to work towards.
“They also get to perform in front of an adjudicator that comes in, so not their regular teacher, and they have to play at a standard that is very high,” said Jan Webb, captain of the piano discipline. “Learning to be that kind of performer is exciting for these kids.”
It is just one of the reasons why 10-year-old Cole Piche enjoys competing at the festival.
“It is fun and I am really good at it,” he said. “I get to see how I am doing year-to-year.”
Piche has been playing the piano for about six years and will be performing with his sister Kate Piche in the pianoforte duet, but his favourite is the early keyboard category.
“Piano is just a fun instrument. I like the sound of it. I like early keyboard because those are the styles of music that I like,” said Piche.
For the first time ever, the festival is offering a new popular music discipline which includes rock, pop, country, jazz, blues, folk and original music which is scheduled to start on April 6. Those who move on from the Penticton festival will compete in Chilliwack at the provincial level from May 26 to 30.
The festival adjudicators for the first section of the festival (piano) is Ina Dkystra. The Alberta resident has over 30 years experience as an accompanist, performer, clinician, examiner, adjudicator and teacher. Dykstra holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Alberta, Graduate Degree courses in Art Song, Accompaniment, Chamber Music and Solo Performance, and holds a degree in Music Therapy from Capilano College.
Adjudicators for the second half of the festival, which starts after spring break, include Marliss Weber, Gaye-Lynn Kern, Andrea Gunnlaugson Furlan, Cathryn Croft, Sebastian Ostertag and Bob Gronowksi.
The Kiwanis Festival will wrap with the music and speech arts highlights and awards concert on April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre and the dance highlights and awards concert on April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Cleland. Tickets are $8 for each performance and available at festival venues and at the door.