June 18th, 2024

Music and speech arts festival returns

By Ry Clarke - for the Lethbridge Herald on March 29, 2022.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Annie Edwards performs 'Part of Your World' from Disney's The Little Mermaid at the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival Monday at the Yates Theatre.

The Lethbridge and District’s Music and Speech Arts Festival started this week with daily performances going on until April 9.
This will be the festival’s first time gathering in person since the COVID-19 pandemic restricted social gatherings, cancelling its 2020 festival and limiting its 2021 festival virtually. The 2022 festival will bring audiences back for live performances with 465 participants showcasing musical theatre, choral, piano, bands, and speeches.
Megan Wittig, general manager for the festival, says the event is a great opportunity for finding future success. “It gives you a chance to be heard by different professionals in the industry. When I competed in high school I ended up being adjudicated by my future teacher. When I applied to school, we [already] knew each other.”
Monday started the festival off with the Musical Theatre performances, seeing performances by kids as young as eight competing at the Yates Theatre. Competitors used a variety of props, sets, and costumes to block and stage a musical piece sung and performed live. Preparing all year students showcased their work with musical accompaniments singing to audiences of family, peers, and professionals.
Wittig says they will have the opportunity to send for Ballad and Up-Temp, allowing more categories and age ranges for more chances to compete provincially.
“It’s all based on performance and adjudication, the adjudicators have sheets where they know what they need to recommend and then we have meetings when they’re done and we take that list to the scholarship board.”
Wittig says the group also works to help raise funds for the kids to go to provincials, around $125 for a solo class.
The festival will have daily schedules for sessions and classes with performances and live adjudication giving contestants the chance to compete in provincial festivals.
Wittig says adjudication can help competitors towards attending the Alberta Provincial Music Festival in Edmonton.
“The Provincial Recommendation is a really exciting experience. You get to go and compete with kids your age from all over the province and then you get to see what else they’re doing, too, and learn new music.”
The festival offers an opportunity for amateur performers to perform and get a chance for an adjudicator to grade them helping them learn and get real world advice on their craft. With over $10,000 available in awards and scholarships the festival will also award the Rosebowl to its top performer of the Festival, presented in May after everything has been tabulated.
The festival has been running in Lethbridge for over 90 years with affiliations helping give participants the opportunity to be recommended for provincial festivals.
This year the events will be open to the public at the Yates Theatre, the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, and Saint Augustine’s Church, while events at local schools may have restrictions on attendance. Tickets are $3 per event or $15 for a program which also allows admission to all events.
Events today include Musical Theatre at the Yates starting at 9 a.m., followed by Solo Guitar, and Jr Voice in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.

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