Festival holds key for host of talent
FINGERS are set to fly today as pianists flaunt their talents on the fifth day of this year’s Swindon Music Festival.
So far around 300 people have competed in the 105th annual festival in a showcase of musical talent and skill in one of the town’s biggest and most prestigious cultural events.
During the nine-day festival, about 1,000 local amateur and expert singers and musicians will fill Christ Church and the Arts Centre with sound as they hope to join the ranks of some internationally renowned musicians.
Geoff Walters, chairman of the Swindon Music Festival, has so far been impressed with the skill of the musicians who have come along.
He said: “We just want more people to come and enjoy the music because there’s a lot of great music going on for the whole of the week with three sessions a day.
“We had a really good night on Saturday when we had many adult singers and the choirs.
“There have been a lot of guitars and a lot of singing so far, but over the next few days there will be a lot more instrumentals, with a lot of piano and more strings.
“With the choirs as well so far there have been about 200 or 300 people competing in one way or another. Entries have been higher than they have been in the past as well. Normally we expect around 600 but this year we have had around 630, which is very good.”
Ellen Foster, Sam Murphy, William Watts, Simon Crew, Ross Rausch, Lucas Landure and Jessica Hourston in the instrumental ensemble
Many former competitors have gone on to successful careers, including film star Diana Dors.
Diana competed under her real name, Diana Fluck, in 1938, and Sarah Covey, who was crowned vocal and supreme champion in 2006 and 2008 and went on to appear in London’s West End in We Will Rock You.
Meanwhile, jazz superstar Jamie Cullum also performed in the Swindon Music Festival in 1988.
There are also stars among the judges, including Christopher Field, a singer, double bass player and composer, who sang at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey.
Ken Kite, of Swindon Music Festival, said the showcase was an essential part of the Swindon calendar.
He said: “It’s so diverse, we have instruments as well as singing. It is a really important event in Swindon.
“The musicianship within Swindon is tremendous and the standard this year is impressive. What we have heard is quite remarkable. There are so many people committed to putting on the festival every year.”
The festival was set up in 1909 as a one-night choir festival at the Mechanics’ Institute. It was the brainchild of R G Cripps, who wanted to launch a festival in his home town after enjoying an eisteddfod.
The festival will culminate in a Supreme Championship on Saturday, March 29.
SOME OF THE TROPHY WINNERS
- Natalie Forty won the Mervyn Penny Trophy in the jazz, any voice category.
- Stephanie Walsh won the Iris Bradbury trophy in the Gilbert and Sullivan category
- Christ Church’s choir won the Church Choir Shield
- Lesley Hopewell won the Jack Winter Memorial Trophy in the novice, any voice category
- The Olive Love Trophy for the opera of any period category went to Polly Leech
- The Corinium Players Guitar Ensemble in the Instrumental Ensemble: 14 and under category won the Swindon Music Co-Operative Trophy
- Orlagh Sharrock won the Holmes Music Guitar Trophy in the Guitar Solo : Grades one - two category
- The Muriel Amor Intermediate Bach Trophy went to Joe Forrester in the Piano Baroque Solo – 16 and under category
- Michael Viret won the Phyllis Mann Memorial Trophy for Music Hall Song
- The Bach Cup went to Tomoko Nishiyama in the Piano Baroque Solo – 17 and over category
A full list of winners will be published on the Swindon advertiser website at www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk.
- 9am - piano solo, beginners
- 10am - piano solo, seven and under
- 10.45am - piano solo, grade one
- 11.20am - piano solo, 11 and under
- 1.30pm - piano solo, grade two
- 2.30pm - modern popular piano solo, nine and under
- 3.25pm piano solo, nine and under
- 3.55pm - piano sonata solo, 16 and under
- 6.30pm - instrumental Ensemble (Sym Ensemble Trophy)
- 6.50pm - family instrumental ensemble (Arkell Family Cup)
- 7.15pm - instrumental recital, 17 and over
- 8.15pm - instrumental concerto
- 8.45pm - instrumental solo (jazz), grades five to eight
- 8.55pm - strings, grades seven to eight
- 9.05pm - recorder solo, grades five to six.