TIME is running out for aspiring musicians and singers to get their entries in for the 104th annual Swindon Music Festival.

The festival is open to choirs, vocalists either solo, duets or groups, musicians playing the pianoforte, strings, woodwind, guitar, ensembles, brass instruments, keyboards and church organ.

Christ Church and Swindon Arts Centre in Devizes Road, Old Town, plays host to this year’s festival from Thursday, March 14, to Saturday, March 23.

The festival is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals and is also a registered charity. 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 first festival had six entries. Last year the festival had more than 600 singers and musicians, all taking part in front of professional adjudicators.

Chairman of the festival, Geoff Walters, said: “The festival provides a platform for amateur performance combined with an educational element from professional musicians.’’ The musicians compete for various trophies in the different classes including the Swindon Advertiser Cup for Girls’ or Boys’ Solo.

The adjudicators this year are Ann Lampard, Richard Deering and Roy Robinson with Swindon professional concert pianist and founder of the Swindon Recital Series Paul Turner as accompanist.

Last year’s winners were sisters Yuriko and Akane Gonda who became the supreme champions.

Other past winners include Sarah Covey, who starred in London’s West End in the musical We Will Rock You. In 1938 Diana Fluck, better known as the film star Diana Dors, competed in a recitation class for girls aged seven to 10 years old and in 1988 and 1989 jazz superstar Jamie Cullum competed in the under nine piano solo and piano duet classes.

The musicians come from all walks of life and all ages, competing in classes for the under 8s up to the mature voice.

Entry forms need to be returned to competitors secretary Dawn Ball by January 18. For more information call 01793 644051 or visit www.swindonmusicfestival.co.uk