Festival 2011: Large entry for the area’s annual major musical treat

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ARBROATH will be alive with the sound of music in two different venues as the 79th Arbroath & District Musical (Competitive) Festival gets under way at the Webster Memorial Theatre on Wednesday, March 9.

The four-day event culminates the following Saturday, March 12, with the announcement of several prestigious awards including the Blue Riband.

The Piping and Drumming contest will take place at Arbroath Academy on Saturday, March 12.

The festival organisers are absolutely delighted with the number of entries and they look forward to welcoming youngsters frae a’ the airts to compete in an array of classes.

Sheena Guthrie, chairman of the festival executive committee, said: “As befits our policy of introducing new classes and updating the festival we have done so again this year. A new class for Angus Primary School choirs has been introduced to meet the changing situation regarding visiting specialist music teachers to the schools.

“This class has proved to be very popular with eight schools participating. The schools have also been helped by the generosity of Mr Brian Soutar of Stagecoach buses who have provided transport for the choirs to and from the festival.

“We are all indebted to Mr Soutar and, as a result, the festival has been enriched. Many children from throughout Angus will be able to say that they participated in our 79th Festival.”

She continued: “We have also been fortunate in the presentation of a trophy for this new class from St Thomas RC Primary School, Arbroath, in memory of Loraine Cant who, for many years, tutored the children for their appearance at our festival. Loraine was also well-known in many other musical circles in the town.

“Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Webster Memorial Theatre booking office which will alleviate the need for parents and spectators to wait in line on the day of the performance they are attending. Day tickets and season tickets will also be available.”

On Wednesday the opening day, children from Abbey Playgroup will open proceedings with singing games and performed song and this will be followed by Inverbrothock School children who will perform in the singing games.

Eight Angus school choirs will then take to the stage followed by primaries four and five and one, two and three choirs. Also on the Wednesday there will be a chance to hear young people playing piano solos, duets and trios.

In the afternoon, vocal solos, school age instrumental ensembles and further school choirs including the Psalmody class and Sea Shanties take place. Wednesday evening has a Scottish theme with trophies and medals being competed for in Scottish and Burns songs classes in the theatre while young keyboard players will perform in the Assembly Hall.

Almost 50 entries have been recorded for percussion classes which take place in the theatre on the morning and afternoon of Thursday, March 10, and there certainly will be some excellent performances for the public to listen to.

Young instrumentalists including wind, ‘cello and violin solos also get their chance to compete for an array of trophies throughout the day in the Assembly Hall.

Thursday evening features junior soprano solo, under-18 girls’ singing, boys’ vocal solos and Burns songs.

Brass players take centre stage at the Webster Memorial Theatre on the Friday morning. So much is heard about the wonderful playing of several of the youngsters who are taking part in the festival and now in Arbroath it is your chance to listen to their performances. You are sure to be uplifted by the experience.

On the Friday morning recorders and fiddles are followed in the afternoon with piano classes which feature pianists from as far afield as Banchory and Stonehaven and the winner of the and Haydn/Mozart sonata class will be decided.

The festival committee is delighted that verse speaking is to feature in this year’s event. Two choirs from Inverbrothock Primary School will be on stage at the theatre on the Friday afternoon and the committee members are hopeful that these performances will stir interest from other parts of the county and that verse speaking may once again flourish in the future.

Guitarists from throughout Angus and Dundee are to have their performances adjudicated by world-renowned maestro Allan Neave, once a winner of the Festival Blue Riband who will, time permitting, also present a master class.

In the evening, classes include school age vocal recital, gold medal vocal, instrumental gold medal, light popular musical solo not under 18 Burns and Scottish songs.

The Saturday morning programme commences with Light Popular musical solos under 15 and later 15 and over. Listeners will have the opportunity to hear songs from many of the most popular shows. In the afternoon senior piano solo, oratorio solo, senior wind solo, light opera solo, operatic aria and school age instrumental recital will all take place in the theatre.

On the same day at Arbroath Academy almost 100 pipers and drummers will be bringing the music of Scotland to town and there are sure to be some stirring performances. The competition starts at 9.30 a.m. and continues until late afternoon.

The final session at the theatre on the Saturday looks set to be a great occasion with the West Kirk Choir, Carnoustie Choir, the Hill Street Singers, Dundee Gaelic Choir and Arbroath Male Voice Choir all taking part. There is a good entry in the Gilbert & Sullivan solo which is always entertaining and two competitors will sing in the vocal solo premier class.

Gold Challenge Medals will be awarded to the best vocalist and instrumentalist before the main awards are announced. These include the 2011 Tomala Piano Scholarship, the Elizabeth Gordon Singers Vocal Scholarship, the Adjudicator’s Award for achievement, the Morrison Trophy and Medal for the best young performer and the ultimate award, the 2011 Blue Riband.

Mrs Guthrie concluded:, “Everything is set for this popular event and we are hopeful that the public will come along and support the performers.

“We are very pleased to welcome Margaret Smith and Walter Blair who will adjudicate vocal and instrumental classes and Alan Neave. Brothers Ronnie and Gordon Clark are to judge piping and Brian Martin and Peter Carter, drumming.

“We hope our adjudicators enjoy their time with us and we are sure all our competitors will gain from their advice and encouragement.”

Programmes will be on sale at Haqs, High Street, Keptie Newsagency, G.B. Business & Print and Yules Newsagents, Panmurefield. Anyone who has difficulty in obtaining a copy can contact the festival secretary on 01241 870501.