As this year’s 69th Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival drew to a close, students and their music teachers likely breathed a small sigh of relief.
The annual competition recognized the hard work and talent from locals who participated, at the Grand Concert held at the Kiwanis Theatre recently.
There were approximately 900 competitors, down slightly from last year, with the most popular disciplines represented being piano, vocal and musical theatre.
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This year, more than 70 awards and trophies, as well as prestigious provincial recommendations, were handed out to deserving students of various musical disciplines including strings, band, choirs and more.
A change in this year’s event was having past festival alumni, Megan Nuttall and Rachel Schwarz, as the concert’s masters of ceremonies, as well as written biographies of three more alumni included in the concert program, giving students a glimpse into the lives of those who have continued their musical skills.
“Our intent is to each year bring back two or three former folks who have continued in the music field in one fashion or another and ask where they are now,” said chair of musical festival committee Chuck Scott.
Scott says students receive more than just awards by competing year after year – they learn some valuable skills they carry on in their lives.
“It’s an opportunity for a young person and a reason to focus, practice and be involved,” said Scott.
“Over the years, you see some tremendous growth in confidence and in ability as well,” he added.
Through weekly lessons and commitment, Scott said competing in the festival requires a level of dedication from parents who pay and drive their children to lesson, teachers who go above and beyond to teach and prepare their students for competition, and the participants themselves who put in hours of practice.
“When you stop and think about it, for music, it’s daily for most students,” said Ian Rutherford, who handles the festival’s public relations.
It is such discipline that Scott says translates into other academic fields besides music.
“I think it really gets them to coordinate their lives to be successful,” said Scott.