Music fest rebounds post-pandemic

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The 78th Kiwanis Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival is one for the books, and plans for the April 29 Grand Concert are underway. The event saw some 300 youth perform in a variety of categories including strings, vocals, musical theatre, speech arts, piano and instrumental band. Here, violinists Zoe Thompson and Henry and Hayden Hill showcase their talents on the festival’s final day at Holy Trinity/St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

The 78th edition of the Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival has ended on a high note.

The popular competition, that sees youth up to the age of 19 put on their best musical and vocal performances, has rebounded from the pandemic with more than 300 performers registered in this year’s event.

According to festival co-chair Julie Collins, an instrumental choir category was added back in for 2024.

Other categories included musical mainstays such as piano, strings, a number of vocal categories and musical theatre.

“We have stabilized our numbers,” Collins said on the final day of the competition, adding a significant number of performers from the Windsor area travelled to compete in Chatham.

The accomplishment is significant. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event’s cancellation. The festival was held virtually in 2021 and 2022 before returning to live performances last year.

Adjudicators for this year’s festival included Linda Fletcher (vocal); Jennifer Smele (junior piano); Lance Ouellette (strings); Marion Abbott (musical theatre and speech arts) as well as Chatham native Benjamin Smith, also an adjudicator, in the junior piano category.

Now that the festival has concluded, organizers are gearing up for the Grand Concert April 29 at the Kiwanis Theatre. The evening will also see awards, trophies, plaques and scholarships handed out to deserving performers.

“It’s a really nice night,” Collins said. “We try to pick from all of the categories so they are all well represented.”

The Grand Concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Students and children are free.

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