Enhancing lives through an appreciation of music

Festival Fanfare

There is an extensive history in Saskatchewan for annual music festivals. The Saskatchewan Music Festival Association currently represents 47 district community festivals throughout the province.

These festivals provide a platform for students to prepare performances and the opportunity to receive feedback from an adjudicator who specializes in a specific music disciple.

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The SMFA was established in 1908 thanks to Governor General Earl Grey who was not only a football fan but supported the arts. Grey sent letters to each province’s lieutenant-governor in hopes of starting a Canada-wide festival. Alberta and Saskatchewan responded more than 100 years later, here we are still celebrating. These festivals offer a valuable opportunity for youth studying music to share their skills and talent publicly.

There is a provincial syllabus with specified material for categories and age groups. The Battlefords festival adds extra classes locally if needed to accommodate performances that fall outside the specifics of that syllabus.

The stated vision of the SMFS is “enhancing lives through an appreciation of music.” Advanced level students have opportunities to compete on provincial and national level as nominated by adjudicators. There are senior level competition opportunities as the Shurniak Concerto Competition or the Wallis Opera Competition. These major competitions alternate years in co-operation with the Regina and Saskatoon symphony orchestras. A new competition opportunity was introduced in 2020. There is now a SMFA musical theatre competition, held in conjunction with the Wallis Opera Competition. 

With over more than entries, the 2021 Battlefords Music Festival’s program is taking shape. There are many COVID-19 safety restrictions to navigate but there are many positives to celebrate as well. Though there will not an in-person audience for performers, live streaming will allow family and friends to view performances. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy the professional stage and concert grand piano the Dekker Centre offers. Participants will follow strict protocols, wearing masks whenever they enter or exit the performance space.  Vocalists and those playing woodwind-type instruments will be allowed to remove masks while performing with the use of a plexiglass barrier for added safety.

With a maximum of 30 people allowed at one time in the venue, attendance during performances will be limited to participants, adjudicators, teachers, volunteers and venue staff. Ensemble performances will submit performances digitally for adjudicator review. After festival award winners are determined, gala performances will be pre-recorded on Tuesday, April 27. The program schedule is available online.

The festival will run from Monday, April 19 through Saturday, April 24. Voice, speech arts, and musical theatre can be viewed over two days, April 19 and 20 with vocal adjudicator, Chris Kelly. Instrumental performances will all take place on Wednesday, April 21 with instrumental adjudicator Mark Preece.  

Piano entries span three days, Thursday, April 22 though Saturday, April 24 with piano adjudicator Janet Tieck. Keeping in mind travel restrictions this year, all three adjudicators are from Saskatchewan.

Anyone interested in being a festival volunteer can talk to any Committee member or email l.sander@hotmail.com

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 ‑ Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert (1942 – 2020)


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