Tuesday, 29 September 2015

BBC Ten Pieces Champions

The British and International Federation of Festivals, to which we are affiliated, has announced that it has been accepted by the BBC as one of their BBC Ten Pieces Champions, operating at a national level from September 2015.

In 2014/15 over half of UK Primary Schools took part in the Ten Pieces initiative and in a previous blog post we recorded the excellent concert held in Ripon Cathedral. The scheme has been so successful that BBC Learning has decided to extend it to include UK Secondary schools in 2015/16. As a BBC Ten Pieces Champion the Federation will be able to encourage schools to perform their work at its festivals.

It remains to be seen how this will affect our festival but it is an interesting development in the performing arts field.


The 2016 Festival dates are now listed in The North Yorkshire Music & Arts Events Diary which can also be found via the St Cecilia Orchestra website. When the entry system closes (10 January 2016 for the on-line system and 1 January 2016 for paper entries) and the Program is finalised, more information will be added to these listings. They are an excellent way to find out what is happening  in our local area.


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Regional Championships

Following the earlier item about the Regional Championships, we are very happy to learn that HCFMSD winner cellist Maria Marshall has been successful there this afternoon, winning the Music section. Excellent news. Well done Maria.


2016 Festival Syllabus

The Syllabus for the 2016 Festival is now available on-line at http://hcfmsd.com/Syllabus.html. This will be the 80th consecutive staging of the festival - a real milestone!

The Syllabus contains the details of over 200 classes including a new Virtuoso Class for which the Elizabeth Hopkins Trophy will be awarded for the first time. This class will require performers to play two different pieces on different instruments from different disciplines, with the first piece being at Grade 8 or above standard and the second at Grade 6 or above.

Otherwise and as usual the Syllabus covers  the whole gamut of the performing arts, with opportunities for the very young and those not so young to have a go. We had over 3000 performances this year and we hope to emulate that in 2016.

Entries can be made both on paper and on-line from early October and the details can be found at the above link under "Entry forms". Don't forget that paper entries must be in by 2 January 2016 with those made on-line having until 15 January to be submitted.

The Festival is all about the performers so if you know someone who might be interested encourage them to enter.

On a different topic we have been informed that Jamie Locke will unfortunately be unable to perform at the Regional Championships now, due to unforeseen circumstances.


Monday, 24 August 2015

The European Youth School of Music

In a previous blog post we mentioned that our overall Young Musician of the Festival winner, saxophonist Jonny Vaux, would be participating in the European Youth Summer Music course in August and he has very kindly sent in a report of his experience there. You may be able to spot him in the group photo on the EYSM website!

The course is flexible, offering students a set of options alongside the more structured Course Orchestra. Despite being mainly a saxophonist Jonny played flute in the orchestra's performance of Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, a piece that is new to him because there is no saxophone part!

In addition to this Jonny played in a Big Band and was able to improvise on piano as part of a small, improvised jazz band.

The Course programme ended with five concerts in which all the groups formed during the week out of the options choices and the orchestral elements got to perform. 

We are delighted that HCFMSD was able to support Jonny at this event and we are pleased that it was such an enjoyable experience for him.

On a slightly different note, the 2016 Syllabus will be out shortly so watch this space, especially if you would like to be next year's EYSM participant!!


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Region Festivals Championship

Speech & Drama winner, Jamie Locke together with the Concerto Class winner, cellist Maria Marshall, will represent HCFMSD at the 2015 Regional Championships to be held by the Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Regions of the British and International Federation of Festivals on Saturday 12th September between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

The event will take place at Carlton Community High School, Green Lane, Carlton, Pontefract, WF8 3NW.

Tickets costing £5.00 each are available from Ms M Venables, 2 Meadow Drive, Darfield, Barnsley, S73 9HL. Please send an SAE and a cheque made payable to "Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Region".


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A surprise bequest

In our last post we mentioned that, in his AGM address, our Chairman had remembered Harry Harrop, a long-serving volunteer from Marton cum Grafton, who sadly died last December aged 83.

We were recently notified by his executors that Harry had made a very generous bequest to the Festival in his will, for which we are extremely grateful. No decisions have yet been made about how it might be used but the Trustees will be putting their heads together over the coming months to think about that, so watch this space.

This is further evidence that the festival inspires its volunteers as well as its many competitors!


Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 13th June.

The HCFMSD Chairman, Paul Dutton presented his report in which he thanked all those who have worked so hard to make the Festival a happy and continuing success. Foremost on this list must be our indefatigable Secretary, Linda Wilson, but Paul also thanked the small army of volunteer stewards and scribes, the “trophy managers”, as well as our sponsors, donors and advertisers, the rest of the Committee and of course all the performers and their parents and teachers, without which there would be no Festival!

Thanks were also given to Harrogate Ladies College for their continuing support, to Tom Ramsden the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire for securing a donation for the Festival from The Spooner Trust and to Harrogate Borough Council who again gave the festival a grant this year.

In his remarks about this year’s Festival, Paul mentioned the introduction of the Novice Ukulele Class, the separation of the Boys and Girls Singing Classes and the separation of the Barbershop and Choir classes as well as a number of other improvements.

Paul also gave us some news about some past performers. Although our overall Young Musician of the Festival winner, saxophonist Jonny Vaux is unable to participate in the Regional Championships he will be playing in the European Youth Summer Music course in August. Our Speech & Drama winner, Jamie Locke together with the Concerto Class winner, cellist Maria Marshall will represent Harrogate at the Regional Championships to be held in Pontefract in September.

Finally Paul paid tribute to Ken Hulme, a Committee member and to Harry Harrop, one of our longest serving volunteers, both of whom sadly died last year.

The Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary were all re-elected unopposed to serve another year. Planning for the 2016 Festival is underway and the Syllabus will soon be published. 

Watch this space!!


Monday, 25 May 2015

Ripon Cathedral Ten Pieces Concerts

Last Saturday, Ripon Cathedral welcomed hundreds of performers and audience members to two BBC Ten Pieces concerts, for which our very own Chairman, Paul Dutton acted as the host, giving a bravura performance, introducing the pieces and their performers. At one stage and despite our natural Yorkshire reticence he actually got the audience briefly singing a short, football club based riff!

The St Cecilia Orchestra and the two adult choirs (Vocalis and The St Paulinus Singers) were wonderful and filled the cathedral with sound, but the real stars of the show were the dozens of children making up the Children's' Choir and the four Children's Orchestras representing the Thirsk, Boroughbridge, Ripon and Easingwold areas. They sang and played with absolute determination and would have made their conductor, Jess Hayne, proud. The performance of the rousing final piece, the Finale of Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, saw the unusual sight of two conductors, Jess Hayne pointing down the cathedral nave conducting the children and the other, Xenophon Kelsey MBE, pointing up the nave conducting the adult players. Perfect coordination was achieved.

Towards the middle of the programme French Hornist Ian Wildsmith gave an excellent rendition of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4, showing the children what they might wish to aim for in the future. Hopefully many of them will choose to perform at HCFMSD in years to come.

There was a large and appreciative family audience with lots of young children. For the most part they appeared to enjoy the excellent music. An abiding memory was the performance of the first piece in the programme, Handel's Zadok The Priest in the afternoon concert. As this rousing choral work commenced, a little girl solemnly walked all on her own right down to the front of the audience where she stopped to observe the orchestras and choirs for a couple of minutes, before walking all the way back to her family. She is probably even now deciding whether to be a conductor or a chorister or a violinist when she grows up. It was that inspiring sort of concert!


PS: Don't forget the HCFMSD 2015 Annual General Meeting to be held at 10:30am on Saturday 13th June, at the Friends' Meeting House, 12A Queen Parade, Harrogate

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

BBC 10 Pieces Concert

Ripon Cathedral will be the place to be on 23rd May when it hosts the BBC 10 Pieces Concert. This will feature the St Cecilia Orchestra and choir as well as several other choirs and hundreds of children. The concert is especially for children and families and the programme is designed to be rousing! Older members of the audience who were lucky enough to see Disney’s film Fantasia may recognise Modest Mussorgsky’s Night On A Bare Mountain!

There will be two performances, at 16:30 and at 18:30. Full details can be found in the very comprehensive North Yorkshire Music & Arts Events Diary.


Thursday, 30 April 2015

Another Yorkshire Festival

You don’t have to wait until 2016 for another excellent Yorkshire cultural experience. We are only a week and a half away from the start of the 109th annual Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts. This has been running even longer than HCFMSD!

This competitive music and drama festival will take place at various Ilkley venues during the week commencing 11 May, culminating with performances at both Kings Hall and Christchurch on Saturday 16 May.

Further information can be found at the Festival’s website.  


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

News about the 2014 Young Musician of the Festival

Tom Knowles, last year's Young Musician of the Festival, will be performing in the Emanuel Piano Trophy Competition in London on May 2nd.

This is the top competition at the North London Festival of Music, Drama and Dance and Tom gained the right to compete there by winning in Harrogate in 2014. We wish him lots of luck!!

The competition will be held at the United Reform Church in Muswell Hill and further information can be found on the Festival’s website 


Friday, 24 April 2015

After all the excitement

The 2015 Festival is over.  

The Final Concert was held in the School Assembly Hall on March 22nd and featured the Young Musician of the Festival Competition.  

The winner was Johnny Vaux.

We were also entertained by performances from Olde Time Music Hall, Musicians, Singers and Speech and Drama.

So, what now?......

The Syllabus for 2016 will be out in the summer.

Meanwhile, the organisers - all volunteers, are taking a breather, and trying to work out what can be improved next year.  If you have suggestions and want to help us, please contact our Festival Secretary.  Contact details are on the website.  Thank you.