Four hundred and two young, talented musicians from across the region will convene at the 2022 St. Albert Rotary Music Festival running April 4 to 14 in select venues across the city. At stake is positive feedback from trained adjudicators and $10,000 in scholarship awards.
Musicians are eligible to participate in piano, strings, brass, wood winds, ukulele, guitar, vocal, band, and composition. The festival has always showcased strong choral representations. However, this year there is a limited number of entries since many choirs were unable to rehearse together, said festival co-ordinator Laurie Christiansen.
In 2021, the Rotary Club operated the festival while most others in the province shut down due to the high number of pandemic cases. Applicants were recorded while performing and performances were posted online. Parents responded with gratitude that their children had something to work towards.
“This festival gives them a performance opportunity,” said Mark Moran, festival director. “It helps solidify what you practice.”
Soprano Victoria Burman, 18, a Spruce Grove resident, is the 2021 winner of the prestigious Jackie Heitzman Rose Bowl. Currently, she is enrolled at the University of Alberta in a general biology program. Although music has been a large part of her life, she credits science as her true passion.
“Biology offers more stability. It’s easier to find a job in that field,” said Burman who is tossing around career choices in medicine, canola plant breeding, and research in virology, especially Ebola and rabies.
Although her focus is the future, Burman continues to tout the benefits of competing in the music festival.
“There are two things to look at. From a technical standpoint, it’s valuable to perform in front of people who give you pointers. And then there’s the other perspective of doing things you’ve never done before. Some people suffer stage fright before performing, but if you do it enough times you won’t feel nervous. Everyone is kind and respectful. They get you’re on edge. Nobody is looking to be mean.”
Pianist Evan Yin, 16, a Grade 11 student at Old Scona Academic, was the recipient of the Lyle Moore Scholarship. It was Yin’s first time competing in the music festival, and his performance of three classical sonatas caught adjudicators' attention.
“It was a great experience. I felt the recording equipment and acoustics of the room were great. Organizers at the festival took care in helping deliver the best performance possible. It’s all about giving the audience the best performance possible. I feel the Rotary Music Festival did a great job in that,” said Yin.
Yin, who is practicing for the Canadian Music Competition auditions in April, will not enter Rotary’s music festival. However, he encouraged one of his students, Ada Wu, to enter her composition about peace.
“I started teaching last year. Overall, I noticed a slight decline in young people involved in classical and musical performance. I felt the need to educate, and I started to do little things at school to help classmates, and I perform in community concerts. I want to help people get involved in music as much as I was.”
Adjudicators include soprano Elizabeth Raycroft, tenor John Tessier, trombonist Allen Jacobson, violinist Ciara Hager, guitarist/ukulele player Oscar-Jose Garcia, fiddle player Melanie Smith-Doderai, composer Dr. Allan Gilliland, as well as pianists Kathy Dornian and Dr. Jamie Syer.
Musicians will perform at six venues: Arden Theatre, United Church Friendship Hall, Red Willow Community Church, St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran, Salvation Army Community Centre, and St. Albert United Church.
This year the Rotary Music Festival is offering $10,000 in awards, scholarships, and bursaries. The major individual awards are the $1,000 Jackie Heitzman Rose Bowl, the $1,000 Lyle Moore Scholarship, the $500 Marsha Stanton Award, and the $400 Elsie and Bill Filipchuk Musical Theatre Bursary.
While the festival’s goals are to inspire and encourage a passion for music, it needs 75 volunteers to carry out the mission. To sign up visit https://www.st-albertmusicfestival.ca.