Longest running festival celebrates 40 years

Carole Rubin/Contributing Writer / Staff writer
November 9, 2012 01:00 AM

Julie Shibasaka accepts the Patricia Stuart Baroque Piano Award presented by the late Betty Paterson, Vice-President of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Performing Arts at the 2008 Piano Encore Concert in the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre.

The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Performing Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2013, making it the longest running festival on the Coast.

Modelled on Vancouver's Kiwanis Festival, the Sunshine Coast Music and Drama Festival was founded in 1973 to provide opportunities for Coast music students and amateur musicians to perform in the community and receive guidance from experienced professionals who come from all across Canada. Past adjudicators and clinicians have included Grace Chan, Daniel Bolshoy, Calvin Dyck and Roger Buksa.

Aletta Gilker and Mary Brooke were founding members, along with Barbara Cattanach, Marla Chatham, George Cooper, Elizabeth Kennett, Betty and George McKee, Hilda and Stuart Mitton, Jean Reid and Margaret Webb. Participants in early festivals included community and school choirs, bands and drama groups along with individual piano, violin, guitar, vocal and drama performances.

The festival is seriously courting new volunteers for its board (one meeting a month, working with other members on logistics, administration, selection of judges, etc.) and for those who have less time, to help during the festival itself, on the doors, assisting musicians and adjudicators.

"A board member may only serve four years," said member Sue Milne. "We need new blood, and we need more helpers during the festival, for anyone who has just a few days in their busy schedules to help out."

The festival has grown dramatically from its initial two days of sessions with 30 entrants, and since 2007, includes dance as well as music. A non-profit society with charitable status, the generous support of community donors makes it possible for the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Performing Arts to provide awards and scholarships annually to outstanding individuals and groups to encourage their ongoing development as performers. Each year exceptional performers are selected to gain additional experience by participation in the Provincial Festival, Performing Arts BC, held May in Chilliwack.

Festival 2013 is April 2 to 19, with admission to all events by donation.

The performances take place weekdays Tuesday, April 2 to Friday, April 19 in various Coast venues. Audiences are encouraged to attend all Festival 2013 sessions and the Sunday afternoon gala concerts: piano encore, April 7, at the Arts Centre and Festival Highlights, April 28, at Raven's Cry Theatre.

Friday, Feb. 1 is the entry deadline for Festival 2013; forms are usually submitted by teachers or studios for their students, or by directors for community choirs and musical ensembles. A great partnership with School District No. 46 encourages festival participation by schools.

The Syllabus for 2013, with entry forms, is available at festival outlets and libraries. Detailed Festival 2013 information is available on the SCFPA website at www.coastfestival.com.

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