Music festival draws fewer vocal entries

Phil Ambroziak

The number of vocal entries in this year’s Meadow Lake and District Music Festival has been somewhat muted when compared to years past.

“We’ve always had a strong number of piano entries because we have a number of piano teachers in Meadow Lake and area, but this year there are fewer vocal entries – we’re probably down by about 100 compared to last year,” explained festival secretary Maxine Leschuk.

A comparison between last year’s festival program and the current booklet clearly indicates the drop in numbers, as the scheduled sessions throughout the five-day event went from 18 in 2014 to 13 this year. The number of venues has also decreased from three to two with sessions taking place only at Carpenter High School and the Evangelical Free Church.

“We just don’t have as many teachers involved with vocal arts as we used to,” Leschuk continued. “That’s why we’ve seen such a drastic change.”

She went on to say, in the past, teachers with a strong vocal music background would lead extracurricular music clubs and other such groups at the various schools designed specifically to encourage more young people to participate in the festival. Some of these teachers – including Susan Paley and Sandra Senga –  have since retired and, although they were still able to help out somewhat last year, there have been fewer people to carry the torch going into this year’s event. In spite of this, Leschuk remains optimistic for the future

“I believe things can turn around,” she said. “Maybe, if new people come to town with the interest and with the right background, those numbers can get back up there. There’s always people coming and going in Meadow Lake, so you never know.”

Also notably absent from this year’s festival are speech arts entries. In 2014, there were 14 entries whereas this year there are none. Leschuk said this is disappointing considering the festival committee commissioned Heather Macnab, a traveling speech arts clinician, for an entire week earlier this year during which time she visited several area schools in an effort to expose students to speech arts and its many benefits.

“It was still good for the festival to have her come do her workshops because they were well attended, but where it goes from here remains to be seen,” she said.
The 37th annual Meadow Lake and District Music Festival kicked off yesterday (April 20) and goes until April 24. An awards night is scheduled for CHS April 27.

Volunteers recognized

Last fall, two festival volunteers were recognized with awards for long-standing service.

“Brenda Nightingale has been involved with the festival for 25 years,” Leschuk noted. “Being an accomplished pianist and cellist, she has been involved with volunteering her talents as an accompanist with the community choir, our local school choirs and also with vocal soloists.”

Meanwhile, Terri Prete began on the festival’s scholarship and awards committee in 2007 and, since 2009, has done the job on her own.

“We value the time and contributions of every volunteer we get,” Leschuk said. “They’re very dedicated and continue to help out each and every year.”

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