The Stettler and District Music Festival Association held their forty-ninth annual music festival from April 19 to 27 this year at the Performing Arts Centre (PAC) and Stettler Alliance Church, culminating with a grand concert at the PAC on April 30.
The festival originally began as a three-day event, and now spans 10 days with over 700 entries and $10,000 in scholarships awarded every year.
Musicians from communities across central Alberta, from Coronation to Bashaw to Big Valley, came to Stettler to perform and receive adjudication from the festival’s six adjudicators.
The adjudicators for this year’s festival included Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus vocal coach Mireille Rijavec in the vocal category; ARCT-certified voice teacher and Stettler native Angela Siemens in the school chorus category; Edmonton Symphony clarinettist Don Ross in the band category; and MacEwan University Conservatory of Music teacher Kimberly Davis in the musical theatre category.
This year, 231 band students in grades 5 to 12 from Stettler Elementary School and Wm. E. Hay took part in the festival.
“The students performed as concert band members and also as jazz band members, solos, duets and trios,” said Wm. E. Hay band teacher Eric Rahn.
The Wm. E. Hay high school band was honoured this year with the Adjudicator’s Choice award.
“Having the high school band receive the Adjudicators Choice was a great highlight and they were honoured to open the Grand Concert,” Rahn said.
Aside from this award, Rahn noted that there were many other outstanding performances.
“I was very pleased with how many of the groups really stepped up for performances and gave a real professional display,” he said. “The Grade 8 band was a very special performance in that they really locked into the music as a group and it just clicked. I was also very pleased with the Jazz Cats Junior and Senior group as they brought a ton of energy and fun to their performances.”
Being able to participate in music festivals gives musicians opportunities that they don’t get from regular performances, Rahn commented.
“Playing for concerts is very rewarding, but there is an extra layer of adrenaline when you know that the person listening to you has a copy of the music and knows what they should hear,” he said.
“I feel that participating in festivals gives young players a chance to really focus on their own skills, plus it gives them the ability to come together as groups and work together to achieve something wonderful.”
Outside of the performance of the musicians, Rahn also recognized the many volunteers who made the event a success.
“It was a very smooth festival up to and including the Grand Concert,” he said. “The committee that organizes and runs the festival cannot be thanked enough for all their hard work.”