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Nelson Musical Festival Association

The Festival was a HUGE Success!

The festival committee fretted, worried and lost sleep as they planned for this year’s Kootenay Festival of the Arts. It had been two years since the last full-fledged festival was shut down by the pandemic. Hope triumphed over anxieties and the festival once again welcomed participants and adjudicators in venues across town, culminating in the Highlights Concert the day after provincial health orders ended.

What a lovely celebration of arts, talented young performers and their dedicated educators and parents that was! From dance to song, classical guitar to jazz, a string quartet to the musical theatre solos, the audience was awed by the resilient youth who continued with their dance and musical studies despite the two dark years of the pandemic.

Here are the highlights from each of the disciplines as reported by their respective co-ordinators:

        Carole Bonin (Dance):
There was a total of 233 performances involving dancers from Nelson, Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, and Penticton adjudicated by Stephana Arnold (Ballet and Modern) from Vancouver and Lori Birk (Stage) from Kamloops.

The dance portion of the festival culminated in its own Highlights Concert at the Capitol Theatre and the following dancers were selected to compete at the provincial finals of Performing Arts BC, held the first week of June: Intermediate Ballet, Keira Demmler, Intermediate Modern, Lauren Martin, Senior Modern, Maya Halverson, Junior Stage, Avery Wish, Intermediate Stage, Silvie Palinka and Senior Stage, Kendall Pennington.

        Vic Neufield (Strings and Guitar):
The Strings and Guitar section saw 50 performances by 28 participants in two full days of music, and the instruments included a viola, violins, cellos and guitars. The strings and guitar adjudicator, Carla Birston, head of Strings at the Vancouver Symphony Music School, offered encouraging and instructive adjudications, often demonstrating techniques or playing along with the students.

Awards went to the following participants: Rosie Matern, Katie Clarke, James Clarke, Carmen Lewandowski, Alison Hengen, Nieva Cunningham, and the Galaxy Trio (Gavin Fudge, Liiam Fudge, Griffin Godin-denBok).

        Leah Gray (Voice and Speech Arts):
It was so wonderful to be able to do an in-person Kootenay Music Festival for 2022, though the Speech Arts portion presented a little differently this year. St. Joseph’s School always enters each of their classes into the choral speaking section. This year, instead of moving all the students to our main venue, we decided to take our adjudicator to them. They did their performances at the Catholic Cathedral and it was lovely to have that setting for them.

At the Highlights concert, our three provincial nominees, Isabel McAleer, Cetonaya Sammartino and Nico Bucher shared their musical talent with an appreciative audience. Monetary awards were given to: St. Joseph’s Grade 2 and 4 classes for choral speech, Andrew Lee and Zachary Hirt of Prince George for Speech Arts, and Sammartino and McAleer for Musical Drama.

        Wendy Herbison and Tatiana Krol (Winds and Brass):
A small but enjoyable Winds and Brass section took place in two separate locations on April 7. Winds participants included two recorder choirs from Nelson Waldorf School, a jazz ensemble and a single flutist, Lia Lim, an exchange student from South Korea. Performances were adjudicated by Ruth Langevin, a prominent local musician and experienced educator. LVJ5, a jazz ensemble consisting of LVR students Jade Eaton-Heagel, Nico Bucher, Tamias Elder, Jake Maslak and Aaron Pasacreta were featured in the Highlights Concert at the Capitol Theatre and received a monetary award. Special thanks go to Carmen Lewandowski who played bass guitar with LVJ5 at the Highlights Concert.

        Ellie Hedges (piano):
Over two full days the Nelson United Church was filled with solos, duets and joy. Piano adjudicator Alan Crane from the Vancouver Symphony Music School shared his wisdom and guidance with over 65 students. 

Daniel Fang is among the provincial nominees following the Kootenay Festival of the Arts. Photo: Submitted

One of the talented performers, Daniel Fang, 15, a Grade 10 J.L. Crowe student, was awarded Ian Douglas Smith bursary this year.           

The provincial nominees from piano are: Daniel Fang (senior competitor), Romeo Gelber, (intermediate competitor), and Charles Clarke, (junior competitor). Alexander Borch and Tommaso Gelber were both recognized as merited participants.

The festival committee would like to thank our generous sponsors, venue coordinators, adjudicators, teachers, and of course, participants and their parents for supporting this wonderful Kootenay tradition. Next year’s festival is scheduled to take place in Trail, and we hope to see you all in Nelson again in 2024. 

We appreciate the generous support of our donors and sponsors, without whom our festival could not exist.
Help us to support young talented people in the West Kootenays
Donations can be made at any time by cheque to
Nelson Musical Festival Association,
Box 2, Nelson BC, V1L 5P7
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Kootenay Festival of the Arts is proud to be affiliated with

KFA Choir

Kootenay Musical Festival Choir c.1932
recognize anyone? (click for close-up)