2024 Festival Summary

Kootenay Festival of the Arts 2024
               — for the 80th plus time!
                           A Resounding Success

This regional arts event, a Nelson tradition since 1930’s, was held in March and April and saw hundreds of participants, dozens of sessions and two amazing highlights concerts at the Capitol Theatre.

Following are reports on each discipline from their respective coordinators.

DANCE: Carole Bonin
There were over 125 entries in the disciplines of Ballet, Modern, and Stage, with 8 workshops led by adjudicators Sarah Brewer Clowes and Colleen Zander. A special workshop on The Dancer’s Body was led by Zander, a physiotherapist with a special interest in dancers and young athletes. Isla Bitting, Amberlyn Romano, Bryn Basham, Anna Begin, and Silvie Palinka will represent the Kootenays in the Provincials.

VOICE AND SPEECH ARTS: Rachel DeShon and Kozmo Sammartino
With over 50 combined group and solo entries, we had a tightly packed two days, led by the amazing adjudication of Laura Lansberg. Monday, at the Nelson United Church, featured speech arts, classical, and musical theatre soloists. In the afternoon, we had the pleasure of hosting three Castlegar-based choirs: two Castlegar Community Children’s Choirs, the Shooting Stars and Northern Lights, directed by Alicia Liszt-Affolter and Christina Allen, respectively, and The Twin Rivers Community Choir, also directed by Allen. During Tuesday morning at Studio 88, we hosted groups from St. Joseph Elementary School and Rosemont Elementary School. In the afternoon, Studio 88 voice students performed contemporary pop numbers. Musical Theatre performers Miriam Kalawsky, Cetonaya Sammartino, and pop singer Clementine Premont received monetary awards, and were joined by Katrina Robert’s Glee Club students for Saturday’s Highlights Concert. Kalawsky, Sammartino and Prince George based speech artist, Andrew Lee, were named provincial competitors, Julie Higgins will attend as alternate for provincials in classical voice.

STRINGS: Margot Zimmer
Two exciting days of strings included performances and adjudications of violinists, guitarists, and many cellists as solo performers, as well as in duets and ensembles. We applaud their hard work, commitment and courage in playing at the Festival. It was a wonderful range of ages and experience, and all participants were given personal, encouraging, meaningful and insightful adjudications by Beth Root Sandvoss, an internationally acclaimed cellist, member of faculty at the Mount Royal University in Calgary, and a founding member of the Juno-nominated Lands’ End Ensemble.
Gideon Harvest, Jake Smith, Carmen Lewandowski, and Neiva Cunningham were recognized with monetary awards. Katie Clarke was nominated to attend the Provincial Festival of the Arts as a competitor in Intermediate Strings and is one of this year’s recipients of the Ian Douglas Smith award. Harvest, Smith, Lewandowski and Cunningham were nominated as merited participants.

PIANO: Janae Gauthier
This year’s piano performances flew by with a wide range of genres, skills and ages. At around 100 piano performances, we enjoyed over two full days of music at the United Church. We were extremely lucky to have Dr Jamie Syer as our Piano Adjudicator. His supportive and impactful feedback brought out the best of all our wonderful pianists. From the very youngest first-timers to our adult workshop class and even our lively duets & trios night, so much creativity, preparation and bravery was exhibited by each and every performer! Notably, one of the talented performers, Charles Clarke, shared in the Ian Douglas Smith Award. The provincial nominees for piano are Charles Clarke and Tommy Gelber.

WINDS: Tatiana Krol
Winds and Brass saw more than 100 participants, with two Concert Bands from Trafalgar Middle School, a Jazz Band from LV Rogers and a flute/guitar duet. The adjudicator, Keith Todd, a prominent local musician and educator, who is currently the principal trombone with the Symphony of the Kootenays, offered encouraging and constructive feedback to all participants. First Baptist Church was standing room only, full of a supportive audience of families and friends. It was a very engaging session, with Todd masterfully directing the students to add dynamic touches to their already skillful performance. If you haven’t had a chance to hear local school bands lately, we highly recommend you seek an opportunity to do so. Grades 8/9 Trafalgar Middle School Concert Band, directed by Justin Ratzburg, was recognized with a monetary award, and the flute/guitar duet of McKay and Suazo went on to perform a beautiful version of Libertango in the Highlights concert.

PRESIDENT: Ellie Hedges
        The Kootenay Festival of the Arts united our community and surrounding areas in a celebration of creativity. Students from Dance, Strings, Winds/Brass, Piano, and Speech Arts shared their passion over two inspiring weeks. Each session left us feeling connected and inspired by the brave, hardworking artists who graced the stage. Our arts community, rich with dedicated musicians and dancers, thrives thanks to teachers, mentors, adjudicators, parents, donors, and volunteers. The recent Highlights Concert at the Capitol Theatre was a delightful finale.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to all our participants, donors, adjudicators, teachers, volunteers, and, of course, the audience for making this bi-annual event a success. Next year’s festival will take place in Trail, and we hope to see you all again in Nelson in 2026!

Keep practicing!