Festival Report 2009
One of the longest established Festivals in this country, the 96th Taunton & Somerset Music & Drama Festival, began in style on Monday, 16th November.
Pianists with ages ranging from under 8 years to 18 performed throughout the day a huge variety of pieces, some dazzling with dance and jazz rhythms, some tender and thoughtful.
Ruth Harte was an outstanding adjudicator:she developed a good rapport with the performers and adapted her comments perfectly according to the standards of playing, whether to beginners or to the more sophisticated older pianists.It was a privilege to hear her inspiring adjudications, laced with humour and wisdom.Only 3 Outstanding grades were awarded: to Chris Ma and Stephanie Cheung in the 18 years and under solo classes and to 13 year old Christopher Hedges, who won the Blackdown Cup, the Portman Cup, and the Chapman Cup for the most promising pianist.
Caroline Diffley was the excellent adjudicator for the Wind Classes: a delightful communicator, constructive and encouraging to all ages.Parkfield School had won 6 cups by 11am for their orchestral and recorder playing;the quality of thewoodwind and brass classes has been steadily rising andTrinity School’s exuberantSamba Bandandthe accomplished Young Drummers of theBlackdown Hill Steel Band were a terrific new addition to the Festival.
String players impressed adjudicator Oliver Gledhill with their high standard, and many distinctions were earned at all levels.A ‘Family Music’ class featuring 3 generations of one family was great fun, duets, Chamber Music and Instrumental Chamber Ensembles all achieved Commended grades and the Castle School Swinging Strings won the only Outstanding Grade of the day.
There were so many entrants in the Junior Vocal classes that three venues and three adjudicators had to be found to accommodate all the eager young performers. Three singers, adjudicated by Gaynor Keeble and Melanie Armitstead, who achieved more than one Outstanding Grade were Sophie Gallagher (3), Oliver Kelham (2) and Verity Wingate(2).
Adjudicator, Mark Cartwright, presided over hundreds of singers in choirs from Bridgwater College, Castle School and Wellington Junior School, all of whom won trophies, and the session ended very cheerfully and loudly with a lively rendition of a well known round set to amusing words, sung by all choirs together.
Mark Cartwright and Gaynor Keeble also adjudicated the Senior Vocal Classes on the final day of the Festival; they were generous with their comments and ever- constructive.In the Vocal Workshop class, Gaynor Keeble worked with her wonderful energy on four singers who wanted to improve their technique and performing skills.
Music is well and truly alive in Taunton and Somerset!