Festival of the Performing Arts returns next week

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Rejoice, ye patrons of the arts, as the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts returns beginning next week in Fort Frances and Emo, giving artists and supporters the chance to enjoy the fruits of their learning and talent.

Scheduled to run on various days throughout the month of April, the Festival once more allows students of different performing arts including drama, vocal instrumental and more, to show off their chops and practiced talents to esteemed and knowledgeable adjudicators in order to assess their growth and learn a bit more about their chosen artistic passion.

Festival co-chair Marie Brady said the board of directors and volunteers are excited to have the Festival back again this year, and are also celebrating the return of school and classroom choirs to the vocal division, a staple of the Festival that had been absent during the COVID years.

Festival competition kicks off on Tuesday, April 4, and Wednesday, April 5, 2023, with the first instalment of piano classes at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at Knox United Church in Fort Frances. Following piano, the instrumental classes will take place on Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. at the Emo Christian Reformed Church.

The next week of classes for the Festival make up the vocal portion of the event. the first of the vocal classes is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at St. Mary school. The remaining vocal classes will take place at 1:00 p.m. and 6L00 p.m. at Knox United Church on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Like in years past, the Festival will be bringing in adjudicators for its classes. Brady provided the Times the biographies of the adjudicators who will be coming in from Winnipeg to judge the vocal, piano and instrumental classes. The vocal adjudicator for this year’s festival is Tiffany Wilson, a music educator and instructor who has also served as an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Theatre from the University of Manitoba Faculty of Music, and acquired an A.M.M. in piano from the Western Board of Music. She has also studied and performed in New York and Europe with Mary Thomas, Gianni Raimondi and Jean Girodeau. Wilson has served as the president-elect of both the Manitoba Registered Music Teacher’s Association (MRMTA) and the national Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association (CFMTA).

Adjudicating both the instrumental and piano divisions at this year’s Festival is Madeline Hildebrand, a professional pianist currently completing her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance at Stony Brook University in New York. Hildebrand has received numerous accolades and awards in her career, including first prize in the Women’s Musical Club’s McLellan Competition, the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition prize, and has even shared a performing stage with acclaimed composer and pianist Philip Glass in 2018. Hildebrand sits on the board of Winnipeg’s Virtuosi Concert Series, where she founded the Young Artists Program, and has appeared at numerous festivals throughout Manitoba as an adjudicator and master-class clinician.

The theatre portions of the Festival are scheduled for Monday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 18, 2023, though specific locations for each day’s scheduled events are not currently listed on the Festival website outside of a 9:30 a.m. slot at the Townshend Theatre on Tuesday morning.

Participants in the 2019 English drama segment of the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts listen to critique from adjudicators. The festival is returning to its former glory, complete with school groups and in-person adjudication. Keep an eye on the schedule to catch the events that interest you. – Ken Kellar/ File photo

As is customary, the wrap-up Festival Highlights Concert will also take place after all classes have conclude.d This year’s Highlights concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. at the Townshend theatre.

Brady noted that as the years of the Festival have gone on, some of the sponsors who have in the past donated their money and name to many of the various awards available for Festival participants have either moved away or passed on, and as such, the Festival committee is always looking for those patrons of the arts in the district who might be interested in sponsoring a prize. This helps shoulder the costs involved with any award with a monetary prize attached, as well as the cost of having new plated engraved for the various trophies and plaques.

Anyone interested in sponsoring an award, or volunteering their time at one of the Festival’s classes, can contact the Festival volunteer and donation coordinator Maureen Hahkala at 274-1034.

For more information about the Rainy River District of the Performing Arts, as well as photos and updates, keep an eye on the Fort Frances Times throughout the month of April.