“A music festival is a good thing in itself. It is chiefly beneficial to the young who through the competitions have an opportunity of learning much about music that they could learn in no other way. The fact that the festival is to be held annually will encourage interest in music generally as the competitors have to spend months in practicing for the contests.”
So thought the organizers of the first ever Kootenay Music Festival all the way back in 1930. Today Kootenay Festival of the Arts is one of the oldest festival traditions in British Columbia. For over 80 years, with only a three-year wartime break, Nelson and Trail have been taking turns hosting the annual festival. Its goals remain to inspire, educate, evaluate and promote regional students in the performing art disciplines of piano, strings, woodwinds and brass, voice, choral, dance, drama and speech arts.
Two exciting weeks of the Kootenay Festival of the Arts 2019 culminated in the Highlights Concert at Charles Bailey’s Theatre in Trail on April 27. There were music, dance and song, awards and provincial nominations. The Ian Douglas Smith award went to Lucas Alexander of Nelson and many other students were recognized with monetary awards and certificates of merit.
Each year, Kootenay Festival and other regional festivals all over B.C. send their most promising young artists to the provincial festival where they compete and participate in adjudicated sessions, master classes, coaching, workshops and technique classes with some of North America’s finest adjudicators. This year, the record number of 16 Kootenay youth qualified to compete at the provincial Festival of the Arts in Chilliwack, May 26 to 30, while 21 more will attend as merited participants.
Of the 16 competitors, Alexander (clarinet) and Nico Bucher (trumpet) will represent Nelson at the provincials for the second time. Last year at provincials in Victoria, Alexander was a runner up in the Intermediate Woodwinds and Bucher won first place in the Junior Brass category.
While provincial hopefuls are ramping up their practice polishing their provincial entries, Trail festival committee volunteers relax in the afterglow and the Nelson committee is already starting to plan for April 2020. It might seem like a long time away, but note the registration deadline of Feb. 1 and the festival’s website: kootenayfestivalofthearts.ca.