Wendy Herbison played her first local festival of the performing arts in 1952, receiving written and verbal adjudication on her performance. It propelled her into a lifelong love affair with music.
“In any of the performing arts you need a goal to help you practice. The Kootenay Festival of the Arts creates a wonderful goal, and inspires people to reach for the highest level they’re capable of,” said Herbison, who is president of the Nelson Music Festival Association.
The five-day, four-venue festival will feature participants as young as five as well as long-term professionals.
“We encourage adult students, because this festival is intended for people studying and trying to learn. It’s slightly competitive, and there are some awards, but for the most part the adjudications are of a workshop, master class nature. They’re very positive and encouraging.”
Classes will be organized by age and genre of music.
“When I was a kid in Nelson there was very little going on in the way of violin music,” Herbison said. “These festivals were a great inspiration to me, and I’m sure I never would’ve gone on to a professional career if I hadn’t had these goals and that input.”
Herbison studied at UBC, joined the Vancouver Symphony and went from there to the CBC Radio Orchestra and Vancouver Opera Orchestra. She also taught in Langley.
These days she’s the concert master of the Symphony of the Kootenays.
Herbison said they’re expecting approximately 90 participants in string and guitar, and another 120 in piano. The musicians will hail from places such as Trail, Penticton, Creston and Argenta.
The festival rotates back and forth between Trail and Nelson each year.
There will be opportunities for the public to enjoy the artists’ work. The dance highlights of the festival will be performed on April 2 at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre while all the other disciplines will take the stage on April 16 at 7 p.m. That night will feature speech arts, singing, piano, strings and guitar.
“We’re also doing a fundraising campaign to do bursaries for kids, so anyone who wants to donate should visit kootenayfestivalofthearts.ca,” she said.
The dance portion of the festival will take place during the week of March 28 to April 2 and all other disciplines will be from April 11 to 16. The other venues are the Nelson United Church, Bethel Christian Centre, and St. Saviour’s Anglican Church.