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Local musicians make Kootenay Festival of the Arts a resounding success

The latest event was held in March and April in Nelson
Trafalgar Middle School’s band performs during the Kootenay Festival of the Arts. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Kootenay Festival of the Arts

The Kootenay Festival of the Arts, a Nelson tradition since 1930s, was held in March and April and saw hundreds of participants, dozens of sessions and two amazing highlights concerts at the Capitol Theatre.

In dance, there were over 125 entries in the disciplines of ballet, modern and stage, with eight 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 special interest in dancers and young athletes.

Isla Bitting, Amberlyn Romano, Bryn Basham, Anna Begin, Silvie Palinka will represent the Kootenays in the provincials, which run June 2-6 in Fort St. John.

With over 50 combined group and solo entries in voice and speech arts, we had a tightly packed two days, led by the amazing adjudication of Laura Lansberg. The Nelson United Church featured speech arts, classical and musical theatre soloists followed by afternoon performances of 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, while Julie Higgins will attend as alternate for provincials in classical voice.

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. It was a wonderful range of ages and experience, and all participants were given personal 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.

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. Notably, one of the talented performers Charles Clarke shared in the Ian Douglas Smith award.

The provincial nominees for piano are Clarke and Tommy Gelber.

Winds and brass saw more than 100 participants with two concert bands from Trafalgar Middle School, a jazz band from L.V. 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.

Grades 8-9 Trafalgar Middle School Concert Band directed by Justin Ratzburg was recognized with a monetary award.

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 practising!

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