THE CREME de la crème of Swindon’s music scene pushed back the boundaries this year with more avant-garde compositions, technically-challenging and bold performances – but just two outstanding female artists made the cut.
Classically trained singer Polly Leech was the ultimate victor on Saturday night after being crowned both senior vocal champion and winning the coveted first place at the Supreme Championship.
Violinist Anahita Falaki was voted best musician at the Instrumental Champion-ship on Wednesday for the second time, having previously been awarded the title back in 2012.
It was also Polly’s second win at the Music Festival.
Despite her previous victory at the annual festival, Anahita, 15, of Peatmoor, was stunned to be voted best overall once more for her rendition of Danse Espagnole by De Falla.
“It was quite unexpected,” said the Wootton Bassett Academy student.
“There were quite a lot of good musicians so I didn’t think I would win.
“I have been playing the violin for around 11 years and music is my passion. I have been doing the festival since 2008 and I won the Instrumental Champion-ship in 2012.
“When I am on stage I just play, I block everything out. I don’t feel the pressure anymore, I am used to it.
“Winning just makes me want to practise more.”
Polly’s bold choice, a lesser known opera by William Walton, immediately caught the attention of adjudicator Yvonne Patrick.
“She sang ‘I was a constant, faithful wife’ from The Bear by Walton,” said vice chairman Sheila Marcer.
“It was quite an unusual choice and the adjudicator remarked on the fact that it was different.
“She was quite exceptional and had such a beautiful voice. She won both the Supreme Champion-ship and the Senior Vocal Championship and I can’t recall it happening before, not in recent years.”
The festival itself was a huge success for organisers who were highly impressed by the calibre of candidates.
“The youngest musician at the Supreme Champion-ship was around 10 years old and you would be surprised at the confidence the younger ones have on stage,” said Sheila.
“I think the festival is very good for children; they are always so happy to be performing. You can just see it in their eyes; they are so focused.
“That’s what a lot of them will go on to do with their lives and a lot of our winners go on to sing or play music.
“We have got a lot of youngsters in Swindon who are very talented musicians and very devoted teachers.
“It has been an excellent festival and our chairman Geoff Walters found that the standard of performance was extremely high this year.
“The festival is an institution and it’s one of the oldest festivals in the country still going.”
Mature Class (over 50): Margaret Bett, Contralto Solo: Moira Veitch,
Soprano & Mezzo Soprano Solo: Judith Le Breuilly, Male Solo: William Forty,
Any voice – Amateur or Professional: Margaret Bett, Oratorio: Polly Leech,
Ladies Voice age 17-21: Judith Le Breuilly, Recital: Polly Leech, German Lieder/French Chanson: Polly Leech, 20th Century British Composer: Judith Le Breuilly.