MUSICIANS united in perfect harmony for the glittering launch of the 107th annual Swindon Music Festival on Friday.
Held at locations in and around Old Town the festival marks an opportunity for the town’s best instrumental and vocal talent to take centre-stage.
Acclaimed cellist Kay Tucker adjudicated the first evening of events, dedicated to organ music and sacred song and held at Christ Church.
Chairman of Swindon Music Geoff Walters from Stratton, himself an accomplished pianist, said the night struck the right chord for the two weeks of musical festivities
“I can’t think of a better way to start the music festival, it was fantastic,” he said.
“It was beautiful hearing the music in the church which had fantastic acoustics. St Sampson’s choir put on a stunning performance before the Open Door choir which was absolutely fantastic, breath-taking.”
The Open Door Choir scooped the Hill Challenge Shield in the Adult Choirs division, with Cricklade’s St Sampson’s Choir taking the Church Choir Shield in the Adult Church Choirs division.
Representing the organists, Mrunal Mane was crowned winner in the Church Organ, grade 4 and under category with Claire Beaton awarded the Bill Ruck Church Organ Shield for her efforts in Grade 5 and over.
The Swindon Young Recorder players received the SYM Ensemble Trophy in the Instrumental Ensemble category.
Hitting all the right notes, Robert Felstead picked up the Ray Howell Trophy for the Oratorio category. Catherine Forty took home the George Snook Sacred Song Trophy in the Scared Song category.
The second evening, held at the Bath Road Methodist Church was devoted to brass, guitar, jazz and recorder performances.
Among the winners were Old Town’s Everybody Sing Junior Glee Club who took the WJ Davis Challenge Cup for best senior choir under 18, Alexander Harris for brass solo performance 12-16 years and duo Samuel James and Tom Absalom winning the Guitar duet Shield for grades 6, 7 and 8.
And Geoff said the stand-out performances had left him looking forward to the events ahead.
“I always look forward to the singing but I also love the piano recitals too,” he said.
“We’re seeing new faces every year and that’s what this competition is all about, the next generation of talent.”
The Swindon Music Festival is regarded as a good stepping stone for budding musicians and singers who will showcase their skills in daily classes for piano, guitar, brass, woodwind, strings, organs, choirs, solos, duets and composers.
Trophies and cups donated by well-known names around Swindon will be given to the class winners and these will include the Swindon Advertiser Cup for Girls or Boys' Solo under eight, the Holmes Music Guitar Trophy, Kentwood Trophy, Ray Dance and Judith Sharp Trophy and a cup from the chairman of the festival officials, the Geoff Walters Trophy.
In both 2006 and 2008 Liden singer Sarah Covey was crowned Vocal and Supreme Champion of the festival. She went on to graduate from the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, was an understudy for West End show Killer Queen and appeared in last year’s Eurovision song contest.
This year’s adjudicators are Glyndebourne and Welsh National Opera singer, Rebecca Moseley-Morgan, cellist Kay Tucker, who performs in a piano trio and string quartet, and Helen Deakin who studied piano and clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music.
Classes are held in the Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Christ Church and new this year, the Bath Road Methodist Church.
The Swindon Music Festival runs until March 19. Daytime sessions are £2, afternoons are £3 and concerts are £5. More details on 01793 823849 or visit www.swindonmusicfestival.co.uk.