The search is on for the next supreme champion of the Swindon Music Festival.

Musicians and singers of all ages are urged to polish up their brass, pluck up their strings, warm up their vocals and pick up a copy of the 2018 syllabus, which is out now.

Last year's Supreme Champion was Zoe Tan who scooped the C S Macpherson Trophy.

Entries need to sign up for the 109th annual festival before Friday, January 12, 2018.

Over the past few years there have been a marked rise in the number of pianists entering the competition, so this year organisers have decided to give them a competition of their own.

The Beatrice Plaum Challenge Cup will be awarded to the winner of the Junior Piano Competition which will take place on the same evening as the Instrumental Championship on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

Geoff Walters, chairman of the festival, said: "Pianists make up about a third of our entries so we decided to give them a specific competition for their classes.''

The festival begins on Friday, March 16 2018 at Christ Church for classes in church organ and choirs.

"It would be nice to have more choirs entering,'' said Geoff. "The evening at Christ Church is so lovely and they can sing hymns, sacred music, anthems or their own choice of song.''

The bulk of the classes then move to the Swindon Arts Centre in Devizes Road, Old Town, from Saturday, March 17, 2018 to Saturday, March 24, 2018 including the Junior Vocal Championship and the Vocal Championship Cup Contest.

All singers are accompanied by Swindon's own concert pianist Paul Turner, the founder of the recital series in the town. Paul has played at the Wigmore Hall recitals with Patricia Rozario and Caroline Dale, has recorded concerts with Elizabeth Watts for the BBC, played concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's In Tune programme.

The adjudicators are Christopher Daly, James Kirby and Andrea Calladine.

Other trophies and cups awarded throughout the festival include the Swindon Advertiser Cup for Girls' or Boys' Solo under eight, The Holmes Music Woodwind Trophy and The Senior Guitar Solo Trophy.

While Swindon has produced more pianists the older singers seem to have fallen away from the festival and Geoff would like to encourage the adults to return.

"We have so many really good, older singers in this town, the festival is for people to enjoy singing, people are not there to criticise,'' he said.

Geoff himself has been involved with the festival since 1952 when he was nine and entering for the first time.

"I love going and taking part. It is a special week in my calendar,'' he said.

Geoff's father, Arthur Walters, was a previous festival chairman, serving until 1990 and his mother Betty Walters was on the committee.

"My grandfather was on the first committee which was set up following the success of the first festival in 1909, when there were just six choirs in the Mechanics Institute,'' said Geoff, who is keen to help the next generation with their first steps in music as well as provide an entertaining festival for everyone, covering everything from folk to pop, choral to opera, gospel to jazz.

"One of my biggest wishes for this year is to persuade the many older people living in Old Town to pop down for a session to see some great music during the day,'' said Geoff.

To be in with a chance of scooping the championship trophy visit for more details, syllabus and entry form - Flicky Harrison