Young musicians shine at 101st Skipton Music Festival

·4-min read
Olivia Kong, 5, and Sheila, year 4 and under piano duet <i>(Image: Wendy Robinson.)</i>
Olivia Kong, 5, and Sheila, year 4 and under piano duet (Image: Wendy Robinson.)

ANOTHER successful Skipton Music Festival has come to an end - inspiring young musicians from Craven and far and wide.

The 101st week-long festival, first held in 1922, took place at Christ Church, Skipton and saw entries from children and adults from six to 60-years old in classes including singing, piano, bell-ringing and accordion playing.

Here, Chris Wright, one of the organisers, reports on this year's event and makes a plea for music and arts teaching to remain in schools - commenting that we 'lose them at our peril'.


SOME teachers may send 20 pupils to the Skipton Music Festival.

They train, cajole, encourage and inspire the young musicians of Craven and then bring them to experience what is sometimes their first taste of performance. Some may indeed send 20 but one family managed this all on their own.

Between them, Olivia and Erin Rix clocked up 22 entries, gathered 17 certificates, six awards and would have won the 'Festival Frequent Flyer Gold Medal' if we awarded such a thing.

Whether they have one pupil, ten or 20, our music teachers are the life-blood, not just of our festival but of the whole community. The huge treasure chest of talent that was on show all week bears witness to the skill, the passion and the sheer hard work of our Craven teachers.

They were, quite rightly, acknowledged by several of those who visited us and they richly deserve our thanks.

So much rests on their shoulders in these days of tight-stretched budgets and the Government-led requirement to concentrate on easily-assessed criteria.

We are being led down a path that ignores the immeasurable benefits of the arts in any of their forms, whether they be graphical, movement, dramatic or musical. If we lose all of this from our schools our lives and those of our young people will be deeply damaged and one function of both Skipton’s festival and of the worldwide festival movement must be to protest against the erosion of this vital core of our very being.

And what talent we have seen! Several 'outstanding' awards were given for amazing performances. Some, like Leo Lord-Cloke and Andrew Clay are now preparing to leave school and move on to university.

Ivan Shi and Florence Churcher have travelled less far on their musical journeys but are already shining as significant stars. But so much of the power and the value of a music festival comes, not from the star performances but from the joy and exuberance of simply taking part.

In a week of great music, we heard the piano and organ, saxophone, clarinet and bassoon with a glockenspiel, recorders, fifes, boomwhackers and accordions.

There were strings and drums, singers, ringers and flautists. There is space in the festival for the very young. Nursery schools and reception classes filled the hall one morning. With her short legs dangling free of the carpet, Alaina played the piano alongside her teacher.

Last year’s comforting cuddly Snow Leopard safely abandoned, Erin stood proudly with her clarinet to be awarded a distinction. Only to be relegated to second place by an 'outstanding' performance on the saxophone by her big sister.

It is often the smaller stories of the festival that make for fascinating reading. In today’s instant world, a longer look shows unsuspecting riches.

We see the nervous young girl or boy evolve into a confident young person, capable of holding a captivated audience.

We see the growth of young people, nurtured by the arts in a way that is inaccessible to the regimented requirements of SATS results. If you value the sanity of our young people, then cherish your music teachers and do all you can to preserve music and the arts in our schools. We will lose them at our peril.


Main Prizewinners:

Leslie Robinson Trophy for the most promising recorder player - Zeb Proctor, Shipley.

Jeremy Russell Trophy for the most promising pianist under 19 - Ivan Shi, Leeds.

Skipton Town Council Trophy for the most promising performer under 19 - Saanvi Reddy, Blackburn.

Grassington Festival Trophy for stage presence - Alfie Davies, Ripon.

President’s Prize for performance which has given most pleasure during the week - Clara Nattress, Ilkley.

Soroptimists’ Trophy for performance by a small group - Shipley Recorder Trio, Shipley.

Ann Ware Trophy for Senior Recital Winner - Leo Lord-Cloke, Skipton.