THE busy Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts: Festival of Piano and Song week opened at Christchurch in Ilkley with a non competitive piano class for children up to the age of eight.

All twenty arrived displaying an amazing lack of nerves at being faced with a wonderful Steinway piano, generously provided, yet again, by Adam Cox of Cavendish Pianos at Bolton Abbey.

Adjudicator Caroline Clemmow, much praised throughout by parents for her advice to the performers, praised their confidence and told them to think about using “louds and softs” in their performances.

The day continued with a mixture of piano classes from solo performances to duets and trios, where the adjudicator commented on the rarity of having such full classes and the important role of diplomacy and teamwork in playing with partners.

She advised the performers on using the left pedal on the grand piano to change the quality of sound and how altering the balance of notes could bring out different sound qualities.

Wednesday opened with an impressive ‘Concert’ performance by a 13-year-old year old from Richmond and the audience was treated to what turned out to be a master class in interpretation as the adjudicator suggested alternatives in dynamic variety, all the while praising the lovely programme and commenting on how much she was “enjoying speaking about interpretation rather than just notes”.

This was followed by a Recital class of gifted youngsters up to 15-years-old and an afternoon and evening filled with beautiful sounds from children all still at school.

It was a humbling experience and the fact that the piano entries had increased by 64 per cent this year with performers from all over the north of England demonstrated the Festival’s growing popularity.

Thursday offered the singers an opportunity to shine and again started with the non competitive performers opening a day filled with variety.

The audience enjoyed vocal selections from Folk Song, Stage and Screen, Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan and the exam syllabus, as well as hearing performances in different languages from performers singing alone or in duets. The adjudicator praised the commitment offered to their work and the wonderful variety of performances when giving each person an individual report.

The Friday Concert and Awards evening was attended by invited guests including The Lord Mayor of Bradford Cllr Zafar Ali, the Deputy Mayor of Ilkley Cllr Mike Gibbons, Ilkley ward Councillor Anne Hawkesworth and Ilkley Town councillors Andrew Wallbank and Brian Mann with his wife Sylvia.

We were delighted to welcome again Sir James Hill, the Deputy Lieutenant and our Vice President, this time with his wife Lady Sandy Hill as well as Adam Cox from Cavendish Pianos and Jill Wright from the Federation of Festivals: None of our guests escaped lightly as they were all called upon to present awards!

Our next venture will be the Dance Championship held at Guiseley Theatre on the first two weekends of November when we have competitors from all over the North hoping secure a place, through our heats, in the Finals of “Miss Dance” later in the year, and a chance to win a prize of over £3000.

The festival would like to thank everyone for their continued support and to ask for your votes when we appear in the boxes beyond the tills in Tesco as part of their charity ‘Bags of Help’ Scheme in November and December this year.

Pat Dibb, General Secretary, WFPA

*Photos by Lizzie Whitely and Evelyn van Terheyden