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Starting a second half-century


Approximately 5,000 people are getting ready to perform their art in Grand Falls-Windsor next month.

Beson

The Grand Falls-Windsor Kiwanis Club are set to host its 51st annual Kiwanis Music Festival.

Those permformer will be coming from all over central Newfoundland, from the Baie Verte area, to the Lewisporte area, and the South Coast and Connaigre Peninsula.

The number, though still high, has gone down in the last few years, and this year totals more than 700 entries.

“It has dropped down a fair bit,” festival chair Andre Beson said. “That’s unfortunate. “It’s still impressive...”

 “Kids have so many more options these days.”

But they are plugging on, and the more than 100 volunteers, both Kiwanians and others, are ready to do whatever it takes to make the festival a success.

The volunteers are dedicated, Beson said, adding the same people year after year come out to help.

“They don’t ask for anything in return,” he said. “They always look forward to it. And we cannot do it without them.”

Businesses are very supportive, as well, Beson said.

“It’s not only here in Grand Falls-Windsor, we get support from businesses in Green Bay and the South Coast, the Bay d’Espoire-Connaigre area have been great, so have Bishop’s Falls, Botwood, Lewisporte - all these places all donate in some way,” Beson said.

The week-long festival runs from Sun., April 10 to Sat., April 16, a little later this year because Easter is early, and organizers hope to avoid weather interruptions.

He said usually once spring arrives its safe weather-wise.

“Before that you are usually at the whim of Mother Nature,” Beson said.

Participants perform in front of adjudicators in their respective category and get feedback.

Categories include: senior and junior piano; senior and junior voice; speech (choral or solo); instrumental (bands as well as instruments); and music theatre (Broadway as well as traditional and sacred music).

“We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have some great adjudicators and this year is not going to be any exception,” Beson said.

“They will critique, but they are very helpful. They say ‘let’s go over this again and I can show you how to make it better.’ So they provide wonderful adjudication, wonderful tips and help with their performances. You can’t ask for any better.”

The adjudicators also choose participants for the three Rose Bowls — the Senior, Junior and Group Rose Bowl (the Stanley Rose Bowl) — which takes place Friday afternoon.

There are also 17 major awards to be presented Saturday evening, including a $3,000 scholarship which is by application and goes to somebody who plans to music school.

There are Highlights of the Festival concerts Friday evening and Saturday evening. Family Night Wednesday night is another highlight of the festival.

Though numbers are down for registration for that as well, the Family Night organizers  are going to fill it in with choirs.

“We’ve had as many as 19 or 20 (families) at one point,” Beson said. “We did a little bit of promotion on that to try to get it up because we had a lot less than that. We got it up to nine (families).

“We got to keep plugging away. As long as we keep plugging away we’ll get it back up but it takes more than just the Kiwanis Club, it takes music teachers, it takes parents, it takes kids.”

The music festival, other than being a lot of fun, has many benefits for participants, he added.

It allows young people to become more at ease while speaking in public, so they can more easily do school speeches or presentations, Beson said.

“If you get used to doing that in a group setting with lots of family and friends and strangers all standing around watching you perform, you can’t argue with that,” Beson said.

“That’s a great way to overcome your fear of public speaking. It’s a great character builder. I think to learn to perform, whether its solo speech or music or whatever, I think that builds confidence in people. I think it’s great.”

Also, he added, it is often said we are we are going to lose our culture because people are not taking the time to learn about Newfoundland music, traditional music, and traditional recitations.

“It’s a dying art,” Beson said.

“If we don’t encourage our kids to get involved we’ll lose it and that’s unfortunate.”

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