Once again this year Chesterfield’s annual Music Festival was dominated by young performers, many of whom demonstrated considerable talent and all of whom showed effort, commitment and enthusiasm.
This year the festival concentrated on individual performers both vocal and instrumental.
Classes for various ages were held during the day on Saturday at Elder Yard Chapel and at Rose Hill Church and events culminated in the evening with an ‘All-Winners Concert’ at Rose Hill, during which judges also decided on awards for vocalist and instrumentalist of the festival, as well as an additional award, newly presented by Ann and Alan Shutt, for most promising young performer.
A small but appreciative audience was treated to a wide range of entertaining performances in all categories.
Performances ranged from the precocious to the genuinely moving, from those in need of a little more practice to ones of extremely high quality indeed.
The concert got underway with one of several songs from the eventual winner of the most promising young performer award, Declan Ryder, who went on to demonstrate considerable range of styles, most effectively of all in a spirited rendition of “Electricity” from the musical Billy Elliott. His dramatic performance had those very ‘sparks inside of me’ which Billy is singing about!
There were a number of young pianists showing off their developing skills. Particularly charming was seven-year old Alexander Wilmarsh, a pupil at Park House Primary in Lower Pilsley, whose ‘Blues’ was embellished not only with appropriate rhythm but with a Liberace smile for the final notes.
However, pride of place had to go to teenager Dominic Coyne, of Sheffield Music Academy, whose assured rendition of Scott Joplin’s well-known “Entertainer” showed fine variations of light and shade with ringing treble notes amidst an impressive syncopation. The flair and panache with which he handled this brought him a special commendation from the judges.
Other instrumental performances of note included the delightfully named ‘Flute Smoothies’, a quintet of very well-coordinated young flautists from Walton & Holymoorside Primary, who trilled out a lovely set of interweaving lines in ‘Moon River’.
However, once again this year, the outstanding instrumental performances both came from 12 year-old Highfield School student, Charlotte Hand, who demonstrated impressive command of both recorder and violin. Her performance of a recorder Sonata by Handel showed attack from the first notes and was graced by many little trills and frills: delightfully expressive throughout. However, she excelled even this with a beautifully played version of Elgar’s Chanson du Matin, her command of tone and pace showing a maturity beyond her years and a spirit of adventure which had no fear of trying for more difficult effects. The adjudicators can have had little hesitation in awarding her the prize for top instrumentalist for the second year running.
There was more competition in the vocalist section with several especially entertaining performances, including the one from Billy Elliott already mentioned. Hannah Walker was moving in ‘Far from the Home I Love’ and Philip Jacques, already a member of Chesterfield Gilbert & Sullivan Society, showed sustained control in a hall-filling version of Shenandoah, holding the long, slow deep notes with calm control. All the same, the award for Vocalist of the Festival had to go to 16 year old Jason Allen, a beautiful tenor voice in the making, whose swelling vocals in a fine Panis Angelicus filled the church - as well as hearts and maybe one or two eyes too.
This is a festival which deserves to go from strength to strength. Please help support its continuing encouragement of the young musicians of the district by going along to a fund-raising concert by the Chesterfield Co-operative Society Choir at Whittington Moor Methodist Church on Friday 21st June at 7.30 when a number of the young performers, including the award winners, will also be appearing. And make a note in your diary for next year’s Festival, scheduled for the 4th and 5th of April.