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Young musicians prepare for spotlight

While baseball’s regular season is underway, it’s still spring training for the area’s young musicians: competition doesn’t begin in earnest until Apr. 19, when the Elmira & District Kiwanis Music Festival starts.

The weeklong event will see some 125 performers as young as five years play in front of judges in the categories of junior and senior piano, strings and flute. The festival will feature solos, duets, trios, quartets, violin solos, vocals, and ensembles.

Violin students Karley Sider and Katie Bartel will be competing in the Elmira Kiwanis Music Festival, which gets underway Apr. 19.
Violin students Karley Sider and Katie Bartel will be competing in the Elmira Kiwanis Music Festival, which gets underway Apr. 19.

Kiwanis Music Festivals are a mainstay in communities across Canada at this time of year. The Elmira version features youngsters from Waterloo Region’s rural townships.

Participants at the festival will perform in a number of classes divided according to grade level, age, and musical ability. A wide variety of music genres will be covered, including baroque, romantic, rock and pop.
Most of the performances, running Apr. 19-23, will take place at Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira, while Evangelical Missionary Church will host the flute competition on Apr. 22.

The public is encouraged to take in the performances at their leisure, said Sue Brenner, secretary for the event with which she’s been involved for more than 25 years.

In that time she’s seen many young musicians – some terrified as first-time performers – pass through the festival experience stronger for it. The music is first class, she noted.

“Everyone’s welcome any time of the day – come out if you enjoy good music.”

Four adjudicators will be on hand to mark the students’ performances. Following the formal competition, a final concert will be held on the Saturday (Apr. 24) showcasing the top musicians. It will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Woodside.

“We’re really hoping that the community will come – there’s some really great music played,” said music teacher Jackie Wall, some of whose students will be taking part in the festival.

Wall is part of the Elmira Music Teachers Association which hosted a free community recital Thursday evening at Emmanuel Evangelical Missionary Church, giving students a performance opportunity to hone their skills in advance of the “big event.”

Among those competing will be Katie Bartel, 14, and Karley Sider, 12. Both are studying the violin with Wall, and both will be competing in the festival for the second time – the violin was added to the festival just last year.

Having been through the experience once before, Karley said she will be a little less nervous this time, knowing what to expect. She picked up the instrument three years ago, and now hopes to play professionally.

“I started off with piano, but it was always my dream to be a violinist.”

Katie has been playing for at least eight years – “since I was really young” – and is busy practicing a variety of pieces, including works by Bartok and Vivaldi, in preparation for the festival.

She, too, is feeling more relaxed going into her second competition.

The two violinists, like all the young competitors, are putting in plenty of hard work in preparation for the festival, said Wall, noting that the discipline will serve them into adulthood.

Adherence to musical studies is also “character building,” she added.

In the more immediate future – beginning Apr. 19 – the musicians will be vying for trophies and scholarships as rewards for their efforts.


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