Festival roars with Okotoks area talent
High River: Deadline for Highwood Lions Music event is Jan. 31
Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018 06:00 am
Talented Okotoks and area performers have caused a positive uproar at a nearly four-decade old music festival.
Or make that a roar.
The Highwood Lions Music Festival will celebrate its 39th anniversary when performers from pianists to musical theatre artists hit the stage in High River March 5-23.
"Over 60 per cent of the artists are from Okotoks,” said festival board member Naomi Koch, who is also a singing instructor in Okotoks. "I think it's because of the bigger population and plus there are a lot of music teachers and talented young performers in the area."
The deadline to register for the 2018 festival is Jan. 31. And if past history is any indication, there will be plenty of talent participating.
"I think there are about 1,200 students involved [from across the Foothills] and our goal is to sustain those numbers or even surpass those numbers. We also encourage students, parents and teachers that haven't heard of the festival yet, or are new to town or those thinking about being part of the Highwood festival. we encourage them to participate."
It's an opportunity to have one's work studied in an encouraging way, with as much charm as the new down-town look in High River.
"It's really hands-on," Koch said. "The adjudicator takes time to work with each individual student on stage after their performances. It's creates such a positive environment to learning and makes it more educational... It' not so intimidating as the larger festivals.
The adjudicators are top-notch with a gentle, keen, critical eye to help performers of all ages.
There has been lots of sweet music come from the stages at the festival.
Past Lions music festival performers include Ellen Doty, a jazz singer who will perform in Calgary in March 3. Opera singer Nicole Percifield from Blackie, who studied music at Yale and sang at Carnegie Hall with two other Yalies, sharpened her skills at the Lions festival.
More recently pianist Michael Son from Okotoks and High River's Alyshia-Grace Hobday who is now with Storybook Theatre in Calgary, also were long-time performers at the festival.
Darren Stuber is better known in these parts for helping young men with the finer skills of football in the Okotoks area, but he now sits on the Lions music festival board after seeing how it helped his daughter Sierra.
"The festival is such a great environment for Sierra to learn and grow as a performer,” Stuber said. "One of the hardest thing is to find the opportunity to perform."
Sierra was a regular performer in musical theatre at the festival. She is now a student at the Alberta High School of Fine Arts.
The festival also has participation from virtually all the schools in the Foothills area, be it for band, theatre, speech or singing.
Some of the different categories at the festival include musical theatre, voice, violin, strings, speech, choral, brass, woodwinds, percussion and junior, intermediate and senior piano.
The festival also puts on its greatest hits with the Adjudicator's showcase on March 24, in which the public is invited.
Any performers interested in registering the festival — the deadline is Jan. 31 — can go to highwoodmusicfestival.com