The seventh annual Airdrie Rotary Performing Arts Festival is set to begin March 12, kicking off 12 days of music and speech performances by more than 1,500 participants. According to Jennifer Harbour, festival co-ordinator, the event gives amateur performers and students the chance to perform in a non-competitive environment.
“The goal of this is to help lead them to further personal growth and excellence, so we hire adjudicators who are professionals in specific disciplines to workshop with them and give them feedback in a positive way,” Harbour said. “The non-competitive environment allows adjudicators to focus on learning and teaching.”
While performers are not being evaluated, Harbour said adjudicators will be making note of any standout performances. These students, she said, will be recommended for local or provincial scholarships, and could potentially go on to compete at a higher level.
The adjudicators, she added, specialize in a number of areas, including piano, voice, musical theatre, choir, strings and speech, as well as school bands and community choirs.
“It’s one thing to work with a teacher, who has credentials and is obviously a great resource, but to have someone who has traveled the world with a wealth of knowledge in one specific discipline, the educational benefits are immense,” Harbour said. “Our focus really is on the education side of things, providing students with techniques and tricks to help them advance.”
This year, Harbour said, 420 registrants will be performing during the 12-day festival – accounting for more than 1,500 individual performers. Another 40 to 50 volunteers will also be taking on various shifts throughout the event.
“It is a very large event, but it’s something we really feel benefits everyone who participates,” Harbour said. “And it’s also a great opportunity for people in the community to come out and see some local talent.”
Sessions run three times a day throughout the festival at one of two venues, Bert Church LIVE Theatre or Grace Baptist Church. A schedule of events will be posted at airdrierotaryfestival.org
“Anyone can come out and watch any of the sessions free of charge, but the best thing is for people to come watch our showcase finale concert,” Harbour said. “We select students from each discipline to showcase their performance at our benefit concert, which is our only fundraising event each year.”
This year’s event will take place March 24 at Bert Church Theatre. As an additional fundraising initiative, the Rotary Club will also be holding a progressive 50/50 draw, Harbour said. Tickets for the draw will be sold throughout the event, and can be purchased by phone, at the venue during sessions and at the showcase.
“We’ve got a big goal – we want to sell $10,000 worth of tickets over the 12 days, which means the winner will walk away with a $5,000 cash prize,” she said. “The money we raise stays in the community, covering our venue rentals and helping us fund future scholarships.”