I have just returned from the British and International Federation of Festivals Conference which was held in Bristol over the weekend. Music Festivals are mini amateur competitions held all around the UK (there are many abroad too) and they play an important role in the British music scene. Consisting of many different instrumental, vocal and chamber music classes, a festival provides an excellent opportunity for budding young musicians to perform and receive constructive criticism from an experienced adjudicator. That’s my job. I was fortunate enough to be selected last October and have attended various ‘test’ days over the past year where I have routinely had to demonstrate my ability and suitability to be an adjudicator. Selection is quite a lengthy procedure and very few are recommended to join the panel of professional adjudicators (there were just two of us last October).
The Federation Conference was attended by approximately 150 delegates from the Speech, Drama and Music areas of each festival; these mainly included festival organisers and adjudicators. During the three day event there were copious lectures and discussions relating to important issues ensuring each festival runs smoothly.
I particularly enjoyed the guest speaker, Andrew Curran, who is a Consultant Paediatric Neurologist and TV Presenter. His talk examined the effects of performances on the human condition. It was fascinating. We were treated to an indepth description of how the brain works and how this affects our music making and thought processes. Curran was humourous yet hard hitting in approach and some of his conclusions were thought provoking indeed.
The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to chat to all those involved in the Federation. This is possibly the only chance festival organisers get to meet those who work at Federation House allowing them to ask pertinent questions regarding the successful coordination of their festival. It’s also an ideal occasion for adjudicators like myself to meet these organisers with a view to future bookings. I have since been booked for several festivals in 2014 – in the distant future or so it seems, but festival adjudicators are often booked many years ahead. My first engagement at the moment will be next June at the Leamington Spa Festival where I will adjudicate two days of piano classes (I’m a generalist adjudicator as well as a piano specialist).
There are many ways to get pianists and piano students performing publically but a music festival is a great chance to play locally and meet other like minded individuals. If you are an instrumental or music teacher with students who would benefit from practising their pieces before their music exams or perhaps you are an adult who would like performing experience, then do consider entering. There will be a festival near you so take advantage of it.