Woodley Festival of Music and ArtsBy Caroline Cook
March 01, 2012
The tinkling of piano keys and a chorus of a thousand voices will be booming out of Woodley this weekend for the 42nd Festival of Music and Arts.
A record number of musicians will be taking to the stage to present a showcase of the most talented singers and instrumentalists in the town.
Nearly 1,000 performances will be given by more than 2,000 musicians during the three-week festival which starts on Saturday, March 3.
Colin Brown, co-chairman of the festival, said: “Festivals like this are all about having fun and provide an ideal opportunity to perform before a professional adjudicator and an enthusiastic audience.
“Every performer is awarded a certificate, and many medals and trophies are won.”
The festival will kick off with performances at Emmbrook School in Emmbrook Road, Wokingham, on Saturday, March 3, where 2,500 visitors will come together to watch a record 29 choirs.
The Woodley festival is held each year and gives people of all ages the chance to sing and perform using a range of instruments.
It is a self-funding event and relies on the income generated from entry fees and sponsorship to cover the £18,000 cost of putting on the event.
But despite the tough economic climate it promises to be bigger and better than ever this year.
Publicity officer Claire Smith said: “The Woodley Festival is bucking the trend of many other regional festivals with choir, vocal, instrumental and piano entries all at record highs.
“The festival organisers are very grateful not just for the generosity, but also the hands-on involvement, of their sponsor, MANNINGUK, who are supporting the event for the 7th consecutive year.
“It takes an army of some 50 volunteers to help ensure that this wonderful event runs smoothly.”
Over the course of four weekends festival-goers will be able to enjoy a variety of performances alongside a panel of experienced adjudicators who will judge the events.
Pianist Paul Roberts, vocalist Ian Kennedy, cellist Kay Tucker, actor Margery Jackson and teacher Jenny Thornton will be deciding who wins the top awards for each category.
Mr Roberts will also be giving a musically illustrated talk on Sunday, March 11, detailing the works of Debussy, followed by two piano classes added for this year only to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth.
There will also be a vocal masterclass by Ian Kennedy on Sunday, March 18, designed to inspire and entertain young performers.
The majority of the festival will take place at The Oakwood Centre in Headley Road, although choral verse speaking classes will take place at Dolphin School in Waltham Road, Hurst, on Sunday, March 17.
The musical celebrations will finish with a finale concert at Bearwood College in Sindlesham on Sunday, March 25, with a showcase of the 25 most memorable performances.
Tickets to the festival are available on the door at £2 for adults and no charge for children.
People can also buy tickets for £6 to enjoy any or all of the entertainment on offer across the three weekends.
For a full programme visit www.woodleyfestival.org.uk