Skipton Music Festival would normally have been held this month, but will not take place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Steven Roberts, one of its trustees and an adjudicator, looks forward to next year and its 100th anniversary.

THE British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech celebrates 100 years this year and only just before the same milestone for Skipton Music Festival.

The federation is the umbrella body that supports amateur performing arts festivals, giving opportunities to half a million performers annually and helped by over 25,000 volunteers.

Taking part in a festival allows you to be in front of an audience, receive valuable comments from an adjudicator, learn from watching other performances and perhaps most importantly builds confidence.

This confidence may translate to a career in a performing arts related industry, but almost certainly puts you on a stage where skills in presentation can support you whatever you do.

The reach of the festival movement is truly global, with member festivals throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Whether in the UK, Sri Lanka, Cork, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, or Singapore the message is still the same ‘Perform, Educate, Inspire’.

The federation officially formed in 1921 although there are records of amateur performing arts festivals taking place across the UK as early as 1872 and it has seen literally millions of children, young people and adults pass through its doors in that time.

As Chair of the Trustees of the Federation I have had the opportunity to adjudicate at many of our festivals. Each brings its own unique character and sense of belonging, each has a specific and tailored offer which supports the community in which it operates. Most important are the army of volunteers, who for the benefit of everyone involved manage the logistics of marshalling both performers and audiences, in the case of Skipton through a week of musical joy.

Composer, organist, conductor and educator Sir Henry Walford Davies spoke at the Federation’s 1922 conference and described the spirit of what we witness at every festival still to this day.

“I never dreamed that anybody looked on the competition as an end in itself…surely our whole end is what happens after the competition has obtained the excellence we all desire…...for the reason that by means of them you make the performers not beat each other but pace each other on the road to excellence.”

Skipton Music Festival has consistently offered a way forward for all those who wanted to travel that road and has without fail given opportunity after opportunity to so many in its 100 years.

Whilst no live festival will take place in 2021, the planning to celebrate and to shout loudly and proudly about its success over the years will not be diminished.

On a personal note, I look forward to adjudicating at the 100th festival in 2022!