SKIPTON Festival is 100 years old in 2022. This is an amazing achievement! It is one of the oldest in the British and International Federation of Festivals of which it is a long standing member.

I wonder how many people in Skipton and the surrounding area know of its existence and more importantly what is sets out to achieve each year.

The festival exists to provide opportunities for performance in the arts in a supportive environment. Over the years, it has run classes for speech and drama and music. Currently, it runs for a week in February/March and concentrates on wide ranging performances in music.

Each day of the week long festival is different with solos, duets, ensembles, choirs performing on a variety of instruments and voices across the age range from the youngest - about three years old - to those who have retired and everyone in between.

It has been my privilege to adjudicate on a number of occasions and in 2020 it was, as always, an absolute joy.

There was one whole morning with a hall full of pre school children all of whom had learnt special songs for the occasion and performed them with enormous energy and tremendous enjoyment.

They also listened to young performers as they played their instruments for them and showed them how they worked. What a wonderful start for these children as they begin their musical journey.

Another day was dominated by school choirs who filled the church to capacity and gave us all hope that the art of choral singing is still alive and being enjoyed in our schools today. Their enthusiasm was infectious as they listened to each other and supported every performance by applauding enthusiastically.

It was a joy for me to hear performances in solos and small ensembles across the age range which gave clear evidence of very sound and dedicated teaching. Solos, duets, trios played with obvious involvement and sense of achievement. Performances which were often not only note perfect but which also showed understanding of the style and intention of the composition and duets, trios,quartets vocal and instrumental which showed not only that they had been well prepared but which showed the joy and the discipline in the art of performing together.

This is what the festival is all about – sharing what you have prepared, enjoying listening to others and coming away with renewed enthusiasm to move forward in making music.

However this does not happen by magic but by the dedication of a small band of volunteers who believe that the future of music performance in Skipton should be not only preserved but developed.

They are prepared to invest considerable time , energy and skill to keep up the tradition of this fine event.

It also depends on teachers who give of their time and expertise to ensure that each performer and performing group come to the stage with confidence. Performers have gone on from this festival to universities and conservatoires with confidence in performing that this festival has given them.

So, in 2022 look out for the festival, go along and enjoy the performances and celebrate the achievement that your festival at Skipton has given to the town and surrounding area over the last 100 years.

Congratulations Skipton Festival.