SKIPTON Music Festival, which two years ago celebrated its 100th anniversary, has just come to an end - and its been hailed as one of the happiest for several years.

Held over two sites - at Christ Church and Trinity St Andrew's Methodist Church, the week long festival included classes for both children and adults.

It's main adjudicator, Donal McCrisken, who flew in from Belfast, said: "I greatly enjoyed my week and was impressed by the levels of musicianship, engagement and community spirit that I encountered. There were many delightful performances and striking work is being done by teachers in the fields of vocal, recorder and accordion performance in particular."

A festival adjudicator comments on all of the performances and has a huge influence on the whole feel of the event. Donal’s detailed and encouraging assessments and engaging approach went a long way to make this one of the happiest Festivals at Skipton for several years.

In a packed programme that saw entries reaching above our pre-Covid highs, we heard performances from three- and four-year-olds, up to some outstanding contributions from piano, violin, voice and recorder. Woodwind, brass, accordion and drums all featured in a delightful mix of music that reached many hearts, though sadly the handbells were missing this year.

Perhaps for the first time ever, the festival began on a Saturday. Sessions began, both in our usual Christ Church setting and in the more intimate surroundings of Trinity St Andrew Methodist Church. The festival is hugely grateful for the warm welcome from both churches.

At the time it seemed to be an easy choice. Put all of the piano “tinies” at Trinity while the adult open vocal classes took place at Christ Church. How wrong we were to think there’d be no overlap. We forgot that the teachers of seven year-old pianists would also be accompanying 70 year-old singers.

Double-bookings sorted, there were very happy sessions at both venues, during which Robert Marsh, our local adjudicator and Donal McCrisken both awarded coveted 'outstanding' grades; one to Yunhan Wu for a Chopin Mazurka and another to April Green for her rendition of Franz Lehar’s Vilja.

Beside these two, it was perhaps harder than usual to pick out headline-winning performances but that may be because the standard of the whole week was so high. When standing among giants, you need to be tall indeed.

Wednesday’s 'feast of recorders' was singled out for praise as was the variety of instruments on show in the Blue Riband recital classes. The year eight and under class was won by the piano under the very capable hands of Ivan Shi.

The other classes were both captured by the violin. Rachel Dow took the year 10 class – and particular mention was made of her 16 year-old brother Callum who accompanied her. Though it was only the solo performance that was judged, Donal was particularly impressed by the way that they and so many of our Skipton musicians made music together.

The Ann Ware Trophy is a beautiful copperplate engraving from 1743 and is the senior recital trophy, given in memory of our previous and much-loved secretary. This was won by violinist Saanvi Reddy – who has graced our posters all week.

Friday began with our youngest class. We welcomed nursery and reception classes to a morning of singing. Together with their parents and carers, they packed into church for an amazing display of singing, way beyond the predictable nursery rhymes that you might expect.

Our week finished, unusually, on a Friday night but still with the traditional concert. We relived some of the best moments and for the first time we all heard items that we hadn’t heard before – a result of having two concurrent sessions. There was the usual distribution of silverware and a few well-chosen words from a few well-chosen people. Finally, a bouquet and some malt whisky signalled the end of a fabulous week. 

Main prize winners:

Ann Ware Trophy (year 13 and under recital)- Saanvi Reddy; Leslie Robinson Trophy (most promising recorder player) -Freya Parkinson; Soroptimists Trophy (for a performance by a small group) - Moorfield Recorder Group; Grassington Festival Trophy (stage presence) - Florence Churcher; President’s Prize (performance which gave most pleasure in the week) - April Green; Jeremy Russell Trophy (Most promising pianist under 19) -Yunhan Wu; Skipton Town Council Trophy (Most promising performer under 19) -Saanvi Reddy.