Lacombe to be overtaken by music next month

“In hockey we have tournaments. That’s not possible in music.” — Norm Start

It’s time to celebrate music.

On March 3, the 33rd Annual Lacombe Music Festival begins. Norm Start, president of the Lacombe Music Festival, said that the event began to help young people studying music further their skills.

“It was started to give our young people a chance to showcase their abilities and talents,” said Start.

While musicians get the chance to showcase skills at typical performances, start said that another important aspect for the music festival was to give music students a chance to receive some feedback on their performances, something that does not happen in typical recitals or concerts.

Start likened the music festival to sports. He said that it was the musicians’ chance to test their skills and see how they ranked, much like a game or tournament for a sports team.

“In hockey we have tournaments. That’s not possible in music.”

That critiquing aspect of the festival is a crucial one, said Start. He added that it can be essential for students wishing to go further with music (such as teaching it themselves or pursuing an otherwise musical career), to receive outside instruction in one way or another. Lacombe’s musical festival is one way of helping them do that.

“It’s all geared toward helping young people achieve their dreams,” said Start. He added that, while he is not a musician, as a retired teacher he knows the value of constructive criticism.

“Positive evaluation, positive feedback, is very, very important. But also being able to give pointers on how one can continue to grow is very important.”

Start’s words are not unwarranted. Many of the musicians who participated in the Lacombe Music Festival in their younger years now enjoy healthy careers in music and some even lend their hand to adjudicating the festival.

There is a competition aspect to the festival as well. Start said that fi rst, second and third places are awarded in each of the disciplines and those who qualify will go on to perform in the provincial music festival. Those who qualify from there may even have the opportunity perform at a national festival.

While the festival is geared mostly towards young performers, Start said it is open to all ages. He added that some of the singers in some of the choirs participating are well into their senior years.

There are 1,025 musicians in nine disciplines (piano, choral, band, speech, strings, pipe organ, vocal, instrumental and guitar) partaking in the festival. Eight adjudicators will create the participants on their performances in the disciplines.

Sessions for the festival will be held at a number of venues throughout the City, many of them churches. Start commented on how fortunate the festival is that the community of Lacombe has embraced it.

“It is a community event, we are very fortunate to be able to use space in the church facilities,” said Start. He added that most of the facilities donate the space rent-free.

The Lacombe Music Festival will begin at noon on March 3 with choral singing at St. Andrew’s United Church. From there, other sessions in different disciplines will be held elsewhere in the City.

The festival runs March 3-7, takes a break for the weekend and resumes on March 10 ending on March 12. Start added the Grand Concert will be held at 2 p.m. on March 16 at St. Andrew’s United Church.