Looking for Mozart

February 24, 2010

245671Our very own Music Instructor Sandra Wilmott is featured this month in our local Kelowna Newspaper called “Event”.

Mozart began composing at the age of five, and while the Kiwanis Performing Arts Festival of the Central Okanagan isn‘t expecting any child prodigies that young, they‘re offering a $100 prize for the best composition submitted by a child 12 and under. Oh, and to keep things fair, there‘s also a price of $100 for those over 12 to compete for as well. This is the third year music composition has been part of the festival and Kelowna violinist/composer Sandra Wilmot has been asked to be adjudicator.

“I have probably one of the most interesting adjudicating jobs at the festival because I‘m not judging the performers as interpreters, I‘m judging them as the creators of the piece they‘re playing, so it‘s different parameters.”

This will be the 84th annual Kiwanis festival here in the Central Okanagan and what started as a simple two-day event has now grown to be a three-week festival. Whether the festival will make it to year 85, however, is a serious concern.

“We lost our gaming grant this year,” said executive director Marvin Dickau, “$20,000 wiped out and in our world that‘s quite significant.”

As a result of the funding slash, organizers had to make cuts of their own, including the entire dance competition.

“We‘re having to do it lean and mean this year,” sighed Dickau. “We did everything we could to try and keep it, but we just couldn‘t chance it … when our bank account gets to zero, we have to stop.”

There are, however, some bright spots to the festival, expected to attract between 2,000 to 2,500 competitors – slightly down from last year‘s 3,000.

“Speech arts has really become much bigger this year. Two years ago, it was a one-day event, last year it went to two, and this year, we‘re having to move it to three days.”

Most of the speech arts entrants are coming from local schools.

“We‘ve got between 80 to 100 entrants from the new Chute Lake school alone. We‘ve had to change the venue because of space needed,” Dickau noted.

Also up this year are band entrants as they‘ve had a lot of interest from Vancouver Island bands who would like to compete.

“Bands are always held at Creekside Theatre,” said Dickau, adding that the rest of the events are held in various churches.

The cost of venues is one the item that hits the annual budget. Another is the cost of adjudicators, which is why having someone local of Wilmot‘s qualifications available to adjudicate the music composition is a bonus for the festival. Wilmot studied composition with composer Imant Raminsch and had pieces commissioned and performed by the Vancouver Chamber Choir and University of Victoria. “I love writing,” said Wilmot. However, she admits she hasn‘t been able to write as much as she‘d like with most of her time “gobbled up” by teaching and performing with both the Okanagan Symphony and the Kamloops Symphony.

Wilmot first began composing when she was 13, spurred on by the encouragement of Raminsch, who also is the music director of the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan – the first symphony she played with.

While some students might not have most fond memories of theory classes that are requirements for Royal Conservatory exams, Wilmot was the opposite.

“It was brought to me in a way that was alive, not just something I had to do to pass an exam.” Wilmot encourages those who haven‘t tried their hand at composing to take a crack at it.

“There‘s a whole other side of music that you can discover through composition … the benefits are huge because of what you can discover about yourself as well as the music you play written by other people.”

The Kiwanis Performing Arts Festival of the Central Okanagan gets underway April 5 and runs through to April 24 It will close with a gala concert featuring some of the top performers of the festival at the Kelowna Community Theatre on May 2.

The public is encouraged to drop by and check out the festival at any time during the three weeks. You can download a copy of the syllabus for free from their website, kelownakiwanisfestival.com, for a full listing of what events are happening where and when.