A long-time Lethbridge tradition returns on Monday for a two-week engagement.
It’s the 84th edition of the Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival, which will take place at several venues throughout the city, showcasing the talents of elementary, middle and high school students.
For these young performers, taking the stage at the Kiwanis Festival is roughly equivalent to major celebrities performing at Carnegie Hall. It’s a big highlight, and for many youngsters, it might mark the apex of their performing days. For others, the festival is but a stepping stone to bigger things. The list of celebrities who performed on Kiwanis Festival stages as youths includes Gordon Lightfoot, Sylvia Tyson, composer/producer David Foster, classical guitarist Liona Boyd, rocker Bryan Adams and “Late Show with David Letterman” music director Paul Shaffer.
But many local performers who have graced the Kiwanis stage have gone on to success in the music and arts fields, too, and chances are some of this year’s festival participants will do the same.
Festival audiences are filled with proud moms and dads, grandparents and other relatives, but other citizens enjoy taking in the event even if they don’t have a familial connection to anyone who is performing. They are simply fans of music and the arts, and the festival is a showcase of those areas. The performers may be amateurs but the quality of performances can be not only impressive, but stirring.
The young participants of the Kiwanis Festival work hard to prepare for the annual event and are surely appreciative of those who take the time to come and see them perform. As indicated in this week’s cover story, festival performances take place every day from March 31 to April 12 at eight different venues including the Yates Memorial Centre, Écolé Agnes Davidson, the Lethbridge Public Library Gallery, the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Southminster United Church, St. Augustine’s Church and the St. Augustine’s Hall plus St. Patrick Fine Arts Elementary school (80 River Green Road West). Admission to performances is just $2, or you can pick up a festival program for $10 at Long & McQuade or The Music Court which serves as a festival pass.
The festival will also feature a musical theatre showcase April 5 and the Stars of the Festival performance on April 12.
American jazz musician Herbie Hancock once noted, “Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.”
Berthold Auerbach, a German-Jewish poet and author from the 19th century, observed, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Take in this year’s Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival and wash away some dust.