All ready for The Guild

Rory Donegan winner of the instrumental solo brass up to Year 6 in the 2013 Manx Music Festival

Rory Donegan winner of the instrumental solo brass up to Year 6 in the 2013 Manx Music Festival

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All ages are set to compete in the island’s biggest music, speech and dance festival – affectionately known as The Guild – taking place from tomorrow (Friday, April 25) to Saturday, May 3.

The Manx Music Festival is a platform for talented folk in the island to showcase their capabilities and through the festival’s competitve nature gain motivation for improvement.

It is a huge variety show featuring 165 classes in total, from solos, duets, groups, choirs, instrumental performances to bible readings, public speaking, dancing and more.

There are 1,600 entries in the festival involving, including the choirs, 2,000 people. The youngest competitor taking part is five years old and the oldest, Laurence Kermode from Douglas, is in his 90s, who is an entrant in the adult folk song class.

The festival in the main takes place at the Villa Marina’s Royal Hall or Promenade Suite. However, some classes will be held in St Thomas’ Church hall, Douglas, and in the Empress Hotel, Douglas.

David Cowley, secretary of The Manx Music Festival, said: ‘The Guild is a wonderful festival because people are supportive of each other.

‘One particular evening to feel the support is the Saturday [April 26] with the junior Songs from the Musicals. It has got juniors in the 14 to 18 age group singing songs from the shows ... the best part of that particular evening is as someone is announced on stage the other young people are clapping and supporting them.

‘It’s very similar too on the Thursday night for the adults Songs from the Musicals.’

The climax of the festival happens on the final Saturday evening (May 3) with the competition for the Cleveland Medal, donated annually by Ohio (USA) Manx Society, and competed for by the winners of six special solo classes held during festival week.

Prior to the Cleveland Medal test, the night sees the final of the Sheffield Plate, where the winners of nine junior classes compete for the prize.

Adjudicator on the final night is international mezzo soprano Maria Jagusz, who will treat the audience to a recital. (The following day – Sunday, May 4 – Maria will lead a vocal master class, 2-5pm in the Villa’s Promenade Suite.)

Tickets for The Guild are available from the Villa Marina box office. Each session is £3, or a season ticket (£30) allows entry to all sessions except the Thursday and Saturday nights. Tickets for Thursday night are £5 and Saturday evening £10.

Results from competitions will be posted on the festival’s website

The Manx Music Festival is affiliated to the British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech and receives support from the IoM Arts Council.

The festival, now in its 122nd year, originated from the Industrial and Commercial Guild that was held in Palace Coliseum and Derby Castle in the 1890s. Miss M. L. Wood promoted in 1892 a choir competition, which was the first of its type, and this led to the development of the Manx Music Festival. In recognition a Miss M. L. Scholarship is awarded each year during The Guild.

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