Twin Rivers Music Festival attracts record entries

Twin Rivers Music Festival President Doreen Benson with some of the trophies on display at the festival, which began last weekend and continues until Sunday, March 31

The Twin Rivers Music Festival (TRMF), currently underway in Dalmeny, has expanded to three venues to accommodate all the entries.

“We have 415 entries across all our disciplines,” said TRMF President Doreen Benson in an interview on Wednesday, March 27, “That’s a record for us. We’ve really grown this year.”

Benson said there are over 240 entries in the junior piano discipline alone. In senior piano there are nearly 100. Numbers are also up in the Speech Arts and Vocal (Musical Theatre) disciplines as well.

But the biggest growth is in the band category, where 12 school bands are showing their stuff in front of the province’s top adjudicators. The bands include schools from Martensville, Warman, Osler and one band made up of players from smaller schools across the Prairie Spirit School Division.

“Last year we had just a couple of bands, and this year we have a dozen,” said Benson. “We’ve gone from half a day to a day and a half to fit them all in. When you add up all the performers in all the bands, that’s 367 students taking part in this festival.”

Marcy Racicot, a band teacher at Valley Manor School in Martensville, said the festival is very well-run, and provides a great opportunity for students to not only perform on stage in a supportive environment, but also to listen to their peers from other schools.

“They get to see other kids playing in bands, and enjoying themselves,” said Racicot. “It’s a good experience for them.”

Racicot said the band program at Valley Manor, which includes students from Grades 5 through 8,  has grown since it was introduced a few years ago, and noted that Martensville High School now has a Grade 9 band as well.

The bands take up the better part of two days at the festival’s biggest venue, but it’s just one part of a week-long event. Altogether, there are over 800 performers taking the stage. The performances are taking place at the Dalmeny Bible Church, the Dalmeny Community Church, and the Dalmeny Seniors Heritage Centre.

Members of the Wright Family, whose three-piece ensemble is known as “hemidemisemiquaver” (a musical term for a 1/64th note) registers at the festival desk on March 27

“We have so many entries in the speech arts and musical theatre vocal disciplines that we opted to use the Heritage Centre on Thursday, March 28,” said Benson. “Otherwise we would have had to add an extra day to the festival, and it’s already five full days.”

Benson said the two churches have been “very gracious” about allowing the use of their facilities for the festival. She said the Bible Church has enough room to accommodate the school bands.

“The kids need separate rooms to store their instrument cases and books, and also to tune up and prepare for their performances,” said Benson. “This building is well-suited for that.”

She said the popularity of the festival owes much to the music teachers of the area, who see benefits for their students through participation.

“We have 15 piano teachers, five vocal teachers and seven band teachers that have encouraged their students to enter,” said Benson. “We are a member of the Saskatchewan Music Festivals Association, so the adjudicators come from across the province, and they’re very encouraging and helpful to the students.

“The adjudicators pick the recipients of the scholarships, and also choose those who will perform at the awards concert on the final day of the festival.”

The highlight of the event is the TRMF Awards Concert, slated for Sunday, March 31.

Benson said the festival committee relies heavily on volunteers to organize the event, and on sponsors to help cover the cost.

The TRMF executive includes: Benson, Vice-President Myra Zacharias, Secretary Marg Andres, Treasurer Diana Mark, Entry Secretary Val Redekop, Program Secretary and Webmaster Val Redekop, IT expert Bobby Mark, Fundraising and volunteer co-coordinator Pat Schultz, Volunteer coordinator Joan Krahn, Scholarships and Awards coordinators Sheri Kroeker and Myra Zacharias, and members at large Faith Friesen, Cecile Klein and Amanda Roberts.