79th New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music begins on Monday


Newspaper Photo April 17th

The 79th New Brunswick Competitive Festival

begins on Monday

The 79th year for the New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music begins Monday leading into a two-week celebration of local talent.

Founded in 1936 it was the only festival in the province for many years, which is why it is called the New Brunswick Festival, but over time others have sprung up.

This year fewer elementary school choirs will be taking part because of restrictions on bus travel, said festival administrator, Nadine Lane.  So the festival is taking choral adjudicator, Donna Rhodenizer to conduct workshops in the schools that can’t make it.

“Some of the schools they are going to would have taken part in the festival five years ago,” Lane said.  “Unless the school has a PALS program or a parent teachers association to fund the cost, or do fundraising, they are basically stuck.”

The competition for elementary and middle school choirs used to take a whole week of mornings, but now that part of the festival is down to two mornings and part of an afternoon, Lane said.

“The high school are still fine because for the most part we use Saint John High and those kids can get there on their own,” she said.

Because of the harsh winter and record number of cancelled classes due the snow days, there was talk that festival might not even be able to take place, she said.

But the school principals are supportive and view the competition as part of the music curriculum, so it is going ahead, she said.

A new feature this year is an expansion of the school band program which will take place at Harbour View High School on Wednesday morning the 22nd and Friday afternoon the 24th, she said.

Two important events are the April Mills Junior Star Concert on Saturday, April 25th at Portland United Church and the Founders’ Night Gala Concert at Saint John High School on Saturday, May 2 at 7 pm.

The first concert brings together the top competitors aged 14 and under in all categories.  Around 40 children are chosen by the adjudicators and then the top three will receive awards.

The concert at the end of the festival celebrates the intermediate and senior performers from age 15 up to university age.

“We are fortunate as a festival to have a considerable amount of trust fund investments that we are able to give away to students, to help with their university costs,” she said.

 The festival is bringing in 10 adjudicators, six for the first week and four for the second week.  Three are from New Brunswick, one from Nova Scotia and six from Ontario.

 A couple of the adjudicators are being shared with the Fredericton Music Festival to help defray costs because of them are not needed for a whole week, she said.

Advance tickets for the two concerts are available at he competition venues and Veronica’s Music Store.

The festival committee is already planning ahead for the 80th anniversary next year and hope to have the final gala concert at the Imperial Theatre.


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The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra played in Saint John Sunday for its only concert date of the season in the region.

For many of the musicians, playing in one’s own backyard is particularly rewarding.

Elizabeth Trecartin of Quispmasis is one of 15 musicians from the Saint John area.

“It’s a nice feeling to be home and to be able to play for your own community and to show them that there are people from their community who can play this music,”said the Grade 11 student at Kennebecasis Valley High School.

“It feels like an honour to me to be able to do that.” Continue reading

‘Music lady’ honoured for volunteer work

bettyby Carolyn Thompson

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
SAINT JOHN – Betty Angevine says when she’s out and about in Saint John, she still sometimes hears a child say, “Look – there’s the music lady.”
After more than 65 years being involved with the New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music, she says she sees herself that way, too.
Angevine was just presented the New Brunswick Volunteer of the Year award from the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals.
“I was absolutely honoured. I’m really thrilled,” the 73-year-old said, sitting at a table in the library of St. Mark’s United Church, where she has been running the piano portion of the festival for years.
“It’s a big job and volunteers are hard to come by and I know that I can count on Betty,” said Nadine Lane, the festival administrator who put Angevine’s name forward for the award.
Angevine first started playing piano at six years old. She would take the streetcar all by herself from Manawagonish Road to uptown, and then walked right down Germain Street. She said she can recall climbing the steep stairs up to her teacher’s studio.
“Oh my gosh, she was strict. She was so strict,” Angevine said. She used to practise for a half-hour each day and kept her nails trimmed short for every lesson.
Angevine said her mother, who was a violinist in the first New Brunswick Orchestra in Saint John, wanted her to take the piano lessons.
“I loved it from the beginning,” she said, adding that classical music always appealed to her. “I just love the sound of it. The softness.”
Angevine competed in the music festival from six years old until she was 17. She missed one year while she went away to study. When she returned, she began to volunteer at the festival.
At the time, it was a single-day event held at Saint John High School.
The volunteers used to make coffee in a small room at the back of the school. Angevine said they nicknamed it “festival mud.”
“It just never worked out the way it was supposed to,” she said with a laugh. “And it was potent as bejeebers.”
She used to run the number board, where children could see when they were to go on. As the festival grew, Angevine took on greater roles, eventually joining the executive and becoming the administrator.
“After that I just ran the place, didn’t I?” she said to Lane with a laugh.
Angevine has volunteered with the festival for more than 55 years, and been a part of it for more than 65. She’s seen it progress from a single day event in one location to a two-week, seven-venue event. She’s helped numerous children through nerves and poor performances, and greeted them when they came back from studies or time away.
“Your heart just aches for them,” she said. “I’ve had kids walk off the stage crying, I’ve had kids bang the door.” She said, adding she’s also had to deal with upset parents after performances.
Over the years, she said she’s learned what it takes for a child to do well: practice.
“Practice, practice, practice,” she said. Her strict music teacher taught her to keep time so well that Angevine said she can always tell if a performance is speeding up or lagging behind.
Angevine herself has not been too much of a performer – she taught piano for 14 years after she was married, and then gave Royal Conservatory of Music exams from her home.
But she said she gets nervous performing in front of people, just like some of the children she has worked with at the festival.
She said the event has helped bring out many talented Saint John musicians.
“We’ve had good, good musicians basically because of this festival,” she said. Many leave to pursue their studies or music careers.
“When they come back, and they say, ‘Oh, hey music lady,’ it gives me a thrill,” she said.
The New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music will be held next year from April 22 to May 4.