Music, speech festival opens

Piano adjudicator Andrew Hisey with Grade 5 piano competitor Victor Liu, who performed on Monday.   - JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Piano adjudicator Andrew Hisey with Grade 5 piano competitor Victor Liu, who performed on Monday.

Hundreds of young musicians, vocalists and actors will be in Port Coquitlam over the next month as the 61st annual Coquitlam District Music Festival (CDMF) gets underway this week.

The competition at the Hyde Creek community church opened Monday with Andrew Hisey of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., adjudicating intermediate piano. Violinist Oleg Pokhanovski of the University of Manitoba will oversee the strings section while, next week, he will judge the junior piano entrants and Hisey will hear the senior pianists.

For the first week of March, soprano Joanne Hounsel, the former head of voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, will adjudicate classical voice and Toronto stage actor Kevin Powers is charged with musical theatre. And Vancouver actress Luisa Jojic will head up the speech arts section in the festival’s final week, starting March 11.

Strings and speech arts organizer Thelka Wright said the judges will pick a winner from each category to send to the provincial contest; this year, it is in Chilliwack from May 26 to 30.

Over the past six decades, many talented youth got their start by performing at CDMF, among them, Canada’s first Rockette Betty McHardy; actor Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future); crooner Michael Buble; concert pianist Jon Kumura Parker; and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City).

Wright said while the festival is competitive, it’s also designed to be educational. “The kids get just as much from the adjudicator as they do watching and learning from each other,” she said.

This year, Power will be hosting a musical theatre workshop at the church on March 9 for festival entrants. Students and especially drama teachers are welcome to listen in during the morning session.

And Wright said she invites the public to view the festival entrants at work. “It’s nice for them to have an audience. It really encourages them when they have to perform for a live crowd,” she said.

• The Coquitlam District Music Festival runs until the week of March 11 at the Hyde Creek community church (2145 Nova Scotia Ave., Port Coquitlam). Admission is free. For more information and times, call 604-468-2622 or visit www.cdmffestival.ca.



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