Three weeks packed with music, dance and drama

Petula Clark CBE
Petula Clark CBE

CELEBRATING talent from the town and beyond the Hastings Musical Festival returns this month for three weeks of music, dance and drama.

Running from March 4 to 23 at the White Rock Theatre, there will be competitive classes in singing, dancing, drama and instrumental music, involving more than 2,000 performers, aged from three to 36.

The jewel in the crown of the festival is the International Piano Concerto Competition, which will see some of the world’s top young pianists compete for the £4,000 prize and a chance to play with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

Throughout, professionals will be on hand to adjudicate and encourage participants.

Week one of the festival programme will see the theatre packed for the Primary Schools Music Making, which is supported by local Lions Clubs.

The winning school will be invited to perform again in the festival finale on Saturday, March 23.

Also in week one of the newest sections, street dance, will take to the stage, along with other forms of dance, brass, strings, and junior and senior singing.

In week two the show song classes and speech and drama classes will take place in the Sussex Hall, while in the main auditorium ‘Piano Week’ will see 44 young pianists compete to become one of the three to play with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in the final on Saturday, March 16.

Festival president Petula Clark CBE will be attending the final of the International Piano Concerto Competition.

Running throughout the week will be junior and senior piano classes, a baby grand piano coming to Priory Meadow, screenings at Electric Palace Cinema, and a workshop at the Jerwood Gallery.

Festival chairman Molly Townson said: “Of great popular interest will be the semi-final of six pianists on Thursday, March 14 at 4pm and the piano masterclass at Fairlight Hall on Friday, March 15 at 7pm.

“Young people under 16 are invited free to any sessions of Piano Week if accompanied by a paying adult.”

Week three features more dancing, woodwind, and singing, along with two days of rock and pop music, with Vocal Pops on Thursday, March 21, and Rockfest on Wednesday, March 20, when rock bands will be judged by an impressive line-up of famous names including Paul Roberts of the Stranglers, singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding,and rock critic Ben Thompson.

This event is supported by Bonners of Eastbourne and the Hastings Round Table.The festival finale will take place on Saturday, March 23.

For tickets for the festival visit www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk or call 01424 462288. For further information about the three-week event visit www.hastingsconcertocompetition.co.uk or www.hastingsmusicalfestival.co.uk.