Top marks for young performers

Hastings Musical Festival, White Rock Theatre, March 4 to 23.

Hastings Musical Festival’s three weeks’ coverage of almost every aspect of the arts ended in a blaze of colour giving its youthful performers memories to carry with them for all time.

After the impressive presentation of trophies, the comprehensive programme was (literally) a colourful reminder of how broad a spectrum this event embraces.

Guestling and Bradshaw’s School Choir’s version of Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band demonstrated how school music has moved on from the days of Nymphs and Shepherds. Oliver March’s violin solo of Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs showed dedication beyond his years.

The character dances of Millie-Rose White, Maisie Edwards and Ruby Hammond and Kendra Celangelo showed innovative choreography and skilful interpretation.

The speech and drama section was set off by the contrasting brothers Arran and Aneurin Goodman and followed by equally interesting performances from Isobel Richardson, Lydia Gilbert and Jack Counsell with Ross Hancock.

Sparking performances from Lacey Theatre Arts, Ami Piper and Lauren Gooch and from Maidsone the Hilton Hall Dance Academy closed Part One.

Part Two included delightful dance scenas by the Diana Freedman School, Erin Burt, Olive Hopkins and Taylor Lee and Ebony Winter.

Instrumental music came from the trumpet of Julian Moore and the guitar of Danny Holland. Vocal items were provided by Issie Iley, Mollie Tucker and Hiroshi Kanazawa. More speech and drama items including Shakespeare were by Theo Gregory, Joel Ballam, and Eden Myall.

The evening ended in a blaze of colour provided by Mary-Anne Pollock, the Rye Dance Centre and a stage-filling presentation by the Diana Freedman School’s Adult group.

The event was compered by Roland Garrad, with festival director Molly Townson expressing heartfelt thanks to the sponsors, adjudicators, and everyone concerned.

The festival was summed up by world-renowned pianist Peter Katin who said: “With the present very high level of performance in Hastings the competition has become truly international and I have no doubt it will stay that way.”

Review by Marrion Wells