Groups practice all year to take the stage at the Cowichan Music Festival. (Citizen file)

Groups practice all year to take the stage at the Cowichan Music Festival. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Music Festival begins

Performances run until March 2

The annual Cowichan Music Festival has begun and will run until March 2.

The festival, which began as a project of the Parent-Teacher Auxiliary in 1949, is celebrating it’s 71st anniversary this year.

Parents, teachers, principals, music and performing arts teachers in the Cowichan Valley have enthusiastically supported the dancing, music and theatre events the festival offers from its beginnings in order to encourage students to reach for a higher standard of learning in their chosen fields.

Karolyn Sherman, the festival’s vice president, said the performances in this year’s festival will be held at the Duncan United Church and the Cowichan Community Centre.

The times and dates of the performances are available on the Cowichan Music Festival’s website, and posters will be placed in public places around the community.

“We had to drop the piano section this year because we didn’t have enough entries,” Sherman said.

Sherman said there is a considerable amount of talent in the Valley, largely due to good teachers and the students’ desire to learn and practice.

“You just have to have seen Mama Mia! [recently performed by the Cowichan Music Society] to see the talent we have here,” she said.

The festival is affiliated with Performing Arts B.C. and the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals, which allows the award winning students to advance to a higher level of competition.

“Some of the contestants may move on to the provincials, that will be held in Cranbrook this spring, if they are recommended by the adjudicator, and some may even go on to the nationals after that. There are quite a number of performers that have participated in the Cowichan Music Festival that are now quite well known.”

The Cowichan Music Festival began with 50 entries 71 years ago, and with the addition of musical theatre and bands, there were approximately 900 entries last year.

The number of entries at this year’s festival are still being counted.

The festival is organized and run by an executive committee with help from a large group of volunteers.

It has no outside funding and is dependent on entry fees and performance attendance to pay for adjudication costs, theatre costs and rentals.

The cost to attend a performance at Duncan United Church is $2, and $3 at the Cowichan Community Centre.

A season’s pass is $25.

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