Local students excelled at MusicFest Canada last week, North America’s largest music festival.
Students from three schools in School District 69 (Qualicum) attended the invitation-only event, earning their way there through a gold level performance at a regional festival.
“All three schools performed extremely well at this event,” said Dave Stewart, music teacher at Oceanside Middle School and Kwalikum Secondary School by e-mail.
With roots going back to 1972, the national festival is held in a different city each year and was in Richmond May 16 to 20 this year.
It brings together over 10,000 of the country’s best music students under 25 to help develop their musical talents and “share their musical achievements and creativity,” according to the website.
Local students traveled to Richmond this year from Ballenas Secondary School, under the direction of Rick Robson, Kwalikum Secondary, directed by Dan Craven and Dave Stewart, and Springwood Middle School with Donna Rathke.
The Ballenas Concert Band, Junior Jazz Band and Senior Jazz Band were each awarded a silver standing.
The Springwood Grade 7/8 Concert Band earned gold.
Kwalikum Secondary’s Senior Jazz Band and Senior Jazz Combo both earned gold for their performances and the Grade 10 Jazz Combo received silver.
Two Kwalikum students also passed auditions to earn coveted seats in Canada’s most elite student Honour Bands. Ben Dwyer, on alto saxophone, earned a spot on the Yamaha All Star Jazz Band and Joylea Carson Austin, on baritone sax, with the National Concert Band.
Both students had great experiences performing with other high calibre students from across Canada, Stewart said.
Ben Dwyer and Liz Roy also received significant scholarships from Humber College for their outstanding performances, a high honour only achieved by a couple dozen out of the 10,000 participants.
“All our students enjoyed the experiences from MusicFest, really appreciated the excellent clinics, workshops and concerts of world class calibre,” Stewart summarized.