The Woodley Festival of Music and Arts returns this weekend
Over the past fifty-two years, the Woodley Festival annual event has provided a platform for young people to develop their talents in a supportive and encouraging environment. It also provides an opportunity for performers to gain valuable experience and receive feedback from professional adjudicators.
Entry to the Festival normally opens in October for Choral, and November for all other classes and closes in mid-January. Following the deadline of entries into the Festival, the Festival Committee is delighted to see many new and returnee entrants for the 2023 edition.
Classes and concert
This year, the Woodley Festival will see a variety of Choral, Instrumental, Pianoforte, Vocal and Speech & Drama classes over three weekends in March, and the Woodley Festival 2023 will end with a Gala Finale Concert in which the talented performers will have the honour of being invited to perform.
The well-supported Choral classes are always very popular with the audience as the ensemble group find their voices. Open classes for amateur adult performers are also well attended. Parents, relatives, and friends of entrants as well as the general public are invited to attend to provide support and to be entertained.
The Choral classes will take place at Emmbrook School in Wokingham. The Instrumental, Pianoforte, Vocal, Speech & Drama classes will take place at the Oakwood Centre in Woodley. The Choral Verse classes and Gala Finale Concert on 26 March 2023 will take place in the new Michael Malnick Centre within the beautiful grounds of Leighton Park School.
One of the main benefits of the Festival is the chance the entrants get to perform to a small, friendly audience. This serves to boost self-esteem and confidence in young children. Madelaine Fisher was one child that benefitted hugely from her participation in the Festival. Maddie, who suffers from dyslexia, struggled with reading, working memory and processing skills and lacked confidence. Her early efforts in Verse and Prose classes provoked some very positive remarks from the adjudicator and Maddie was sufficiently encouraged to return each year for the next 6 years. She won many Gold and Silver medals in the Speech and Drama section. Maddie’s mother Fiona said: “Undoubtedly Woodley Festival has boosted Maddie’s confidence in public, helping to build her character and assisted in overcoming her inherent difficulties.”
The Festival also provides important performance practice for musicians, many of whom have gone on to success on a bigger stage. Reading oboist Ewan Millar winner of the Woodwind Category Final in the 2020 version of BBC Young Musician competition, took part in the instrumental section at Woodley from a very young age.
Woodley Festival has been very fortunate to have a sponsor for the past 18 years. Local business woman Ann Manning, Managing Director of ManningUK Insurance Brokers was once described as a “fairy godmother” at an opening of the Festival. In 2005, Ann was asked by a friend to help on the entrance door as the Festival was short of helpers. She came along and during her day sat in on a Speech and Drama class and was in awe of the amazing talent of those that enter both young and not so young! Upon hearing that the Festival was in danger of closure due to lack of funding Ann had no hesitation in stepping in to enable the Festival to not only continue but also to grow. Ann is passionate about the Festival and sees it as a platform for children and young adults to thrive. She describes Woodley Festival as unique. The quality and standard is very high across all sections and she has felt privileged to watch the children grow, for example seeing a frightened and scared Year 1 pupil grow into a mature and confident Adult performing in a Year 13 class.
ManningUK continues to be involved with the Festival and looks forward to welcoming new and returning entrants and audience members to the 2023 Woodley Festival.
Find out more
Please visit https://woodleyfestival.org.uk for the dates and timetable of the classes and how to purchase tickets.