Eskdale Festival of the Arts 2023

By Mr Richardson

Thursday 9 March

Well, we could tell it was the time of the year for Eskdale Festival of the Arts to start once again….as it was snowing!  As usual, the weather was less than ideal for our first jaunt across the North Yorkshire Moors to attend the Festival at the Spa Pavilion Complex on Whitby’s West Cliff.  However, we duly set off bright and early and managed to arrive in plenty of time for the 9:30 start.

Aryana starts the gold rush

Aryana Javaherian (Year 7) was our first performer in the Piano Solo Class for students in Year 7 and under.  She gave a sparkling performance of Paul R Harvey’s Rumba Toccata and secured first place for our opening ‘Gold’.  Aryana went on to secure her second ‘1st place’ in the Piano Sonata Class for students in Year 9 and under, entertaining the audience with an intelligent rendition of the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in F minor.  Her performance was so well received that Aryana was immediately asked to play in the Gala Concert at the end of the Eskdale Festival of the Arts

Senior pianists and vocal

Our winning streak of 1st places continued with Sarah King (Year 10) in the Piano Solo Class for students in Year 11 and under.  Sarah delivered a charming rendition of Debussy’s Prelude from Suite Bergamasque.  This was closely followed by Sibelle Baza (Year 12), performing a lively opening movement from Freidrich Kuhlau’s Sonatina in AAll of our senior pianists were commended on their technical ability, attention to detail, connection with the music and overall musicianship.

The afternoon saw further successes with Blossom Harrison singing Shallow (Lady Gaga) in a closely contested Vocal Solo Class, against students two years her senior.  This was a difficult round to judge, featuring several different song styles (from classical repertoire to Beatles, pop and rock as well as film music).  Blossom should be extremely proud achieving 2nd place in this hard fought competition.  Heidi Maxwell (Year 13) wowed an attentive audience with her beautiful vocal recital, featuring an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a French song by Gabriel Fauré and a plaintive Song to the Seals by Granville Bantock.  Libby Robson (Year 10) rounded off our successes in the Vocal Solo and ‘Songs from the Shows’ classes for Year 11 and under.  Kurt Weill’s My Ship earning her a well deserved 1st and a 2nd place for Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Unexpected Song.

Overall, a fantastic opening day for the Scarborough College team!

Friday 10 March

An overnight flurry of snow resulted in a kind of ‘winter wonderland’ scene as we drove across the moors for day two.  At least the sun was shining…  Today saw five more ‘1sts’ for our senior music performers.

More success for College students

Sarah King opened the show in the Instrumental Recital class.  She presented two beautifully contrasting pieces for violin, Johan Svendsen’s Romance, followed by Hungarian Dance No. 5 by August Nölck.  Sibelle Baza also gained further success in the Piano Recital class with a romantic Mazurka in F minor by Anatoly Lyadov and the jazzy New Kid by Christopher Norton.  Hannah Kinsella (Year 9) showed great technical skill in the Instrumental Solo Class for Year 11 and under, playing the challenging Cantilena from Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano.  Evie McKechnie (Year 10) and Sienna Watts (Year 12) also gained first place in their respective Strings classes with the traditional folk song Portsmouth and the Intermezzo from Hary Janos Suite respectively.

At the end of day two, Sarah King was also asked to play at the Gala Concert to close the Festival.  A real honour…!

Monday 13 March

A rather wet and windy start to the day.  Fortunately, the rain abated for the journey to Whitby, though the wind was still fairly lively on West Cliff upon our arrival.  Emily Volkova (Year 5) featured in two piano classes today.  A well deserved first place in the Piano Recital Class for students in Year 6 and under, featuring contrasting pieces from Vitalij Neugasimov (Moody Gigue), Ailbhe McDonagh (Anastasia) and Alexander Grechaninov (Riding the Hobby-Horse).  The afternoon saw a creditable second place in the Piano Solo – Year 5 and under class. This was a well fought battle between a total of 15 young pianists.  Emily did herself, and the school, proud. Another successful day.

Tuesday 14 March

A bright and sunny morning greeted us for the appearance of our junior string and percussion players onto the Eskdale platform.  Kezia Jacobs (Year 6) featured in the final class of the morning – Strings Solo, Year 6 and under, playing Bamboo In The Breeze and attaining 1st place.

Young drumming talents lead the way

The afternoon session started with eight drummers, all Year 6 age and under.  In fact, our two Scarborough College girls, Aurelia Ibbott-Cook and Nancy Buxton-Tilley, are currently in Year 4, therefore competing against players two years their senior.  Both girls impressed the adjudicator, who awarded them 1st and 3rd places respectively.

Upon our return to school, the snow started to fall once again. It seems we might actually experience all four seasons in one week!  Tomorrow will see everyone in Years 1 to 6 make their way to Whitby to compete on the final day in choral and solo singing classes.  We hope to finish our Eskdale successes with another round of top three placings.

Wednesday 15 March
Choir success

The final day dawned with huge expectations on our junior performers.  The Infant Choir, featuring all children in Years 1 and 2 were up first, entertaining a packed Northern Lights Suite with Dance With Your Fingers and A Young Austrian.  They duly received very positive feedback from the adjudicator on their singing and actions.  The Prep School Choir (everyone in years 3 to 6) kicked off our competitive choral classes for the day with their choral recital – two contrasting songs – California Dreamin’, made famous in the 1960s by The Mamas and the Papas.  This was followed by a dip into the world of musical theatre with I Won’t Grow Up from Peter Pan.  Comments were made on our ability to sing in two part harmony (one of only two groups to even attempt harmony singing at a young age).  Our first ‘1st’ of the day.  The Chamber Choir showcased their skills in the Folk Song and Sacred Music categories, with Bwana Awabariki/Kumbaya (African folk song) and When I Sing respectively.  Once again, we were commended on our proficient harmony singing and awarded a further two ‘1st’s.

The soloists share in the spoils

The final afternoon session of the Festival saw several of our junior singers featuring in a solo capacity.  Nancy Buxton-Tilley (Year 4), Toby Hutchinson (Year 5), Molly Hill and Betsy Brewis (both Year 6) performed admirably in both Vocal Solo classes relative to their year groups as well as one combined “Songs from the Shows” class for all students in Year 6 and below.  All four singers should be extremely proud of their performances in what was an emotionally charged finale to the Festival.  We managed to rack up another 1st (Betsy in the Vocal Solo – Year 6 and under class) with her rendition of Naughty from Matilda (one of four versions across the two classes!), two ‘2nd’s for Molly Hill (Alone In The Universe [from Seussical the musical] in the Vocal Solo class and When I Grow Up [from Matilda] in “Songs from the Shows”) and a final ‘3rd’ for Nancy with her beautifully staged version of Naughty.

A great final day of competitive performance with five of our Scarborough College students being invited back by the Festival organisers to sing in the Gala Concert on Friday evening.  Scarborough College can be justifiably proud of their efforts and achievements in the Arts.  This is borne out in our award tally over the past week; of 24 classes entered, we came away with 19 1sts, 5 2nds and 2 3rds.

Closing awards

The following pupils were asked to return and perform at the closing Gala Concert: Nancy Buxton-Tilley (Year 4), Emily Volkova (Year 5), Toby Hutchinson (Year 5), Aryana Javaherian (Year 7) and Sarah King (Year 10).

The Whitby Rotary Club will sponsor the following students with bursaries: Young Pianist – Aryana Javaherian and Young Instrumentalist – Sarah King.

The Frances Quantrill Cup for Commitment went to Nancy Buxton-Tilley

The Solo Young Musician of the Year went to Emily Volkova

In addition, there is a large piece of glassware that is awarded for “Young Musician of the Year”.  The committee felt that this year the standard of choral singing from the primary schools was so high, they wanted to share the prize.  The vase is to be shared between Castleton School Choir Oakridge Primary School, Fyling Hall School and Scarborough College Prep School.  This will be ‘owned’ for several months in alphabetical order, so it has been agreed we will receive the vase some time around November.

A huge “BRAVO” to all!



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