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Music, drama festival kicks off Monday

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The 59th-annual Rainy River District Music and Drama Festival is set to kick off Monday, opening with the piano sessions at 9 a.m. at Knox United Church here.

John Jankiewicz, president of the festival association, admitted yesterday that “stomachs are growling a little bit” with nerves as Monday approaches.

“Adjudicators are all taken care of and we’ve got people opening all of our sessions from all major donors,” he noted.

“All the volunteers are going to be busy running around making sure the sessions are all run properly, making sure the adjudicators are happy, keeping the doors going [to the concerts], and all sorts of stuff.

“It’s easier once the festival gets going,” Jankiewicz added. “It’s the run-up to the festival that’s probably more nerve-wracking.”

The piano sessions will run through Thursday, when the band and instrumental portion of the festival begins its two-day stint at Fort Frances High School.

The vocal sessions begin Monday, April 12 at Knox United Church and run through until Thursday, April 15—the same day the drama section begins at Robert Moore School for choral readings and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for individual readings.

“We’ve got a fairly large contingent of high school students . . . appear at Robert Moore School on the opening day of drama,” Jankiewicz noted, saying they will be doing skits and choral reading.

“We haven’t had a contingent like this from the high school in years,” he added. “I’m looking forward to that.”

The festival’s annual highlights concert is slated Sunday, April 18 at 2 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church. That’s also when any Rose Bowl winners, and other award winners, are announced.

“[Rose Bowl contenders] have at least four categories,” Jankiewicz said, noting it varies a bit from section to section. “They have a sight study, a quick study, a solo piece, and at least one other number they’re involved with.”

Last year, two Rose Bowls were handed out—one to Heather Mihichuk (vocal) and another to Heather Keeler (instrumental).

“It would be nice to have somebody in piano because we haven’t somebody there in a couple of years,” Jankiewicz said. “We’ll see what the adjudicators think.”

Although there can be a fair amount of competition between students, especially for Rose Bowl contenders, Jankiewicz said the association doesn’t view winning your section or category as the main purpose of the festival.

“Enjoy yourself, have fun,” was his advice to this year’s participants. “It’s supposed to be an enjoyable occasion for the competitors.”

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