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District music festival undergoes facelift

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The president of the Rainy River District Music Festival Association is excited about the changes that have been made to the annual festival--and he’s hoping they evoke the same response with the public.

“Right now, between International Falls and Fort Frances, there are four dance studios,” noted John Jankiewicz. “This [coming] festival, all four dance studios will be taking part in the competitions in a big way.

“This is something very different for our festival and it is one of the biggest changes we have made,” he added.

Although dance has been a part of the festival since the 1950s, it’s only been in the last year that it has become a major part.

And as a result of this increased involvement of the dance studios, the association decided it was time to change the name of the festival to the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts.

“We felt that this change needed to be represented in the name of the festival,” Jankiewicz explained. “We had changed the name once to incorporate music and drama into the title but now with dance being a major part of the festival, we needed to include it into the name.

“We decided to call it the Festival of the Performing Arts so that we would be representing music, drama, and dance.”

But the association also has made other changes to the festival that Jankiewicz is hopeful people will take the time to learn about by reading the syllabus.

“Another big growth area for this coming year is in the string competition,” he noted. “Katherine Williams, the conductor of the community orchestra, has been bringing in children she has taught to participate in the string competition since 1998.

“[In April], we are going to be bringing in an adjudicator just for the strings competition alone,” he said.

With the official syllabus now available to the public, Jankiewicz urges those interested in competing in the festival to read through the rules carefully.

“We have changed our entry fees and revamped our admissions charges, too,” he said. “There have also been some changes made to the rules for the Quick Study, Piano, Voice, and Instrumental classes.”

The association also has hiked the festival camp scholarship from $100 to $150.

“This year we have included a scholarship application form in with the syllabus,” Jankiewicz noted. “Anyone who has ever gone on to these camps have come back with really good things to say.

“It is certainly a good thing for children to get involved with.”

Meanwhile, anyone interested in getting involved with the festival is welcome to attend the association’s next meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. downstairs in the Fort Frances Public Library.

“We are always looking for people to help us out in the organization of the festival,” Jankiewicz stressed.

Syllabuses are now available free of charge from Tammi’s Flower Garden, as well as the public libraries in Fort Frances, Emo, Rainy River, Atikokan, and International Falls.

For more information on the festival, contact Jankiewicz at 274-5494.

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