Wharfedale festival launches exciting programme

The Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts begins on tomorrow and its secretary Elizabeth Sharp is hoping "everyone will enjoy what we have to offer in what we believe to be a breathtakingly exciting programme".

It kicks off with junior vocal classes at Riddings Hall followed by two new Musical Theatre Classes with performers from Ilkley Upstagers youth theatre group and the Bradford Stage and Theatre School.

Also new on Saturday are the electric guitar classes in the afternoon and the electronic keyboard classes in the evening at All Saints Church.

Mrs Sharp said: "We once again break new ground in our endless quest for innovation. Alongside the new, we also have the constantly growing traditional classical guitar classes, harp, and organ recital and back after a few years absence, St Barnabas Church Choir from Huddersfield and their church music group."

At a meeting this week, Ilkley Parish councillor Dawn Emsley praised the organisers of the 103rd festival. She said: "It is truly amazing how much preparation work there is. It runs like clockwork every year and there will be many classes held during the week."

Preparations for the prestigious event which attracts performers from all over the area and beyond are well under way. Mrs Sharp said: "It is going all right and everything will be in place by Friday night." Mrs Sharp said that there was still room for volunteers to help with running the event, which takes place in many different venues in Ilkley. If anyone would like to help they should telephone Mrs Sharp on 07860 786149.

On Sunday, May 11, the Baptist Church will hold the special service of rededication, and on Monday the speech and drama classes will begin at the church and at the Riddings Hall.

These will include children from schools in the centre of Bradford some of whom have never visited Ilkley nor entered a Christian church before.

On Tuesday there will be a cabaret-style band night at the Craiglands Hotel on Cowpasture Road.

"We are looking forward to a truly international evening as we welcome three steel bands and the home-grown Ilkley Music Centre big band," said Mrs Sharp.

On Thursday primary schools get involved to present short concerts of their own rehearsed material. These include All Saints Primary of Ilkley, Ben Rhydding Primary, Menston Primary, the Boyle and Petit School from Beamsley.

The festival continues through the week and culminates on Saturday afternoon with choirs and vocal groups at the Craiglands Hotel.

The Festival's celebration concert will take place at 7pm on Wednesday, June 10, at Christchurch. Mrs Sharp said: "We hope that all performers who are invited to take part will be able to do so, as we hope to organise a sparkling event".

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