The Grand Opening Concert of the 43rd Harrogate International Youth Festival showcased the variety of performance and depth of talent that has typified the Festival over the years.
- Royal Hall Harrogate – Saturday 26th March
Appropriately the first group to perform was the Harrogate High Jazz Band, Harrogate High School being the only school to have been represented at every Festival in its 43 years. Playing a number of popular jazz numbers Harrogate High got the evening off to an upbeat mood.
Another local group who have performed in many Festival concerts was the St Aelred’s Irish Dancers.
Resplendent in their colourful costumes St Aelred’s filled the stage with their reels and jigs. Kenya has sent groups to the Festival for a number of years and this year was no exception with the arrival of the Naisula Choir. Naisula is based in the suburbs of Nairobi and their first song, written in the aftermath of the violence that followed the 2007 elections.
With the theme of unity and music bringing people together it summed up what the Festival is all about. Another local group, the Katrina Hughes School of Dance and Performing Arts, who brought the first half to a colourful and exciting finish as well as opening the second half in an equally impressive manner.
The Harrogate High School Choir epitomised the theme of making music together having been augmented by a number of guest singers. The Schaumberger Jugendchor was making a return visit having attended the Festival in 2011.
Resplendent in traditional costume the choir offered a mixture of sacred and popular music finishing with Der fröhliche Wanderer (The Happy Wanderer) which has its origins in Schaumburg. Making their debut at the Festival the Blackburn with Darwen Big Band brought the concert to a rousing finish with their selection of funk and swing numbers. All in all a great start to the Festival.
Mike Newby, Visit Harrogate