Expectations were higher than ever for this; the 40th anniversary of the country’s longest running Youth Music Festival.
Now the curtain has fallen on the event’s milestone year, it is clear that it did not disappoint; audience members, performers and friends of the festival are united in their opinion that the 2013 Harrogate International Youth Festival (Music and Performing Arts) was a stunning representation of why we need to nurture young talent and encourage performers to seek out opportunities like this one. The fact that Harrogate plays home to this exemplar of arts events, is something of which we can be truly proud.
Since its inception, this event has welcomed more than 36,600 performers to our local and regional venues. These young people have come from 39 countries and many have returned to the Festival time and again.
Full-house audiences were wowed at some of the town and surrounding district’s finest venues and the addition of even more community concerts was welcomed by increased audiences for 2013.
The anniversary event kicked off with another excellently attended Easter Parade. It seemed more than a little fortuitous that the previous week’s terrible snowy weather had finally given way to Spring, leaving organisers and performers able to put on an incredible march for the waiting crowds.
With diverse groups coming from as far as Spain, Canada, Africa, Egypt and Switzerland, the international contingent for 2013 was as strong as ever and there was an incredible turnout from local schools, bands and dance troupes, including the first ever Primary Sing group.
The event closed with the most successful and cohesive massed band performance in the event’s history and the Grand Finale – a rousing rendition of Pomp and Circumstance by Elgar – was a highlight for all.
As performers leave and head home there are already wheels in motion for HIYF 2014 and the efforts to bring a Rwandan choir over who were not able to raise the funds themselves are underway. Africa New Life Children’s choir is made up of children from three communities in Rwanda. Each of the children involved has a story to tell; some have lost one or both parents, others come from very poor families where finding enough food to eat has been a daily struggle. All of the members of the choir are now sponsored through Africa New Life Ministries in partnership with organisations in the USA and UK including Rwandachild; the directors of which are Harrogate born Cat and Siy Ross who now live and work in Rwanda.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Harrogate were among many to share their delight at being part of the Anniversary Festival. The Mayoress said taking part in the Easter Parade had been ‘the highlight of her year’ as it was something so enjoyable and different.
This landmark event has further cemented its position on the local cultural calendar and organisers are confident that the Festival will have no trouble in meeting its next milestones. The 40th Anniversary of the Harrogate International Youth Festival (Music and Performing Arts) was one to remember.