Kiwanis Music Festival on to something with changes

Kiwanis Music Festival on to something with changes

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Back in January, after celebrating its 50th anniversary last year, the Kingston Kiwanis Music Festival announced it would be making a number of changes.

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One of those changes was to start a month later so that winter weather wouldn’t affect participation.

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Another was to update the syllabus: adult classes for all voice and instrumental disciplines were to be added and, while the classical repertoire would continue, there would now be additional classes for contemporary and popular music.

A strategic review of the festival found that it should “seek wider engagement within our community,” specifically local school boards and other local music organizations.

If participation in the 2024 is any indication, the festival is on to something: there were 38 per cent more registrations — from 343 to 474 — this year than last.

To accommodate the drastic increase, the festival took place in 10 different locations around the city in the past three weeks, and will finish at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts Tuesday evening with its annual “Highlights Concert” featuring this year’s award winners.

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The concert runs from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be hosted by Mark Sirett, the founder of Cantabile Choirs of Kingston and a member of the Order of Canada. Admission is by donation.

While the festival saw a jump in the number of participants, it’s also who those participants were that reflected  their goal of community outreach.

For example, the festival participated in a joint initiative with Orchestra Kingston and Queen’s University. The result was the new “concerto competition,” involving strings and piano, that took place at Harrison-LeCaine Hall on the Queen’s University campus earlier this month.

As well, this year a festival adjudicator visited the junior choirs organized by Sistema Kingston, which provides after-school music programs to students who may not have the opportunity to do so otherwise, at Molly Brant Public School and St. Thomas More Catholic School. It’s hoped Sistema will fully participate in the coming years.

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And the festival has also connected with St. Lawrence Place. Some of its residents will be attending Tuesday’s concert and will welcome performers into the downtown retirement home in June.

The Kingston Kiwanis Music Festival’s “Highlights Concert” takes place inside the performance hall of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, April 30, from 7 to 9 p.m.

The Kingston Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 2023-24 season Sunday afternoon with its now-annual composer festival. This year, it’s Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and the orchestra will be performing his second and fourth symphonies. The concert, which starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, is already sold out.

April is jazz appreciation month, and there will be plenty of opportunities to appreciate it before May 1 rolls around. Not only that, but the performances are free thanks to the Music Performance Trust Fund.

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It starts Thursday with a 7 p.m. performance by the Dan Douglas Quintet at BluMartini.

On Friday, the 20th Century Jazz Band will be back in Monte’s — there was an impressive crowd when they played there a few weeks ago — from 7 to 9 p.m. Inner Harbour, meanwhile, will be performing at Miss Bao, 286 Princess St., from 8 to 10 p.m.

Sunday will be a particularly busy day. Running from 1 p.m. until 11 at BluMartini, you can see performances by Ducks on Ice, Smooth Jazz Syndicate, Myers Jazz Quintet, Inner Harbour, Spencer Evans Trio, Dave Barton Trio, Chantal Thompson, ChetGPT and Michael Broadhead.

That same afternoon, over at the Spire, it will be the Howard Lopez Music Group performing at 2.

Jazz appreciation month wraps up Monday with Inner Harbour performing at the RCHA Club at 7 p.m.

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Remember, all of these shows are free.

While the RCHA Club will host jazz Monday night, Friday night belongs to the blues. That’s when the Memphis-born Ghost Town Blues Band will be performing.

Tickets for that show, which starts at 8 p.m., are $30 apiece. Tickets are available at the club or through the Kingston Blues Society.

Saturday night, meanwhile, it’ll be the always-popular Big Phat Horn Band performing its monthly show.

There are some other interesting concerts happening this week.

At the Broom Factory, it’ll be Montreal’s Land of Talk performing an all-ages show Thursday. It starts at 7:30 p.m. with opener Hua Li. Friday evening sees Teenage Kicks — the other band of Glorious Sons bassist Peter van Helvoort — perform along with local openers the Astros and Forty-Seven Teeth. It, too, is an all-ages show and starts at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $15.

At the Grand Theatre, you can see the Stampeders perform on Monday evening and then Marc Jordan and Amy Sky Wednesday evening. Tickets for the Stampeders show are $79.50 plus HST and handling fee, while ones for Jordan and Sky are $63.27-plus. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m.

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Kiwanis Music Festival
Adjudicator Amanda Brunk talks with the Sistema Choir at Molly Brant Public School after its performance at the 2024 Kiwanis Music Festival. This year, the adjudicator was brought to the choirs to solve a transportation problem for the Sistema after-school music program. Photo by Joe Tessier

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