Imagine an arts festival where the judges give the artists a second chance to get it right and there are no winners or losers.
That’s the tradition of the Arts in the High Country Festival, a four-day celebration of the performing arts in the Kamloops-Thompson School District.
District fine arts co-ordinator Lori Jane Froese said 77 elementary and secondary school ensembles are scheduled to perform at the Sagebrush Theatre from March 11 to 14.
“It’s not a competition between the ensembles, but the ensembles all get feedback from an adjudicator,” said Froese. “They’ll tell them things they are doing really great, we’ll give them suggestions that will help make their ensemble better.”
By giving feedback in this way, the students are encouraged to learn and improve without the pressure of competition, she said.
“It’s really a celebration of each other,” said Froese. “There’s no first place or second place.”
This year’s judges include Froese, music instructor and trombonist Gordon Waters, school district assistant superintendent John Churchley, and choral conductor Noralee Quast.
Churchley, who was principal at Beattie School of the Arts for a time, said the festival is an opportunity for him to get out of the school board office and get back to what he loves doing — teaching music to students.
“It’s fun,” he said.
He will judge the performances of elementary and junior bands. Churchley said his input is provided about a week before the final performance, so the musicians have time to tweak their work.
Most festival judges give input during the final performance when it’s too late for the comments to make a difference, he said.
“It’s kind of a neat model actually,” he said.
All performances are open to the public and admission is by donation. The money goes toward music programs in the school district, said Froese.
For more information, visit sd73.bc.ca.