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2023 Festival Report by Stella Redburn

I am delighted to report that we had another very successful music festival this year. It was wonderful to get back to a live festival this year; even though we were proud of our online festival during Covid, it felt much better to be meeting in person.

We were able to secure the Redbridge Music Service (RMS) for the festival. “Old hands” will remember that we used to run the festival from there, before we went to Forest School. Many thanks to RMS director, Simon Roberts, for facilitating our move and welcoming us back. The venue suits us perfectly and many people told us they were glad to be back there.

Our Choirs, Bands & Orchestras classes were still held at St Mary’s in South Woodford, but RMS hosted our Piano, Speech & Drama, Solo & Ensemble Singing, Instrumental, Concerto, Confinemento and Millennium classes and, of course, the Young Musicians Grand Finale Competition.

The Felix Marr Piano Award was won this year by Keke Hu, the Concerto Class prize was won by Gabriella Bavetta and the Leila Grisley Singing Award was won by Andrew Bennett. The Young Musician of the Year prize was this year awarded to Finn Anderson-Hendra. Congratulations to all these hugely talented performers! You can find a full list of the 2023 winners here.

As ever, the standard displayed throughout the festival was extremely high. Every class was enjoyable to listen to and I know some of our Friends of the Festival, who have free entry to all the classes, did come and support us. We are trying to build up our festival community by increasing the number of our Friends of the Festival. It is only £10 to join and your membership supports the festival in many ways. NB You will soon be able to join online!

We have many prizes on offer at the festival. This includes an enormous number of cups and trophies to be won, medals, some cash prizes, and also eligibility to further competitions. We also hope to add online sponsorship and donations to our website this year. A big thank you to this year's sponsors.

We emerged from lockdown with a much depleted volunteer work force, due to retirement, illness and people moving away. However, we appealed for help and several people stepped forward - but we always have room for extra helpers. Indeed the festival is entirely run by volunteers and we need a steady supply of you! Please contact us if you are interested in helping out in any capacity.

This year, in addition to a new venue, we launched a new online entry platform and revamped our website. We also ramped up our social media presence, and we now have channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you're not following us yet, please do. It helps us spread the word about our wonderful festival.

[Although we are extremely proud of our history - the festival dates back to 1882 - we realise we cannot run the festival in the same way as the Victorians did!]

We pride ourselves on a friendly atmosphere at the festival and many people comment on how they find our classes welcoming and encouraging. We are all proud to be part of the wonderful organisation that is the Stratford & East London Music Festival and we look forward to welcoming you next February to the 2024 festival.

Stella Redburn

Festival Secretary


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