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Chairperson's Blog: What exactly is the Stratford & East London Music Festival?

For anyone who is not sure what the Stratford & East London Music Festival is, I can tell you it's the oldest competitive music and drama festival in the country. The first festival was held in 1882.

You won't be surprised to hear it started in Stratford, East London, and it has extended its catchment area for entrants far and wide.

The festival is run by volunteers but employs professional adjudicators who assess and comment on every performance, and judge who is the winner of each class.

From choirs, solo and ensemble singing, and speech and drama to piano, percussion, strings, woodwind and brass, concerto and composing, we have classes that allow you to showcase your talents and compare them to others.

Our festival is open to all ages and abilities. Our aim to to support live and public performance for everyone.

The 2023 festival will take place on 6 and 7 February 2023 at St Mary’s Church in South Woodford for choirs, orchestras and bands; all music, speech and drama classes will take place 13 - 18 February at our new venue, Redbridge Music Service, in Hainault.

[As you can imagine, Redbridge Music Service has excellent facilities with the added benefit of a car park, easy access to the London Underground (Fairlop on the Central Line) plus it's also outside the ULEZ area].

We offer certificates for all entrants, cups for almost all class winners, cash prizes for the best of the best and ABRSM has sponsored book tokens for our graded piano classes. The best pianist can win the prestigious Felix Marr Award with a prize of £500.

Our festival finale is on Saturday 18 February, when the best young musicians and singers from the week's festival compete to be our Young Musician of the Year. First prize includes an award of £100. The event is introduced by the best speakers and actors, and will be attended by the Mayor of Redbridge.

This year, our syllabus is entirely online and we have a new online entry process. If you need help with either of these, please get in touch.

Deadline for entries to the 2023 festival is 30 December 2022.

If you would like to enter, please do. If you know someone who might like to enter, please tell them to. If you know a music or drama teacher who might like to tell their pupils to enter, please tell them.

Please share this post and our website and social posts with your network. Please spread the word. Like many, we are still recovering from the pandemic. We need help to promote the festival.

Finally, for those of you who won cups last year can you please return them to us by 20 December 2022. Click here for details of engravers and where to return cups.

Matthew Taylor


Stratford & East London Music Festival


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