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Stratford & East London Music Festival celebrates 141 years of amazing live performances

The Stratford & East London Music Festival (SELMF) continues to grow in popularity, as well as in the number of entries it attracts (nearly 600 in 2023) and the many different types of classes available.

SELMF was founded in 1882, making it the UK’s oldest competitive music and drama festival.

It has always played a large part in the musical history of East London from its early days as a local event in Stratford.

The festival culminates in the Young Musician Competition on the last Saturday (24 February for 2024), where ten young musicians are chosen to compete for the coveted and very prestigious Young Musician prize.

Matthew Taylor, chair of SELMF, says: “The standard of the Young Musicians concert is out of this world. You could easily be watching professional performances in the West End.”

In 2024, the festival will have classes for bands, orchestras and choirs on 5 and 6 February at St Mary’s Church in South Woodford, and 19-24 February for all other music, speech and drama classes. These will take place at the Redbridge Music Service, John Savage Centre, Fencepiece Road, Hainault, Ilford, IG6 2NB.

Entries for the 2024 festival will close on 29 December 2023. All entries can be made online. For more details, please visit


SELMF was founded in 1882 by John Spencer Curwen, making it the UK’s oldest music and drama festival - now in its 141st year! The entry fee for the first festival was 2s 6d (12 1/2p) for Solo Entries, 5s 0d (25p) for Quartets and 10s 0d (50p) for Choirs. Originally it was only open to those who lived in Stratford, Leyton, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Woodford, Plaistow, Forest Gate, Canning Town, Victoria Docks and Leytonstone. Now, musicians and actors come to the festival from the local area and beyond to perform and compete in a friendly and supportive environment.

Founded in 1882 and affiliated to The British and International Federation of Music Festivals. Registered Charity No. 208659.


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