In 2007 my wife decided to boldly go (oh, all right - she decided to go boldly) where no woman has gone before! After years of contemplation she finally embarked on setting up an educative music festival for Maidstone, the county town of Kent. Excited at the prospect I pledged Sue my support for this. A committee was set up, with Sue as chairman. I am the secretary.
Preparations for our new music festival for Maidstone are now hotting up. Last year we registered the name Maidstone Music Festival with the umbrella body for festivals of the performing arts in the UK and beyond, the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech .
We set up a bank account in this name, and also a website: www.maidstonemusicfestival.org.uk. The website is under development but, for now, it offers basic information including contact details.
Then, in November, with still just over a year to go until the inaugural festival, we started publicising the festival by writing to many music teachers in the Maidstone and Medway area. It is through music teachers that we hope to attract the majority of participants. This drew some keen interest, as expected, and some of those teachers are now 'on board' as volunteers.
Throughout the weekend festival five categories of music classes will run simultaneously in halls and rooms within the venue. These will be: Piano; Keyboards (electronic keyboards); Strings (excluding guitar); Wind (woodwind and brass); Voice (vocal and choral).
Here is Sue's initial November 2007 announcement:
Introducing Maidstone Music Festival 2008
I am writing to you to tell you about an exciting development in music-making in Maidstone.
I have taught piano in Maidstone for many years and I have always thought it ridiculous that the county town of Kent is one of the few large towns lacking its own educative festival for amateur musicians. Many other music teachers, I know, feel the same way. It is for this reason that I decided to organise one myself.
Preparations are well under way. I have booked the venue and secured the services of some highly regarded adjudicators. The syllabus is already drawn up.
This festival will be totally different from anything already occurring in Maidstone in that it will provide opportunities for amateur musicians of all ages and levels of ability to perform individually to an audience and to receive educative adjudication from highly qualified musicians. All entrants will be awarded a certificate, classified according to merit, and a personal written adjudication on their performance.
The element of competition will be kept to a minimum in order to encourage performers to learn from one another. Thus the festival will provide a friendly and supportive platform for musicians to share in the excitement of making music. Maidstone Music Festival, a non-profit organisation, aims to promote a prestigious annual event which gives pleasure and real value to performers and listeners alike.
The pioneering Maidstone Music Festival 2008 will be held at Invicta Grammar School on the weekend of 29/30 November, 2008, with a concert on the evening of Saturday 6 December. I ask you to note these dates, and I hope you will wish to encourage your pupils to participate in the festival. The syllabus will be available in June 2008.
Since making this original announcement, however, we were asked to make some changes in order to help prevent any confusion with other local music initiatives, in particular with the 'Maidstone International Festival of Music and Dance' which has been held annually, in the summer, for 15 years. While maintaining our official name of 'Maidstone Music Festival' we decided on an eye-catching logo which, for the first festival, states simply 'mmf 08'. This is supplemented with the explanatory words 'Maidstone's new festival of adjudicated musical performances', thus making a clear distinction between our educative festival and the other town festival which is essentially a month-long programme of varied performance entertainment in several locations.