April 13th, 2024

Service Above Self: Rotary Club of Medicine Hat Music Festival – No crystal ball, please!

By Medicine Hat Rotary Club on March 26, 2024.

Avani Gaekwad performs at a past Rotary Music Festival in Medicine Hat.--SUBMITTED PHOTO

Could the Rotary Music Festival really command two month’s worth of interest? Apparently so. By the time you read this column, more than 1,000 youth will have taken the stage to sing, recite, perform, play, and compose, working solo, in duets, trios, or ensembles. Some of them, like Kumiko Sakamoto, will go on to international performance careers and return to Medicine Hat to give back to the festival as an adjudicator.

Others, like Jillian Vaz, will use their experiences to gift their skills to their communities as adults. Jillian entered the festival at age three. Post high school graduation, she volunteered in a music therapy class for adults with special needs.

Says Vaz, “Participating in the Rotary Music Festival instilled a love of music and performance which has carried into adulthood. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with many talented musicians and teachers who helped me develop a ‘growth mindset’. I learned the value of hard work and perseverance; in addition, I realized that it is the process that matters, not the outcome.

“This has enabled me to develop a love of learning and resilience that has helped me in all aspects of my life. I still vividly recall all the fumbles and forgotten lines while on stage. This reinforced to me that it is OK to ‘fail forward;’ growth occurs along with making mistakes.”

Another performer thrust into the spotlight at an early age was Avani Gaekwad. By age nine she was already performing in Speech Arts, Musical Theatre and Contemporary Vocal.

At the 2022 Alberta Music Festival, she took first in Speech Arts and Musical Theatre. Then it was on to the Canada West Performing Arts Festival. Yes, she took the award for the “13 and under class” even though she was 10 years old.

Last year, she received a Provincial Recommendation for her “10 and under” Classical Vocal performance. This year? 2024? Our submission deadline precludes knowledge.

Many no doubt kept their eyes on a special set of young performers this year: The “first- and second-year” String entrants.

Do we want a crystal ball to see how the workshops and performances go? Nope! One of the joys of the Medicine Hat Rotary Music Festival is the element of surprise. Who dazzled the adjudicators and audiences this year?

This column was contributed by the Medicine Hat Rotary Club

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