Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama completes virtual event

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The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama has completed a week of virtual classes, adapted to the changing needs of the Covid pandemic.

While the festival went ahead, plans to celebrate their centenary have been postponed until 2022, when the festival will once again take place live at the Bedford Corn Exchange.

This year, for the first time ever, performers have entered via recorded videos.

Even with a slimmed-down programme, 600 performers uploaded entries. Adjudicators will now sit through 1,800 minutes of video footage, to award places in each class.

Secure zoom sessions have taken place each evening with performers being invited along to hear feedback and results from the adjudicators.

With children returning to school this week, many have practised at home guided by their teachers online. Organisers say the festival is a celebration of all their hard work and dedication.

“We are very pleased to have been able to offer an online alternative to the live Festival this year,” said Julia Smith, festival chair.

“We were blown away by the number of entries received which is proof that there is definitely an appetite for performance opportunities despite the challenges we are all facing right now.

“The festival celebrates its 100th birthday this year and although we have postponed the celebrations to 2022, we think this first-ever online Bedfordshire Festival is the perfect way to move the festival into its next century.”

Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama would normally take place at Bedford Corn Exchange.
Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama would normally take place at Bedford Corn Exchange.

The festival, one of the largest and longest-standing in the country is a charity and entirely self-funded, it is run by a committee of volunteers and a part-time secretary.

Usually, during the festival week in March, the committee and a further group of over 50 dedicated volunteer stewards take over the Bedford Corn Exchange to manage the huge numbers of performers, teachers, parents and local audience members.

The festival has received the ‘The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’ which recognises how the festival, thanks to the amazing input of its volunteers over the years, has evolved and remains relevant to the needs of the Bedfordshire community today.

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