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Performers invited to take part in 26th Newmarket Voice Festival

'There’s just an abundance of talent in this community and there’s not a lot of opportunity for people to perform and get valuable feedback,' says festival director; deadline to apply is Jan. 26
Charlotte Kolas sings at the Newmarket Voice Festival in 2023. File photo/Greg King for NewmarketToday

Each year, the Newmarket Voice Festival strives to bring Newmarket’s most talented to the stage to showcase their pipes.

This year the 26th annual festival will be held Feb. 20 to 24 at Old Town Hall with a Concert of the Stars taking place March 1. 

The event is open to all speech art performers ages five and up in the community with professional adjudicators providing written and verbal feedback to each participant.

The festival brings together both musicians and actors through various categories. This year’s categories for the festival include classical, musical theatre, popular voice, songs from the screen and more.

“It’s a wonderful chance to bring the talent we have in our community together,” said Irene Ilic, director of the festival. “We encourage everyone who likes to sing to participate. We even had a singer in her 80s win a scholarship last year, which was really neat.”

Each year dozens of scholarships are awarded as part of the festival — nearly $13,000 in scholarships were awarded in 2023 — and the adjudicators will also recommend singers and actors for the OMFA Provincial Finals in Oakville in June.

Giving artists in the community the opportunity to perform and compete on a big stage is crucial to their development, said Illic.

“Giving them a place to come to perform, whether they study music or not, gives them a chance to showcase their talents, perform original music, and play music from different cultures,” said Ilic. “There’s just an abundance of talent in this community and there’s not a lot of opportunity for people to perform and get valuable feedback.”

Last year was the first time the festival had been held since 2019 due to the pandemic and Ilic said it was very exciting to return to having live performances.

“We hope for even more people participating this year as we continue to rebuild,” she said.

A registered charity and non-profit event, the festival is run entirely by volunteers who have a passion for the arts and want to keep performing arts alive in the community.

“It’s wonderful for us, we love to prepare the event,” said Ilic. “For as much work as it is, the satisfaction is even greater when you see performers get inspired and motivated.”

The Concert of the Stars will be March 1 at Old Town Hall, 460 Botsford St., starting at 7:30 p.m. The deadline for entries is Jan. 26 and those wishing to apply can here.  

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Rob Paul

About the Author: Rob Paul

Rob Paul is a journalist with NewmarketToday. He has a passion for sports and community feature stories
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