Saskatchewan Music Festival Association

Saskatchewan Music Festival Association. This association is a co-ordinating body founded in 1908 to promote the appreciation, performance, and study of music through competition festivals and concerts. Its first festival, a one-day event which drew 25 entries, was held at Regina in 1909.

Saskatchewan Music Festival Association

Saskatchewan Music Festival Association. This association is a co-ordinating body founded in 1908 to promote the appreciation, performance, and study of music through competition festivals and concerts. Its first festival, a one-day event which drew 25 entries, was held at Regina in 1909. Over the years the festival has expanded from 1909's single one-day event to 49 separate festivals attracting more than 20 000 entries from across the province.

Affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan, the SMFA opened its first office in Indian Head, moving to Saskatoon in 1912 and Regina in 1957. Early administrators were Fred Chisholm (1908-1912), Norman Palmer (1912-47) and Roy Aitkenhead (1947-57). Its affairs have been governed by a volunteer board of directors and administered by a salaried staff from its inception. Executive directors have included Gordon Hancock (1958-76), Kathleen Keple (1976-82), Doris Covey Lazecki (1982-2005) and Carol Donhauser (2005-). It receives funding from Saskatchewan Lotteries as part of the network assisted by the Saskatchewan Trust for Sport, Culture and Recreation, and Saskatchewan Culture, Multiculturalism and Recreation.

The continuing programs of the SMFA include the preparation of test music selections for and publication of the annual syllabus, and the hiring and co-ordination of 150 adjudicators. In its primary role as a central support group, the SMFA is responsible for co-ordinating the 49 local festivals, provincial finals and national playoffs, workshops, the concerto competition and the Canadian composer series (a series of non-competitive classes featuring the works of one Canadian composer, usually from Saskatchewan), and since 1987 the Artist-in-Residence Program with the Saskatchewan Choral Federation. The central office archives are also the association's responsibility. The SMFA has viewed its role as one of supporting and supplementing the existing music education network in Saskatchewan. Its publication, Festival Focus, is published jointly with the Saskatchewan Registered Music Teachers' Association Opus.

In 1955 the SMFA offered 8 awards and scholarships; in 2005 it offered 56, many established to honour Saskatchewan musicians. (Local festivals also have offered hundreds of awards.) Test pieces, chosen each year for the fall syllabus, have included pieces by Saskatchewan composers. In 2006 the syllabus featured over 1 000 classes, for school and community choirs, orchestras and bands, for solo voices, and for instruments.

In 1979 a concerto competition was inaugurated to honour the 71st anniversaries of the SMFA and the Regina Symphony Orchestra. First prize was a $1000 scholarship and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra in the upcoming season. The Gordon C. Wallis Memorial Opera Competition began in 2000 and alternates each year with the Concerto Competition in either Regina or Saskatoon. The association hosted the CIBC National Music Festival in 1984 and again in 1990.

In 2005, apart from a wartime suspension of activities 1915-19, the association's record of activity was unbroken.


Further Reading

  • "Proud record of 50 years' service," Regina Leader-Post, 8 May 1963

    Rodwell, Lloyd. "The Saskatchewan association of music festivals," Saskatchewan History, vol 16, Winter 1963

    Hancock, Gordon. "Music festivals play key role in training young," Regina Leader-Post, 25 Aug 1973

    Hancock, Mossie. Music for One, Music for All (Regina 1988)

    -Music for One, Music for All (Regina 2001)