Alberta Music Festival Association

Alberta Music Festival Association. Umbrella organization formed ca 1964 to represent and co-ordinate the competition festivals of the province of Alberta.

Alberta Music Festival Association

Alberta Music Festival Association. Umbrella organization formed ca 1964 to represent and co-ordinate the competition festivals of the province of Alberta. It was established through the initiative of a committee comprising Florence Musselwhite of Calgary, Alan Walker of Drumheller, Ken Crockett and Cora Molstad of Edmonton, and Seyward Smith of Lethbridge. Its initial funding was provided by the government of Alberta, which, through its Cultural Development Branch, continued to assist both the competition festivals in individual cities and towns and the provincial association.

The first competition festival in Canada and, it is said, in North America, was held in Edmonton in 1908. Acting in response to the wish of the Governor General, Earl Grey, to see provincial festivals established in Canada, Howard Stutchbury, Vernon Barford, and Jackson Hanby of Edmonton drew up a syllabus and organized the Alberta Music Festival. That first festival, 5 May 1908, drew 30 entries, and a Mr Matthews and Rhys Thomas of Winnipeg were adjudicators. The festival was held annually in Edmonton until 1917, with participants converging there from all parts of the province. In 1918 Calgary, Lethbridge, and Edmonton agreed to follow a common syllabus, to rotate the provincial festival year about among the three cities, and also to hold local festivals in the two intervening years. Lethbridge established its local festival in 1923 (after 1952 the Lethbridge Kiwanis Music Festival), and Calgary its local festival in 1931 (after 1953 this was called the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival). The Alberta Music Festival joined the competition festivals of the other western provinces in the FCMF in 1926.

More local associations were formed throughout Alberta over the years, but the provincial association established ca 1964 was the first formal federation of these groups. By 1990 it had 30 member festivals, each represented on the board of directors. In May of 1967 the association organized the first of what were to be annual provincial finals, held alternately in Edmonton and Calgary, in which winners of classes in the member festivals were brought together to compete for provincial standings, scholarships, and trophies. The provincial winners in turn competed for the first time at a national level in 1972 when the FCMF inaugurated its National Competitive Festival (CIBC National Music Festival) held each fall.

The Alberta Music Festival Association has published annually a syllabus for use by its member festivals. The association's scholarship fund was initiated by a contribution from the Nickle Foundation of Calgary. The papers of the original Alberta Music Festival were deposited at the Edmonton City Archives.


Further Reading

  • Wodell, F.W. "The Alberta musical competition festival at Edmonton," Musician, 16, 1911

    Moore, Louise A. deW. "Progressive Alberta," CanJM, Jul-Aug 1915

    Coutts, George. "Music festivals of western Canada," CRMA, Oct 1943