What is the Festival?
We are the Alderley Edge Festival for Music, Speech and Drama (AEF). We, the committee, organise the Festival which takes place at the beginning of May each year. It takes place over five days (Tuesday to Saturday) with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. We regularly have well over 2500 children and young people taking part. Our Festival offers a platform for performance, the opportunity to hear the work of others and the chance to receive feedback from a professional adjudicator.
Who are the Committee?
We are all volunteers – no one gets paid for their work on the committee. Many of us are parents from the local area whose children have taken part in the Festival at some time. We are all committed to encouraging children to perform. And, as the AEF is a registered charity, we are all trustees to ensure that everything we do complies with the Charities Commission.
Who is the Festival for?
The Festival is for the whole community. The youngest performers are reception-age children who have perhaps learnt a poem off-by-heart. The oldest are usually Year 13 students who have reached Grade 7-8 on their chosen instrument (that means they are very good!) or have been honing their dramatic skills for years. We also have many open classes for performers of any age, and many adults take part as part of a choir.
Is it a competition or a talent show?
Well, there is an element of competition in that most of our performers do compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, and for certain classes we do award some spectacular trophies. But we also have many non-competitive classes, where people can still perform in front of an audience and get a professional adjudication. Many children will have been working hard for months, learning lines or practising their musical pieces, so our main aim is to give them an opportunity to perform in a public space, in front of proud parents and an adjudicator. Even if they don’t win, for many children it is still a huge achievement and will really boost their confidence. Many adults find the idea of public-speaking terrifying, so the confidence that can be gained from performing at an early age is to be valued.
How many classes are there?
There are over 160 classes for performers of all ages and levels of skill; from beginners to virtuosos. There are also classes for choirs of all ages, barbershops, string quartets, and more. All the classes are listed in our Schedule which can be viewed here or in our Programme which is available at any performance venue during the week of the Festival.
So, who judges the children? Is it the Committee?
No. We employ highly-experienced professional adjudicators who travel all over the country (and even internationally) judging festivals. They give each performer a handwritten adjudication sheet and, time permitting, a verbal critical appraisal of their performance. When we say ‘critical’ we mean in a professional sense – you won’t find any nasty Simon Cowell-style judges or red buzzers. We want children to develop a love of the arts – we certainly don’t want them to feel nervous or scared. We all appreciate how hard the children have to work to perfect their performance piece, be it a piano sonata, an operatic aria or a simple piece of verse.
Where is the Festival?
The Festival is at various venues throughout the village, not just in the Festival Hall. We use St Pius Church, the Methodist Church, as well as the Alderley Edge School for Girls and the Scout Hall.