The Manx Music Festival, in association with Dandara, has appointed a new Chairman and Vice Chairman to head up its Executive Committee.
After acting as Vice Chairman for five years, Anne Clarke was elected as Chairman at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting, where Eric Quirk formally stood down after 12 months in the role. John Riley, who some will remember fondly as the headteacher of St Thomas’ School, was appointed as Vice Chair.
Anne is well-known in the Island’s performing arts scene and has been a competitor and committee member of the Guild for many years. She’s co-writer and producer of the Manx Gateway Drama Group’s annual play, in addition to being a regular judge of the Rotary Public Speaking Competition and The Prayer Book Society’s Cranmer Awards.
Anne said: ‘My family has strong ties with the Guild, with generations before me having competed in its formative days and winning six highly coveted Cleveland Medals. My own singing talents never truly surfaced but my interest lies in the spoken word. I’m particularly keen to encourage young people to gain confidence in speaking before an audience and find it extremely gratifying to see youngsters grow and develop their talents.
‘We hope to build on the success of 2019 with some exciting new classes for 2020 including ‘Anything Goes’, where competitors will perform a musical or dance piece in-keeping with the theme, which is ‘Africa’. Singing classes, in particular, continue to thrive and we’re lucky to have such a wealth of experienced accompanists who skillfully encourage children and adults to push themselves.
‘The Guild is fortunate to have the support of our sponsor Dandara, a dedicated Executive Committee and a team of stewards who volunteer their time to ensure the Festival runs smoothly for the competitors and its many supporters.’
Anne also praised her predecessor for his commitment over the past year.
She added: ‘Eric’s enthusiasm and energy over the last 12 months has been wonderful and we’re sad to see him step down, there’s no doubt that he has made a lasting positive contribution to the Guild in his time. My involvement with the Festival is something I am passionate about, and it continues to bring me joy and excitement each year, so I’m looking forward to this new challenge.’
Newly-appointed John, who is very well known in Manx music circles as the conductor of Island singing group Musicale, organist of St Matthew’s Church, Chairman of the Isle of Man Organists Association, and, most recently, Director of the Manx Festival Chorus, is also looking forward to moving forward with the Guild.
John explained: ‘Our aim is to keep moving forward by embracing new ideas while at the same time keeping alive the Guild traditions which are dear to the hearts of so many. Above all, we want to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
‘We rely on the support of the community to stage this fantastic celebration of music, speech and dance and are grateful for the continued sponsorship provided by the Dandara Group, which is an enormous help.’
Award-winning local homebuilder Dandara became the first ever headline sponsor of the Festival in 2015 and has since helped it go from strength-to-strength, investing money, time and resources to enable it to thrive and flourish.
Dandara Group Managing Director Seamus Nugent concluded: ‘We’re proud to support the Guild, the largest participation event in the Island’s cultural scene which has a long and illustrious history, and look forward to working with the new Chairman and team.’
The 2020 Manx Music, Speech & Dance Festival will take place from 25th April – 2nd May. The Festival Syllabus is available free-of-charge in newsagents, libraries and other outlets around the Island.