As Anne's speech was so well-received we thought we'd put it up on the web site for you to look at at your leisure.
I stand before you as an unenviable record-holder - the only Chairman ever to have presided over two Guilds that didn’t happen.
The last two years have been very difficult for everyone, a time of confusion, uncertainty, fear and sadness: a particular sadness for the Guild Family because during that time we lost four long-standing and much-loved members, Jim Crebbin, Peter Fletcher, Noel Cringle and Harry Galbraith.
They will be missed and we shall not see their like again.
On a happier note - our own Nigel Crowe was the recipient of this year’s Reih Bleeaney Vanannan Award, the Island’s highest cultural honour.
Nigel was introduced to the Guild at an early age, part of a talented family, and was a keen competitor in the past, possessing a very fine voice and being an eloquent speaker. Now he concentrates on the history of the Festival, preserving this for the future. He is currently managing a project to convert a legacy of Guild performance recordings, the Ian Cannell Tapes, making them available to the public.
His work has preserved and added to the rich cultural history of our Island. Our Nigel R B V: a great Manxman!
The trophy table here is almost empty now. We have 213 trophies – all presented by those who in one way or another loved the festival. During those halcyon days of the first lockdown – so quiet. - the trophies were trickling back and as they arrived it was an opportunity to record all the names on the cups and shields- some dating from 1907.
It was a fascinating task – seeing names progress, sometimes from childhood, up to dizzy heights and then fade away. Some names appeared only once, some many times. One in particular---- whenever an A was written the pen would run on with ------Allan Wilcocks! I said to him ‘You seem to have won everything except the Special Soprano class’—oh yes he said ‘I only came second in that!
We live our lives looking forward but we can only truly know ourselves by looking back. We are defined by our past but our hopes are in the future.
Let us look back for a moment to the early part of the last century - people were leaving the island. Times were hard. Imagine watching the green hills disappear from view, hearing the wavelets murmur for the last time, leaving parents, friends - all that you had ever known-- for who knew what – probably never to return.
Some of those who settled in Ohio, having memories of the Guild, instigated the Cleveland Medal in 1923, --- this was their tie to their homeland and the thread has continued ever since. The Medal is a huge part of our heritage and its significance must not be underestimated – it is much more than the pinnacle of achievement at the Guild, it is a tribute to those forgotten voices of the past and a hope for budding singers of the future. It is part of the fabric of Manx History and by being here tonight we are a small stitch in that fabric. But we must face the fact that interest in classical music has declined, and while we must make every effort to revive and nurture that interest we must move with the times and incorporate new ideas and try new things, which we accept may work – or may not………..
So this year, our one hundred and thirtieth, we are back on track with new classes and slightly different formats. The new classes- ‘anything goes’ the mime and the junior songs from the musicals have proved hugely successful and the dance classes go from strength to strength.
We have been very fortunate this year to have received some generous legacies which have enabled us to increase the prize money for the children’s classes. And we also thank the Dandara group of companies for their continued welcome support.
Thanks must also go to those who have stood by us through this turbulent time- the Directors, Company members and stewards, Manx Radio, the ever helpful management and staff of the Villa Marina, St Thomas’ Church and the teachers and competitors who have struggled through the last two years with such good humour and fortitude.
I must also mention that the adjudicators this year have been splendid – so encouraging and helpful…….. they will be back.
Part of the network that holds the Festival together is the tremendous contribution of the accompanists. Hours of preparation go into supporting and helping the singers to give of their best…………………….
On Tuesday morning we received some devastating news ---- West End Star John Owen Jones was ill and was forced to cancel his planned appearance. But the Guild Committee------- able to cope with anything that is thrown at us ……. swung into action and found a superb replacement in Ben Forster.
Ben shot to fame after winning the ITV show Superstar, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for a Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and has since starred in The Rocky Horror Show, Elf the Musical and the Phantom of the Opera. Ben brings with him his accompanist, John Quirk. We haven’t found out who Quirk he is yet----- but we will….
We are doubly lucky in that our very own Helen Power—herself a winner of many Guild prizes, and now an international singing star, will also appear this evening with Ben.
So now, with his accompanist, the wonderful John Quirk, please give very warm Guild welcome to Ben Forster!
We are doubly lucky in that our very own Helen Power- a winner of many Guild prizes herself and now an international singing star, will also appear this evening with Ben.
So now , with his accompanist , the wonderful John Quirk, please give a very warm Guild welcome to Ben Forster.