On 20 July 1950 representatives from several local organisations met to discuss the possibility of holding a competitive Festival in Sevenoaks. After a huge amount of discussion and organisation the first Sevenoaks Three Arts Festival was held in November 1951. Because of the Queen's Coronation and other festivities there was no Festival in 1953, but it has been held every year since then using several different schools in and around Sevenoaks. Since 2005 it has been held at Walthamstow Hall Senior School.
Numerous changes have taken place over the years. The Dance Section was discontinued in 1985; however, in 2003 the Accordion Section was added joining classes in Speech and Drama, Vocal, Piano, Strings and Woodwind.
Well-known and popular with Adjudicators and competitors as friendly and enthusiastic, the Festival draws entries from all over the South-east. Many have gone on to become successful professionals and some are now entering their pupils in the Festival, knowing the benefits and experience they can gain and the sheer enjoyment of performing in front of an audience.
The past 50-plus years have seen many changes in committee members who have coped nobly with the enormous task of running the Festival, notably Jill Hargreaves-Browne (whose mother was one of the founders) who worked tirelessly as Secretary for 25 years! We are pleased to have Robert Sackville-West, Lord Sackville, as our President.
We do however congratulate ourselves on the biggest landmark in the Festival's history, namely the launching of the Sevenoaks Young Musician of the Year Competition. It was the brainchild in 1995 of June Clements, a long-standing member of the Festival's Executive Committee, and has grown in stature and prestige, moving in 1998 from its beginnings at Bradbourne School as part of the Festival in June to its present venue, Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks. The standard of the fifteen or so competitors each year has been astounding, and the difficult task by the excellent adjudicators of picking a winner has resulted in some truly outstanding young musicians receiving the first prize - £500 plus the chance to play a concerto with the Lydian Orchestra, also founded by June Clements. Sadly June died in November 1996, but the Sevenoaks Young Musician of the Year Competition remains as a thriving memorial.
The Festival is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech. Much needed financial help has been given by SDAC and the Town Council, and there were times when without this the future of the Festival would have been in doubt.
The Sevenoaks Three Arts Festival this year saw entry numbers falling slightly – this is not particularly surprising as they have been rising over the last few years, a situation which could not be expected to go on indefinitely. The only exception to this was our Speech and Drama section which continues to grow bigger year by year Our Festival has always had a reputation for being a particularly friendly one, and certainly our competitors showed a huge amount of enthusiasm both in their performances and in showing off their Certificates and adjudication sheets afterwards.
The Prizewinners’ Concert which brought this year’s Festival to a close on Saturday 23 June was once again an indication of the high standards reached across the varied age range and different performance disciplines: with performers aged from six to adult, the audience was treated to a feast of entertainment and showed their appreciation accordingly. Awards were presented by the Town Mayor Cllr Roderick Hogarth, and the SDC and SDAC Chairmen were also official guests.
Award winners 2018
KIRKPATRICK CUP Meera Satisha
FLORENCE LOTT CUP Jasmine Beckett
VERSE SPEAKING CHALLENGE CUP Alison Boys
RUSSELL HOUSE CUP Meera Satisha
EARL STANHOPE SHIELD Grace Adams
ELLA SUTTON CUP Jasmine Bhatti
COMBE BANK CUP Arjaan Amos Miah
ST MICHAEL’S CUP Steephill School Class III
LLOYD-ROBERTS TROPHY Steephill School Class IV
MARGARET MAY CUP Steephill School Class Upper I
PUBLIC SPEAKING CUP Haydn Moses
GROVE POETRY AWARD James Hori
ISABELLE PEACOCK CUP Jennifer Wells
JUNIOR PIANO CUP Madeline Harding
ELSIE WELLS CUP (2) Ayla O’Brien/Emily Sellors
FIONA PRAGNELL CUP Emily Sellors
GEORGE CRUICKSHANK CUP Adi Srivastava
SDAC JUNIOR CHOIRS SHIELD Russell House School
SCHOOL CHOIRS SHIELD Amherst School
HARGREAVES-BROWNE CUP Christopher/Alex Walker
ORR EWING CUP Christopher/Alex Walker
FESTIVAL ROSE BOWL Tristan Peters
WARREN CHALLENGE CUP Daniel Pengelly
SEVENOAKS TOWN COUNCIL CUP Isabella Pengelly
RUPERT SUTTON CUP Jennifer Wells
CELLO CUP Susannah Wells
COLIN BOSWELL GUITAR CUP Antoine Lynn
ARTS COUNCIL CUP Jennifer Wells
STRINGS/WIND/RECORDER CUP Somerhill Swing Band
ACCORDION WORLD MAGAZINE TROPHY Ann Claire Herr
DAVID KEEN MEMORIAL TROPHY Watford Accordion Band
Cllr Hogarth with Margaret Holgate, Festival Secretary, and the cups before presentation
Cllr Hogarth with award winners after the presentation