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.
This year’s Festival again attracted almost 700 entries, involving about 1,000 school age children and several adult competitors. The final event, the Prizewinners’ Concert and presentation of awards, took place on Saturday 24 June at Walthamstow Hall’s Ship Theatre where twenty performers gave us their prize-winning pieces, providing a snapshot of what went on in the competitive classes over the two previous weekends. The programme included poetry recitations, mime, drama, piano solos and duets, singing, flute, violin and cello solos and a string ensemble. As usual the capacity audience enjoyed the high standard of performance and the evening ended with the presentation of awards by Cllr Alan Pett, Chairman of Sevenoaks District Arts Council.
This year’s winners were as follows:
KIRKPATRICK CUP Mae Sims
FLORENCE LOTT CUP Jasmine Beckett
VERSE SPEAKING CHALLENGE CUP Alison Boys
RUSSELL HOUSE CUP Charlotte England
EARL STANHOPE SHIELD Grace Adams
ELLA SUTTON CUP Tara and Jasmine Bhatti
COMBE BANK CUP Lucy Hoffer/Evie Hopkins
ST MICHAEL’S CUP Steephill School Class III
MARGARET MAY CUP Steephill School Class V
LLOYD-ROBERTS TROPHY Steephill School Class IV
PUBLIC SPEAKING CUP Alison Boys
SEV. EVENING TWG TROPHY All the Arts Theatre Group
GROVE POETRY AWARD Jessie Yau
ISABELLE PEACOCK CUP Valia Coutroubis
JUNIOR PIANO CUP Madeleine Brown
ELSIE WELLS CUP (1) Archie and Isla McCulloch
ELSIE WELLS CUP (2) Emily Sellors/Amelia Ross
FIONA PRAGNELL CUP Hugo Maughan
SDAC JUNIOR CHOIRS SHIELD Hilden Grange School
SCHOOL CHOIRS SHIELD Hilden Grange School
HARGREAVES-BROWNE CUP Alex Horton
ORR EWING CUP Sam Horton/Sasha Batchelor
FESTIVAL ROSE BOWL Joshua Barrett
LESLIE BONING CUP Molly King/Max Sullivan/Louis Kontos
CLAUDE HUNTER CUP Barbara Richards
NANNIE JAMIESON AWARD Daniel Pengelly
WARREN CHALLENGE CUP Daniel Pengelly
SEVENOAKS TOWN COUNCIL CUP Daniel Pengelly
RUPERT SUTTON CUP Rebecca Wells
CELLO CUP Rodrigo Guzman
COLIN BOSWELL GUITAR CUP Archie McCulloch
ARTS COUNCIL CUP Marcus Pengelly
STRINGS/WIND/RECORDER CUP Senior Olbrich Cello Trio
ACCORDION WORLD MAGAZINE TROPHY Ann Claire Herr
DAVID KEEN MEMORIAL TROPHY Amici Accordions