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 69th Sevenoaks Three Arts Festival, the town’s annual competitive performing arts Festival, was held at Walthamstow Senior School over two weekends in June. It attracted nearly 600 entries involving 800 school age children and some adult competitors. There were three full days of Vocal classes and Speech & drama; two days of Piano and Strings, and one day each of Woodwind and Accordion classes.
The final event, the Prizewinners’ Concert and presentation of awards took place a week later at The Ship Theatre, Walthamstow Hall on Saturday 22nd June. This event formed part of the Sevenoaks Summer Festival and the audience were entertained by 18 talented performers presenting their prize-winning pieces. There were piano and singing solos and duets, poetry recitations, dramatic solos, and recorder, saxophone, violin, cello and flute items, providing a small sample of what went on in the competitive classes held over the previous weekends. We were delighted that the Town Mayor Cllr Nick Busvine was in attendance and presented the awards at the end of the evening. The SDC and SDAC Chairmen were also official guests.
The 2019 Prize Winners