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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Vermilion & District Rotary Music Festival


The Vermilion & District Rotary Music Festival ran from March 29 to 31st with the showcase performance on April 2. To attend the Festival attendees could enter by giving a silver donation to the Vermilion Food Bank.

Bernie Huedepohl, president of the organization was pleased to be able to welcome the festival back after having disappeared during COVID, but stated, “We are not out of the woods yet” due to lower registration.

Huedepohl noted that while the world of 2023 features a lot of items their great-grandparents could only dream of, a lot of features have been lost as well.

“Family singing and music making was once a feature of many homes, but it is no longer available in many homes. The singing that was once a feature of church attendance has also fallen away as church attendance has declined. Community singing and playing of shared musical heritage drew us together. Its loss makes us poorer and we, at the Festival, hope to restore it because it is too important to allow it to die,” commented Huedepohl.

On March 29 the band and instrumental program (Guitar, Concert, and Jazz) of the Festival was held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Vermilion Elementary School, and was adjudicated by Bill Dimmer, who has played trumpet with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Tommy Banks Band and The Plumber’s Union (gave a command performance for the Queen at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.) He graduated from the University of Calgary, studied in Denmark and Chicago; and is currently the music director and conductor of Nova Musica. He is host/narrator of the ESO’s Educational Concert Series.

During this program, there were performances by the Cold Lake High School Concert Band – Senior High - Grade 3 who won an award. Lauren Noster (won Violin/Viola – Own Choice – 8 & Under, and String Duet -12 & Under), Sonya Noster (String Duet- 12 & Under), Maureen Noster (won Violin/Viola – Own Choice- 12 & Under), Anjana Raja, Maegan Davies, Douglas Romeo, and Kaedence Erikson (won Guitar – TV/Movie/Pop – 14 Years & under) also performed on different string instruments such as Violin/Viola, String Duet, and Guitars.

The piano program was held on March 30th at the Parkview Alliance Church and was adjudicated by Miriam Mahood who is a music examiner and has examined music students from all over North America. Since COVID began, she has examined 780 candidates, mostly from North America, but also from all over the world. Mahood is a graduate of the Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria, the Universities of Saskatchewan and Alberta and the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.

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There were 10 young music students registered with five taking-home awards: Piano Level 2 student- Luke Romeo, Piano-Movie/TV/Pop-Level 3 student - Douglas Romeo, Piano II-Canadian Composer-Pre-Grade 1- Mya Reid, Piano II-Early Modern (1900-1970) - Grade 5 - Gabriel Sader, and Piano II- Canadian Composer- Grade 8- Mary Ulrich.

Vocals were held on March 31 at the First United Church from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the afternoon was kick-started by a performance from Blessed Sacrament School Elementary Choir from Wainwright which won an award. School Contemporary Vocal Group - Kamleigh Wyard-Scot, Hayze Bensmillier and Presly Bensmiller won an award, as well as, Abrie Robertson –Musical Theatre – Contemporary 16 & Under, and Classical Vocal –Italian Art Song 16 & Under. Luke Romeo won an award for Lyric Poetry 10 & Under. The Vocal program was adjudicated by Judith Richardson. Richardson is a soloist and teacher from Edmonton and studied at the University of Alberta, Western Board of Music and received a Higher Diploma in Opera from Pretoria, South Africa. Richardson has been a soloist with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, and the Lethbridge and Red Deer Symphonies, as well as performing frequently in the UK.

There were 12 categories with Abrie Robertson entered in six of them, two group performances performed by Kamleigh Wyard-Scott, Hayze Bensmiller and Presly Bensmiller. Luke Romeo and Douglas Romeo performed solos in Lyric Poetry.

The Showcase was held on April 2, with Douglas Romeo receiving two Rotary awards, Lauren Noster bringing home one Rotary award and Abrie Robertson receiving two Rotary awards and will be heading to Provincials.

Bernie Huedepohl also performed and was the oldest participant in the Festival, he said, “I entered to encourage other people to participate, you can be any age.”


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