For the past 40 years, the Rotary Music Festival has been as dependable and as anticipated as the advent of spring to the Yukon.
“We wanted to put in a little something special,” says Edith Belanger, the Festival’s first coordinator in its 40-year history.
And, that little something special that Belanger is speaking of is the reunion and a back-by-popular-demand performance of the Peters Drury Trio.
“As past participants [of the Festival], it’s inspiring to see where their career took them,” she says. She’s expecting that inspiration to spread to the Festival participants because, after all, the Trio’s music took root over years of Festival participation.
Belanger’s enthusiasm is effervescent, even though she doesn’t play an instrument herself.
“I prefer to listen,” she admits. “I like arts and culture.”
That’s what hooked Belanger on the opportunity to co-ordinate this year’s Festival.
“For 40 years,” she adds in amazement, “it’s been all volunteers.”
There are more than 140 volunteers. It’s volunteers who do all the leg work and who find the six adjudicators (from B.C. and Alberta this year). Then Belanger takes it from there, making flight and hotel arrangements.
All of her helpers are volunteers.
“They’re so well organized. It’s so easy to become the coordinator,” she says, smiling.
She also says she’s working with Rod Hill, Festival chairman. “He’s been doing that for many years — eight years.” Hill was responsible for contacting the Peters Drury Trio.
Local businesses get involved, as well. Air North has donated flights for adjudicators.
Volunteers can jump in at any time, she says.
And, of course, it’s about inspiring young musicians.
“It’s to get those little ones and not-so-little ones to play and to get feedback from the adjudicators … and to keep playing music.”
Belanger expects the Peters Drury Trio to attract some first-time spectators who will then return to the Festival year after year.
The 40th Annual Rotary Music Festival will take place from April 11 to 19 at the Yukon Arts Centre and at Riverdale Baptist Church.
The grand finale of the Festival, the Junior and Senior concerts, will take place at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on April 19, with the Peters Drury Trio performing in both concerts. Concert tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre and at Arts Underground.