The Oilsands Rotary Music Festival was established in 1976 by Norma Jean Atkinson. We are funded by many generous donors and The Fort McMurray Society of The Friends of Music. We believe, as Sir H. Walford Davies (British Adjudicator) did, that “in music festivals the object is not to gain a prize, nor to defeat a rival, but to pace one another on the road to excellence.”
We owe the existence of Canadian Music Festivals to Governor General Earl Grey. In addition to football, he had the arts on his mind. Following a concert which was part of the inauguration ceremonies of Alberta, he proposed that a Dominion-wide festival should be established for drama and music. Alberta and Saskatchewan were the only two provinces to respond to a request for support that he sent to each of the provinces.
For many children music festivals are an introduction to the performing arts. Musical training gives not only enjoyment, but also helps them explore and cultivate emotions and suggests a form of self-expression. Music Festival is an interesting way to learn the value of practice, discipline, and in the case of a band or chorus, the elements of collaboration. In the festival scenario, the competitive aspect allows students to attain goals, to learn stage deportment, to listen, to win or lose graciously and to become good audience members.
We tend to think everyone is aware of the benefits this system provides because competitive music festivals have enjoyed such a long history in Alberta. Certainly the great-grandchildren of the first festival volunteers, who are now music festival supporters themselves, are aware of why they spend thousands of hours preparing for their annual local festival. You, too, can be part of this history by volunteering your time or making a tax deductible donation.