Ararat Eisteddfod to shine light on talent

ARARAT - A record number of entries will take to the stage for the 57th annual Ararat Eisteddfod.

The Eisteddfod will be held at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre from this Sunday, September 23 to Monday, October 1.

Organiser, Chris Harris said competitors would travel from across the state to compete in their chosen fields of vocal, piano and dance disciplines.

"This is the largest Ararat Eisteddfod that we have ever hosted and it is obvious that word is spreading about the high standard of our local competition, the friendliness of all involved and professionalism with which the Ararat Eisteddfod is run," she said.

"Many competitors and their families return to Ararat each year and enjoy the hospitality afforded to them at local motels and caravan parks or with friends and relatives. Many also take the time to enjoy a 'spot' of shopping at our local businesses, dining at our local restaurants, cafes and hotels or a visit to the movies or one of our local tourist attractions."

Many talented local students will compete against the visiting artists from across Victoria in the vocal and piano sections, which will be held on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning.

Mrs Harris said it was pleasing to see that many of these sections had increased numbers.

  "The musical comedy sections and the modern vocal sections are well supported which makes for wonderful viewing for the audience," she said.

"The JM Forsyth Open Piano Solo on Monday night will again be a highlight of the Eisteddfod program as will the open age vocal sections on Sunday evening."

 The junior students will perform throughout Monday and Tuesday morning and it would be encouraging to see a receptive audience for these performers.

 Mrs Harris said Curtis Bayliss from Melbourne would be the adjudicator for vocal and piano sections and that he was looking forward to his first visit to the Ararat Eisteddfod.

 Mr Bayliss is the Assistant Director of Music and also Director of Choral Music at Melbourne High School and has also been tutoring in vocal studies in the Music Theatre course at the Victorian College of the Arts. 

He is in demand nationally as an adjudicator and presenter of choral and vocal sessions. 

The vocalists are accompanied by Linda O'Brien from Melbourne, who is a highly sought after accompanist.

 "We are most fortunate to have the regular services of Linda who has been part of the Ararat Eisteddfod for many years. Her talents are amazing and she has a wonderful rapport with every student, making them feel relaxed and confident in their performance," Mrs Harris said. 

Over the past five years the entries for the dance sections have continued to increase. 

The dancers take to the stage on Tuesday afternoon with many local students from Dynamic Dance and Ararat Dance Centre performing in the first two sections of the afternoon. 

"Ararat will be well represented throughout the entire dance program as students from both schools and those from across Victoria take to the stage - many for their very first time!" Mrs Harris said. 

"Local residents, especially parents, grandparents and friends of the young dancers are invited to come along and show their support for the students as they showcase their talents. "

Maxine Lockwood from Mount Gambier, South Australia will adjudicate the dance sections and is extremely excited to be adjudicating in Ararat for her very first time." 

Mrs Harris said Miss Lockwood studied in Mount Gambier with Zelda Parker, then Adelaide with Sheila Lang and the late Gwen Mackey before being accepted into the Royal Ballet School in London. 

She is an experienced adjudicator and teacher who has been teaching for 33 years, the past 25 as principal of her own school, Maryke Dance Academy, which was established in Mount Gambier, South Australia in 1986. 

Miss Lockwood teaches RAD and CSTD syllabus and her own students are very successful in examinations and eisteddfods. 

Some have gone on to perform in professional companies in Australia and internationally. 

A highlight of the dance sections will be the troupe sessions on Thursday. Dynamic Dance and Ararat Dance Centre will be represented along with troupes from CV Studios, Bendigo, The Academy of Classical Ballet, Ballarat, Dance Struck, Terang and Cobden, Ballarat Ballet Centre, Ballarat, Creswick Dance and Fitness, Creswick, Dance 2 the Beat, Ballarat, Developpe Dance, Dimboola and Ballarat Centre of Music and the Arts, Ballarat. 

The day will commence at 10am on Thursday with the under 10 troupes in the first two sections moving through the age groups to the open troupes in the evening sessions. 

"There is sure to be lots of great music, glittering costumes, energetic students, excited parents and grandparents and proud teachers as the competitors show their teamwork and enjoyment of dance," Mrs Harris said.

"The troupe sections have enjoyed enormous popularity over the past years and the auditorium has been filled to capacity for the evening session the past two years. 

"If you would like to be part of this wonderful spectacle make sure you arrive early so you do not miss out. Tickets will be on sale half an hour before the session begins, but beware you may have to queue!"

Mrs Harris said the Ararat Eisteddfod was growing both in numbers and strength, but this would not be possible without the wonderful support received through grants and donations. 

The Ararat Eisteddfod has secured grant funding to assist with the adjudicators' costs from Arts Victoria, which is supported by the Victoria Government through the Community Support Fund.

It has also been fortunate in 2012, to again gain assistance from the Ararat Rural City through its Community Grant Program.

"The wonderful support received regularly from many local businesses, the service clubs and individuals who sponsor individual sections or donate towards the prize fund is vital," Mrs Harris said. 

"Without this continued financial assistance it would not be possible to run such a successful Eisteddfod." 

The Ararat Eisteddfod Committee is a small group of people who are interested in providing performing opportunities for students interested in the Arts. 

Without the help of the many individual volunteers, the Ararat Lions Club and the CWA Ladies it would not be possible to deliver the friendly and professional service we provide over the duration of the Eisteddfod.

 Most regular volunteers have been contacted, but if any other individuals would like to help out please contact Chris Harris.

"The Ararat Eisteddfod Committee is looking forward to another successful eisteddfod and invites the Ararat community to pop into the Ararat Performing Arts Centre from Sunday to pick up a program to find out when throughout the week they might join them to witness some of the outstanding talent, both local and visiting, who will hit the stage," Mrs Harris said. 

"We invite all Ararat residents to be part of the 2012 Ararat Eisteddfod. Who knows, you may even witness a future star in the making!"