Fifty Years Ago...
Sir Mackworth Young was elected President at the A.G.M..
It was reported that the date of the Festival had been arranged with great difficulty, and at last it had been fixed for the first three days of the last week of October. This was much later than previous years and it was stated that this would give cheap fares.
On the motion of Mr Sealy it was moved; “That the Council of the Musical Festival represent the claims of the Musical Festival to the Education Committee of the Corporation with a view to ensure sympathetic action so that the Council schools should be encouraged to enter the competitions, and also certain classes should be established in the continuation schools.”
This was in response to the fact that, at that time, school children were not allowed time off to compete in the Festival.
An amusing article published in the Hastings Observer of 1st November that year entitled “Humour at the Festival” is reproduced in the book.
13th – 30th March 1963
At the opening ceremony the Chairman of the Executive Committee expressed the hope that attendances at the various sessions would be bigger than they were last year. The Festival still commenced with heats for the one-act plays class for the Gwendoline Crane challenge bowl. It was won this year by the Bexhill Players, who performed a drama entitled ‘The Boy Connor.’ The North Country Club took the Cup presented by Mr. Kim Wooding for the best individual performance from Albert Hobson.
The youngest of the solo dancers occupied the stage of the main hall on the first Thursday, but in the morning the adjudicator, Helen Wingrave, could find no one meriting a first place, but she did award a number of honours and merit certificates. In the 7 and under 8 ballet, Donna Sellens placed second. As Donna McLaughlin she had her own dancing school, Silverlea, and is now a dance teacher with local school, Laton Ash.
Adrian Taylor won the class for violin playing for any age. Dr. Charles Hambourg said his performance was ‘an example of good teaching, of assiduous practice, the use of the brains and a love of the instrument.’ Experience and maturity were all that he could gain in future years. The 18 year-old Grammar School boy came second in the Gold medal class, when he was called ‘a naughty boy’ by Dr. Hambourg, who scolded him for his lack of dynamics.
Five year-old Sally King captured all hearts with her expressive singing when she won the Lilian Cordell cup for unaccompanied vocal solo under 11 and also the class for under 7. Adjudicator, Mr. Murray Brown, said that Joseph Beaulieu’s ‘The Kite’ was not an easy test piece, but Sally made an extremely good job of it. Later in the class for elocution, under 6, Sally – who is Miss Lena Copping’s youngest pupil – was again given first place for her recitation of ‘Little Flo’s Letter.’ Sally featured regularly among the prize winners in various classes over the next few years.
“I don’t remember ever having seen a Scout troop like this before. They combined the comic, the serious, the tragic, and their zip and spontaneity provided first class entertainment.” So said the adjudicator, Mr. J. Murray Brown, of the 24th Hastings Grammar School Troop’s performance, awarding them 95 marks. Afterwards, Mr. L. G. H. Baker, the troop’s leader, said it was about the 14th consecutive year they had won the class and the Mrs. L. G. H. Baker Trophy that went with it.
The women’s vocal Gold medal was won by a Hastings entrant, if only of a week’s standing, Patricia Conti, a contralto with a beautiful voice. She sang Michael Head’s lovely song ‘The Three Mummers.’ Mr. Head himself was the adjudicator and said he had sat entranced throughout.
The John Lockey Memorial Scholarship went to Brighton pianist Margaret Grimsdell.
John Holroyd won the organ Gold medal and then went on to conduct the Oriel Singers to victory in the mixed choir’s class for the St Cecilia Challenge Shield.
The elocution Gold medal was won by Rosemary Rich.