Overview of Singing Section
The Festival provides an opportunity to try new repertoire, to gain experience of performing in public, and to learn from listening to other singers and to the comments of our friendly and helpful adjudicators.
We have choir classes for all ages. Our primary school choir classes have become extremely popular in recent years, and we have now introduced a new class for younger pupils. We also have classes for secondary school age choirs, youth choirs, boys’ choirs, barbershop, madrigal and adult choirs. We also welcome local Beavers and Rainbows, Brownie Guide and Cub packs, Guide companies and Scout Troops with their Action Songs and Camp Fires.
Junior ‘Classical’ Classes
Our Junior singers have ‘set song’ classes for all age groups, and an increasing number of “own choice” classes in different styles. This includes Unaccompanied Folk Song which has traditionally been strong at Hastings Festival, as well as Sacred Song, Foreign Language Song and our more recent “Verse and Song” English Art Song class. In 2012 we are introducing a new Junior Recital Class to provide experience in preparing and performing a 10 minute recital.
Junior Medal Classes
For the more experienced junior singer, there are the challenges of the Bronze and Silver Medal classes with demanding set pieces.
Show Song Classes
Our fastest growing singing classes are for Show Songs. For junior singers, we have classes for each age group to make the class sizes manageable. We also have a class to introduce junior singers to the classic show songs of Novello, Berlin, Gershwin and Kern which might otherwise be overlooked in the desire to sing more modern repertoire. For 2012 we have opened up our adult Music Hall and Gilbert and Sullivan classes to performers Age 16 and over, for those who wish to try more traditional show songs.
For adults, we have separate classes for the show songs of different eras i.e. Light Opera, Musical Play (incorporating Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin and similar) and Show Song (incorporating songs musicals and films from 1970 to present day). Some of these classes can be entered by duets, trios and quartets as well as soloists.
Pop Vocal Classes
The Popular Music Vocal classes, where performers may sing to a backing track using a microphone, are also extremely popular and provide a great opportunity to experience performing in a theatre with a sound system and professional sound engineer. As well as solo classes (including the introduction in 2012 of a class for younger performers Age 9 and under 13) there is also a new class for Pop Vocal Duets and Ensembles.
Adult ‘Classical’ Classes
Our adult classes start with the set song classes for each voice, which culminate in the John Lockey championship for the winners of each voice class. There are then a wide range of ‘own choice’ classes including two age groups of Veterans, Novice, Early Music, Unaccompanied Folk Song and Humorous Song, amongst others. These classes attract entrants of a variety of ages and standards.
A particularly enjoyable, and nostalgic, session is in the middle week of the Festival with an evening of Light Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, and finally a Music Hall class (in costume, by popular request, following the Festival centenary celebration in 2007). There are also opportunities to enter classes for duets, trios and quartets.
In the final week of the Festival are a wide range of senior classes, many of which are open to professionals. These include the more ‘serious’ classes (such as Operatic, Lieder, Oratorio, Bach, Mozart, English Art Song, International Art Song, French, amongst others), as well as the Recital Class. The winners of certain Open Classes then compete in the June Elgar Championship on the final evening of the Singing Festival.
Adult Medal Classes
Hastings Festival is unusual in offering for the more experienced adult singers the Silver Medal class, and the prestigious Gold Medal class, which attracts students from Music Colleges, as well as talented local singers, and offers a cash prize.