We are delighted to report that once more, our involvement in the Carlisle Festival has been most successful. In addition to our group entries, many Hunter Hall children from Year 1 to Year 6 signed up to take part in individual classes.  Furthermore, leading up to the festival, our children learned and rehearsed Action Songs, five minutes of Choric Verse, two Choir pieces and Instrument Ensemble performances, successfully juggling rehearsals both at home and in school with their academic work, involvement in sports fixtures and after-school clubs.

Speech and Drama Classes at Carlisle Festival

The adjudicator for the Speech and Drama classes at Carlisle Festival this year was Susan Mackay, who ran the Fylde Stage School for 10 years teaching dance and LAMDA Speech & Drama before graduating from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama. She now directs Upstage Drama, teaching Speech & Drama to all ages. Furthermore, she works as a voice actor for animated short films and adjudicates at festivals all over the UK and Hong Kong. She is an adjudicator member of the British and International Federation of Festivals and sees her role as a combination of bringing new ideas and approaches to text and performance as well as fresh encouragement to every participant. She feels that everyone should leave a festival with a sense of achievement.

Our own involvement at Carlisle Festival began on the Monday morning with the Solo Verse Speaking for Boys & Girls 8 years and under, in which Antonia, Matthew and Hugo performed in an enormous field of 42 entries. This was followed by Solo Verse Speaking for Girls 9 years and under and the presentations by Matilda and Annie of ‘Watching’ charmed the audience. We were delighted when Matilda was awarded 2nd place in a class of 35. The next classes involving Hunter Hall pupils were that afternoon with the Choric Verse Speaking section, in which Years 5 and 6 delivered a truly faultless performance of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ by Roald Dahl and were rewarded for this with a magnificent 1st place! 87 marks and a Distinction. The performance was described by the adjudicator as ‘a fine example of choric speaking’. We were praised for ‘effective use of expression, headlines and just enough gesture’. Mrs Mackay also praised the use of contrasting voices to give the performance clarity and depth, good use of pause and most effective use of vocal characterisation. Years 3 & 4 performed ‘In the Summer’ by Thomas Hood with enthusiasm and charm, for which they were Commended with 84 marks.

Tuesday’s classes began with Prose Reading 7 years and under and Minnie (our only entrant), read from Beatrix Potter’s ‘Tale of Mr Tod’ beautifully. Tuesday afternoon offered our younger children an opportunity to present ‘The Joy of Socks’ in what was, for many entrants, their first experience of standing before a large audience and Darci, George and Tomas, did so with aplomb. This was followed by Solo Verse for 7 and under. Harrison, Rafferty, Gabrielle & Minnie delighted all with their presentations of ‘Oh, To Be…’.

The long-awaited Duologue classes (play) took place on Wednesday. Twelve Hunter Hall children delivered a fabulous range of performances, including Lucy Ha & Lucy He, Hannah & Katie, Oskar & Zachary, Jonty & Louis, Francesca & Claire and Sophia & Evie. Oskar & Zachary were awarded 1st place for a most entertaining and convincing performance. This class was followed by the Duologue class (poem) and Paisley & Matilda delivered an immaculately-rehearsed presentation of ‘Concerning Violet Beauregarde’ by Roald Dahl, to be presented with 2nd place.

On Wednesday afternoon Matilda, Fergal & Raphael delivered carefully prepared prose readings in the 9 and under class from their own choice of text, which was followed by the same category for 11 years and under. Matilda, Hannah, Max, Lucy, Bill, Evie, Lucy Ha and Katie, read from a range of texts which included selections from Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo and Emily Bronte. Hannah was awarded 2nd place for her reading from ‘Wuthering Heights’. Hannah also entered the Bible Reading Class in which her delivery of verses 1-8 of St Matthew Chapter 9 was highly praised and she was awarded 1st place. We were all very proud when I received a telephone call the following day from the Speech & Drama coordinator, Mrs Kate Lishman, saying that Hannah had been awarded The Doreen Smith Trophy, ‘for an outstanding performance in Bible Reading, Verse Reading or Prose Reading Classes’. Hannah was invited to receive her award at the Gala Concert on Saturday evening.

The following morning brought the Solo Verse Speaking classes for Boys 9 years and under in which Fergal presented ‘Beech Leaves’ by James Reeves and Girls,10 and under in which Katie presented ‘Aerobics’ by Richard Edwards. Finally, Boys 11 years and under, which gave Zachary the opportunity to achieve his second success when his presentation of ‘Owl Man’s Visit’ by Mal Lewis Jones was awarded 1st place, rounding off the Hunter Hall representation in Speech and Drama this year in style.

Mrs. A. Taylor

Music Classes at Carlisle Festival 

Children from Years 1 & 2 took part in the Infant Action Songs class at Carlisle Festival on Tuesday morning. They were against 7 other schools and began their performance with a medley of three well-known songs – ‘Swing Lo’, ‘When the Saints’ and ‘I Wanna Sing’. The actions were performed in a variety of arrangements and they remembered it so well. The class were praised highly for their ‘enterprising choice’ which came across really well. The adjudicator, Malcolm Green, thought it was a great way to sing when each song was put together in parts. Their second piece, ‘Consider Yourself’, from ‘Oliver’, was a change of style and a chance to show how good our actions could be with complicated choreography. I was absolutely delighted that they were awarded second place with a mark of 88, a Distinction. We are extremely proud of their achievements and know they loved every minute of putting the performance together. This competition was followed by our Band who were taking part in the Orchestra Class for Junior schools. Six groups were in the running for the trophy and our 16 instrumentalists were raring to go. They played their two pieces brilliantly, the ‘James Bond theme’ and ‘Mamma Mia’. Both went down very well with the audience and despite a couple of minor mistakes they achieved a pleasing mark to go home with. All instrumentalists should be congratulated on their hard work and dedication to extra practice to make sure they played as well as they could and with enjoyment on the day. The highly contested Junior Choirs class was on Thursday and this year, eleven choirs had entered the small choirs section, amounting to over one hundred children!

Each choir had to perform the extremely challenging set piece, ‘Sicilian River Song’, and then a song of their own choice. We had a long wait this year as our turn came right at the end in this very competitive field. There are always performances of an exceptional standard but Hunter Hall Choir were fully prepared. They sang the first piece with excellent musicality, commitment and smiles on their faces and were praised for their lovely singing, good story-telling, excellent diction and pretty top notes. This feeling then transferred into the well-known song ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ where Maria Jagusz, the adjudicator, thanked them for their energetic opening, good part singing and quality of the final verse which she loved. The Choir, which included members of Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, sang with great enthusiasm all the way through. Everybody worked extremely hard towards this competition and really showed what they were capable of. Well done to all.

The week was far from over as, for the first time, we returned to the Festival on Friday night with eight Year 5 Choirboys. Since their amazing performance in our Christmas concert they have carried on rehearsing together as they wanted to enter the Vocal Ensemble class which was open to secondary schools and adults too! Out of five much older groups they were last to perform and certainly showed the adjudicator and audience what a young group made entirely of boys can do. An up-beat performance of ‘Hakuna Matata’ and a beautifully sung 3-part version of ‘The Rose’ had people going from tapping their feet to having a tear in their eye. So much so that they were asked to do a repeat performance at the Gala Concert on the Saturday night – what an honour!

I also had the opportunity to return to Carlisle Festival on Saturday afternoon with my son, Samuel, who sang with such character in the boys’ vocal solo class for 11 years and under. He received a distinction mark of 88, winning a first place for the third year in a row, much to his delight!

‘Thank you for the music!’

Mrs. L. Wrightson

First Place:

  • Years 5 & 6 Choric Verse Speaking
  • Oskar & Zachary 11 years and under Duologue class (play)
  • Hannah Bible Reading – 11 years and under
  • Zachary Solo Verse Speaking Boys 10 years and under
  • Samuel Boys Vocal Solo 11 years and under

Second Places:

  • Matilda Solo Verse Speaking for Girls 9 years and under
  • Paisley & Matilda 11 years and under Duologue class (poem)
  • Hannah Prose Reading 11 years and under
  • Years 1 & 2 (Infant Action Songs).

All children returned to school proudly carrying certificates and trophies, which included The Sylvia Cup, The Ena Knowles Memorial Cup, the Canon Grayson Memorial Prize, the Border City Probus Club Cup, The Manx Trophy and The Doreen Smith Trophy.