The Cochrane Rotary Youth Talent festival is celebrating a big milestone this year.

Cyndie Baum, Festival Chair, says thanks to the hearts and hard work of some Cochrane music teachers three generations ago, the Youth Talent Festival continues to grow and offers youth the opportunity to express themselves creatively and freely. "They wanted to have some performance opportunities for their students and it has morphed into this huge festival where students of every level, grade, and age can have a safe and encouraging place to try out and to perform at all sorts of skill levels."

The festival features a wide variety of performing art mediums such as vocal, instrumental, composition, dance, musical theatre, and even open to the fine arts. "In the last few years we have had between 200 and 250 performances throughout the festival and that is a steady stream of performers and performances. There have been performers from the age of five right through to eighteen and from every skill level."

Being involved with the festival for twenty plus years, Baum shares it has been so exciting to watch the artists gain confidence and the belief in themselves throughout the years. "It is exciting to see that child come back the next year because they felt so affirmed, accepted and excited about the results of their performance. But they come back next year so much better and much more confident and that is what festival is all about. While it is about skills, gifts, and showcasing, it is really about giving children the chance to do something with the gift they have been given. This has been a great way to showcase and encourage kids to try, get better, and work hard at something."

Generally, grouping performers by age and skill level, Baum, shares there is also plenty of opportunities for the youth to stick around and watch others. Over the years, the festival has certainly seen an incredible amount of talent take to the stage with some artists moving on to become successful, professional performers.

Gifted music artists and songwriters, Sydney Mae and Katiee Dal Pra, performed for the festival and Baum shares watching where their talent has taken them has been pretty special. "I remember Alanna Clarke as a nine-year-old standing up in front of the festival room singing a song she wrote at nine years old and simply tapping the side of her leg as she sang the song. I watched her perform for the festival year after year and she is now performing in Germany, New York, and LA."

Besides providing a venue for artists to showcase their skills, it has gifted many the opportunity to pursue their talent without financial worry. "We've had the opportunity to provide scholarships to help young people attend performing art schools and music schools and really be able to fine tune in a professional way. The impact the scholarships have had on kids is unbelievable; the Rumpel family has been instrumental in changing lives by giving the opportunity for kids to have pianos and instruments and things they may never have been able to afford."

The top highlight of the festival, though, is always the wrap-up known as 'Finale', shares Baum. Taking place on Friday evening (February 8), Finale has been known to attract as many as 600 to 700 people. "I remember Jack Tennant saying it is Cochrane's best-kept secret. It is just such an incredible night where we jam pack thirty of the best performers from the festival and it is always an outstanding, professionally done, and high impact night. Finale is where we really want the Cochrane and area residents to come out and celebrate their kids and their talent. We usually have six to seven hundred people but this year we'd really like to pack the place with eight hundred people, which would make for a great celebration."

Anyone is able to register for the Cochrane Rotary Youth Talent Festival and registration is currently open until January 27th. "This is an opportunity for anybody to perform; a nice thing about this festival, too, is if you are considering being in the music industry and you don't know where to begin finding a teacher this is also a really good opportunity to see or find a teacher. We welcome anyone who has a passion or interest in the fine arts to come and give it a try."

The Youth Talent Festival will be held February 3rd, 4th, and 5th at Cochrane Toyota in their community room with the Finale taking place on the 8th at RockPointe Church in Bearspaw. To register as a performer, volunteer, or sponsor, go HERE.


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