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Affiliated to the British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech

Important Dates


1 March 2022 - Closing date for entries to the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts Speech, Drama and Music Festival 2022.

17th- 20th May 2022 - 2022 Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts Speech, Drama and Music Festival.

To celebrate the 70th festival in 1976 Robert Lantaff prepared a short history up to that date. A number of interesting events and developments have occurred since then which are well worth reporting and have therefore been included in this update (1996). Since the historical background obviously remains the same, I have merely included the original text with suitable amendments and additions.

In this series of articles, "I" refers to Robert Lantaff and the original copyright remains with him. These articles are repeated for anyone interested in the history of the Wharfedale Festival.


The bulk of pianoforte accompaniment has been provided by Alice Greenwood (1908-1938); W.H. Ibbotson (1909-1934); Anne Babidge (1935-1944) and Gwendolyn Martin (1940-1948). The festival's principal accompanist, Alan Soulsby served from 1954 to 1976, assisted by Keith Swallow from 1962-1972, and Jean Wildman (a former competitor) from 1973. The present accompanists are Geoffrey Hamilton, Catherine Woodhouse, Joan Lewis-Ogden and David Wilks.

The only recorded exception to the high standard of accompaniment appears in the early committee minutes during which meeting one accompanist was not re-appointed because of complaints by the adjudicators and some competitors. Dr. Wiseman voiced the general feeling of visiting adjudicators when, in 1955, he said that' it was a sheer joy to come to a festival and find accompanists who were so efficient'. In spite of this, competitors occasionally use their own accompanists, and sometimes hamper their efforts by so doing. More than once has an adjudicator publicly admonished a competitor for presenting without warning an Own Choice item with a fiendishly difficult pianoforte part, enough to flaw all but the most experienced accompanists.

Alan Soulsby was involved in one of those delightfully spontaneous incidents which provided light relief when, after three duet teams had performed the Polka from Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper, he and adjudicator Antony Hopkins mounted the platform and asked if their late entry could be accepted, one of them requesting to be judged on sight-reading standards. On hearing their performance, Dr. Wiseman said 'You both have promise and should keep on working together!'

Robert Lantaff (C) 1976 & 1996

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Festival Secretaries

General Secretary
Mrs Patricia Dibb
01943 865180


Speech & Drama Secretaries
Mrs Julie James
01943 433444

Mrs Elizabeth Whiteley
01943 830780

Piano Festival Secretary

Piano Festival Secretary


Piano Festival