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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.



At the 1990 conference of the British Federation of Festivals, concern was expressed at the serious diminution of instrumental teaching in state schools.   Arising from this came the suggestion that the Federation should have some input to the discussions taking place at that time, towards the formulation of an interim report on 'Music in the National Curriculum'. All the fifteen areas of the Federation were represented at meetings of the United Kingdom Council for Music Education and Training.

At local level, one teacher expressed the view to the committee that, as a person without specialist music training, she felt hesitant about entering her children in the festival. This led to the festival committee taking the decision to set up some form of workshop for teachers in L.E.A. schools. After discussion with the Bradford Metropolitan Authority Music Advisor, an in-service training afternoon was held in one of the schools in March 1992, conducted by a festival adjudicator, James Wild. Following this, the participating schools prepared a number of songs which formed the basis of the workshop held during festival week. Two hundred children from eight schools took part, each school presenting a short programme of own-choice choral music.

From the comments given by the teachers involved, the committee felt confident enough to plan for further workshops, both for school choirs and drama groups. It is a well established fact that the vast majority of entries in the speech and drama sections of most festivals, come from independent schools, and private speech and drama teachers. The workshops for speech and drama thereby provided some means of encouraging local schools to participate in a strictly non-competitive atmosphere. In 1993, adjudicator Ann Warr conducted the first drama workshop, devoting the morning session to exercising the technical ability of the pupils and illustrating ways in which their technique could be improved and developed.

From 1994, workshops for both school choirs and drama groups became a regular feature of festival week, thereby giving several hundreds of school children an opportunity to share in this activity in relaxed and friendly surroundings.

Robert Lantaff (C) 1976 & 1996

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General Secretary
Mrs Patricia Dibb
01943 865180


Speech & Drama Secretaries
Mrs Julie James
01943 433444

Mrs Elizabeth Whiteley
01943 830780

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Piano Festival Secretary


Piano Festival