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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.


Without doubt, the highlight of 1991 was the Royal Reception held in St. James's Palace on the 6th June, in the gracious presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. The reception formed part of the Federation's celebration of its 70th anniversary.

Eight hundred people attended this reception, drawn from officers and members of the Federation's Central Board; adjudicators in the three disciplines of music, dance and speech; members of the Music Teachers Association; representatives from many of the affiliated festivals throughout the British Isles, and accompanist members together with special guests from national music organisations, stage and concert platforms.

The Secretary of this festival and his wife, Margaret, were requested to attend early in the day to help prepare the special tables and displays depicting the Federation's history, and all aspects of the festival movement. This preparation time gave them an opportunity to look closely at the magnificent rooms with their wonderful paintings. Rather surprisingly, some of the furniture was well-worn, almost shabby.

Around the walls in each of the rooms were placed a series of tables, in front of which stood all those who were to be introduced to the Royal Party. The remainder of the guests stood behind, thus enabling everybody to have a good view of the proceedings.

In the Reception Room the Federation's officers were introduced to the Royal Party before making an entrance into the Throne Room. The writer was the first person in the Throne Room to be introduced to Her Majesty, and he in turn introduced adjudicators Doris Parkinson and Ivor Benyon; Geoffrey Bridge, former Treasurer to the Federation, and Ursula Vaughan Williams, widow of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was an enthusiastic President of the Federation during the 1950's. Her Majesty was introduced to the guests standing at one side of the room, with Prince Philip likewise being introduced to guests on the other side. Other guests from the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts were chairman Blanche Woollin, accompanied by her husband Gerald, and committee member Sheila Sunderland.

The Reception was an exciting and happy occasion for all concerned. A measure of its success can be judged by the fact that Her Majesty and Prince Philip stayed a full hour longer than was originally planned. A truly wonderful day.


These brief comments on various aspects of the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts have, it is hoped, indicated that there is an abundance of support from competitors and organisers for the competitive Festival of Performing Arts movement which richly deserves its place in the musical life of this nation, not merely as a training ground for the young, but as an outlet for more mature performers, all capable of giving immense pleasure to themselves and those who support them.

Competitors, adjudicators, committee members, officials, are but transient figures in the life of any festival, contributing towards the summation and continuation of a manifestly worthwhile experience. It is to be hoped that the next hundred years will prove to be as rewarding as the first.

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