Kiwanis Club plays on for 75th anniversary of music festival

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The Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent isn’t letting the pandemic stop them from celebrating a major milestone.

On Tuesday, May 11, the club will put on its annual Grand Concert, although it will be held virtually this year.

The program will feature selected participants from the Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival, which was done virtually in April and include junior piano, senior piano, vocal as well as musical theatre.

According to Music Festival Chair George Service, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

“Some of it is pretty classical as in some of the senior piano and the vocal music areas. But there are a lot of fun pieces too like some of the junior piano and musical theatres,” he explained.

The music festival is the signature project for the Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent and 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the event. Service said this is the first year it will be done without an in-person audience and he never imagined they’d be marking such a big milestone in this way.

However, he said the pandemic wasn’t able to completely rain on their parade.

“We were very fortunate that before the pandemic hit us, we had four concerts bringing back some of our graduates from music festivals in years past who put on either concerts or master classes for some of our younger students now,” he explained. “Those were very well attended.”

According to Service, many people who have been featured in Chatham’s Grand Concert have gone on to do several notable things in the music industry including teaching at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto and working with symphony orchestras.

Service said committee members have spent several months organizing the virtual concert and figure out what format works best.

He’s hopeful they will still be able to draw in the same crowd as an in-person concert and even get to share the music with people who might not usually attend the event.

“Normally for our Grand Concert, we could have between 300 and 400 people in the Kiwanis auditorium to hear it. But we obviously can’t do that right now. So this gives them the opportunity to see it,” he said.

The Grand Concert will start at 7 p.m. on May 11 and can be viewed by clicking here. Service said it will be around 45 minutes long and will be available for viewing for 24 hours after it premieres.

The concert is free to watch however Service said the club is always accepting donations. In hopes that the concert will return to an in-person format next year, Serice said the club is also looking for volunteers.