History of Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival

In the early sixties Hilda Price, Principal of the Summerbrook School of Music in Basingstoke, decided to start a music festival for her pupils. This became so successful that in 1963 its scope was widened, and the Basingstoke Music Festival was formed. The objectives were then as now to provide a platform where competitors can appear before an audience and receive a critique enabling them to improve their performance. It was competitive and marks and trophies were awarded. The first Music Festival which was open to all took place in the Community Centre which is now the Carnival Hall from 9-14 November 1964. It included Dancing, Piano, Elocution, vocal and choral. The President was Wilfred Greenhouse, then Principal of Trinity College, Chairman was Alderman F.C. Townsend, Miss Price was Secretary and there was a Committee of 14. One of the Adjudicators was Keith Stent who adjudicated again for our 40th Anniversary in 2004.

John Greenwood was elected a Borough Councillor in 1968 and was appointed to represent the Council in the Festival Committee. He became Chairman in 1970. During the early years the whole Festival took place over one weekend covering piano, singing, brass, woodwind, strings and dance. There was also a section including one act plays. This has disappeared now, but we have replaced it with a Creative Writing Section which includes play writing.

Archivist – Angela Hurley