'Priceless' eisteddfod begins

THE annual price tag is $100,000 but the value of the 47th annual Taree and District Eisteddfod is priceless to the community of developing local performers that it serves.

During the next few days more than 60 young vocalists will present their best performances to adjudicator Dr Inge Southcott, to experience the challenges of performing on stage and receive counsel on how to improve their voice.

The fresh young voices of eight-year-old contestants officially opened the eisteddfod and the sound of simple songs delighted the small crowd of family and friends who had gathered to hear and support the young performers.

Vocal co-ordinator, Deirdre Sutherland is the experienced hand who is organising the team of more than 20 volunteers who must work together to ensure that all performers are present, that all music is collated and delivered to Dr Southcott and piano accompanists, Lydia Wills, Don Secomb and Mei Wei Lim.

It is no small task and the small office nestled in the corner of Manning Entertainment Centre in Taree is a hive of activity as the volunteers sort and check piles of music into vanilla manilla folders.

Deidre is passionate about the vocal section of the eisteddfod and wants to share the beauty of the championship performances on Saturday with Manning Valley residents.

"Extremely talented singers perform incredible vocal gymnastics. The standard is incredible and it is a repertoire of baroque through to modern classical," Deirdre said.

"It is a remarkable evening and if you want to be a singer, a great singer, then come to watch people who can sing without a microphone.

"Opera singers from Sydney and Newcastle travel to Taree to compete in our eisteddfod and truly the championship performances make for an incredible night at the centre and entry is only $5.

"People also have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the performers during the supper break and the bar will be open," she laughs.

"It's a stunning night with many of our past championship performers going on to study music or develop careers in the performing arts."

The championship session begins at 5.30pm this Saturday April 26. Participants will be vying for numerous awards including the $1500 Roma Liggins Perpetual Scholarship, two $750 Smile Scholarships, a $350 special scholarship, six $50 MidCoast Water Award vouchers, the $100 Kevin Dodd Memorial Perpetual Award and the $100 Manning River Lions Club Award, a $300 Stage Door Scholarship and the $200 Denva Bird Memorial Perpetual Trophy.

The conclusion of the vocal section will herald the beginning of the piano section and it will begin at 9.30am on Sunday April 27 and run until April 29. The categories that will follow are instrumental/electric April 30 to May 3; speech/drama May 4 to May 9; dance May 11 to May 22; dance group weekend May 24 to May 25 and choirs May 27 to May 28.

The grand concerts will be on Saturday May 31 at 2pm and 7.30pm.

The daily results will be on the website www.tareeeisteddfod.com.au

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