ORGANISERS of this year’s Henley Youth Festival say it went like a dream.
Hundreds of children from Henley and the surrounding area showed off their creative, artistic, musical and sporting skills during the two-week festival, which ended on Sunday.
This was its 26th year and the theme was “Dreams”, which ran through many of the activities, including dance, music and drama performances as well as competitions and workshops in schools.
Kate Swinburne-Johnson, who co-chairs the festival with Jo Dickson, said: “It went really well. With last year being the 25th anniversary, it was quite a tough act to follow but we managed to do some new things, move forward and have an amazing festival.
“Every year we think, ‘gosh, this is amazing’ and another year comes along and there are more fantastic, talented children who come and perform.”
For the first time this year children made artworks during school workshops that then formed the backdrops to some of the shows at the Kenton Theatre.
Others were taught the cha cha cha before performing it on stage.
Mrs Swinburne-Johnson said: “Some people aren’t aware of all the workshops we do in schools, so it was nice for the children not just to take part in those but then also perform and take pride in what they had prepared. She praised the quality of the performances at the Kenton Theatre, saying: “There are older children who perform to a really high standard as you would expect but even at Junior Proms we had some amazing musicians.
“Some of the artwork produced in the competitions and workshops was absolutely amazing.
“The festival carries on being successful because we really do let children do what they want. It’s not just for somebody who’s sporty or very musical — there’s something for everybody.”
Mrs Swinburne-Johnson thanked all the volunteers who gave up their time to help run this year’s event.
The festival Proms took place at the Kenton Theatre where children in school years seven to 13 performed classical music, jazz and folk.
Fifteen acts involving 40 musicians played a range of instruments, including the piano, acoustic guitar, violin, viola, flute and saxophone.
There were 10 soloists, a wind band, two violin groups, a string trio and a quartet.
The Henley Suzuki Violin Group opened the show with jazz standard Take Five by Paul Desmond in 5/4 time. Ten members of the Henley Music School’s wind band played the theme to Jurassic Park on clarinets, saxophones and bassoons while six members of its senior violin group played Hungarian Romance by Gundula Green.
Later the school’s string trio performed Soldiers of Budapest.
Ava and Mae Reineke, whose mother Laura founded the school, played solo violin and cello respectively.
The Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School quartet closed the concert with a performance of Beethoven’s First Movement Quartet No 4 in C minor.
Festival trustees Suzanne Yeates and Peter Moody took to the stage to thank the audience and present the Elizabeth Griffin Award for 2019 to the Reineke family, who live in Berkshire Road, Henley.
Mrs Yeates said: “Thank you so much for coming tonight, there’s so much talent around this town it’s unbelievable.
“I’d like to thank the co-chairs and the steering committee for all they do to bring everyone together for these wonderful events — it really is a one in a million festival.”
Mr Moody said the Reineke family had “exceptional musicianship” and were “amazing” contributors to the festival.
Mrs Reineke said: “Thank you, we are delighted to be here and love being involved and taking part in the festival – and to think all this is put on by volunteers.
“We will continue to support the festival for as long as we go and grow.”
Organisers thanked the Proms’ main sponsor, Henley Royal Regatta, its special advisor Jill Day, and Mrs Reineke and Anna del Nevo for preparing the music and performers.
The Kenton was also the venue for the festival’s Dance event in which 45 youngsters in school years five to 13 took part.
Eighteen acts performed — eight pairs, five soloists, three showcases and two dance troupes.
The evening was presented by Michael Stubbs and Lee Taylor, who are performing arts students at The Henley College.
First on stage was Peppard Primary School and the Country School of Dance with a cha cha cha showcase. They had rehearsed their routine during a school workshop sponsored by the Henley Educational Trust.
Other showcases included a contemporary piece to Dream On by Aerosmith from the StageWorks School of Performing Arts and a Michael Jackson moonwalking medley by the Berkshire & Henley Dance School.
The audience enjoyed solo performances in interpretative styles telling stories through movement to Human and Wild Horses, plus a rhythmic performance to A Thousand Years by Christina Perry and a fusion of two dance techniques to The Worst in Me.
Many of the pairs based their acts on the theme.
The Dreamcatchers gave an expressive and playful interpretation of Love Someone by Lukas Graham and the Dream Makers did a partner routine with a heartshaped finish to You & Me. There was also a dance to Coldplay’s Adventures of a Lifetime.
The Roberts sisters did a rhythmic jazz take on Freedom by Pharrell Williams complete with hat and cane.
There was also a routine to Happier by Marshmello & Bastille as well as a ballet-fusion movement to Never Enough from The Greatest Showman.
Eleven members of the Stagecoach troupe gave a performance in red, black and silver glitter costumes to From Now On, also from The Greatest Showman.
The Junior Twilight Dance Company closed the evening with a jazz-styled routine performed by 10 dancers to Wade in the Water by Eva Cassidy.
The Young Dancer event featured 13 acts and 28 performers by children in years one to four.
The show was hosted by Archie Newman and Joseph Perry and opened with a performance by the Divas and Dudes Dance Academy.
Emilia Ziegler danced to Firework by Katy Perry and was followed by Ben Stokes performing to Come Alive from The Greatest Showman.
Scarlett Freeman performed a ballet routine to A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Lily James.
Team Glitter used ribbons as part of their performance to I Like to Move It by Reel to Real. One half of the act had to perform sitting down after breaking her ankle in the week.
The main sponsor of both dance events was the Thamesfield Youth Association and the organisers thanked its special advisors Heather Barker, Stephanie Maxwell, Isabel Masters and Sam Riley.
More than 50 children took to the stage for the festival’s Sing event, which was hosted by Kitty Horne and William Van Walwyk.
They performed a total of 21 songs from musical theatre, rock, opera and gospel.
Singer-songwriter Jodi Anderson performed Clocks on the piano before giving a performance on the ukulele of her first single Quicksand, which was released on March 1.
Jodi has been singing since the age of six and writing her own material since she was 12.
Gillotts pupil Ellie Vockins performed the opera classic Après un Rêve by Fauré in French.
Woody Hurst performed an upbeat cover of Troublemaker complete with Flo Rida’s rap.
He is the grandson of Mike Hurst, from Nettlebed, who was a member of Sixties pop group The Springfields.
There were several solo performances, including a cover of Lukas Graham’s 7 Years and Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis on the acoustic guitar.
The senior and junior Henley Youth Choirs united to close the show with When You Believe by Stephen Schwartz.
The youth choir were accompanied by Anita D’Attellis on the piano while Darius Halpern played for many of the soloists.
The main sponsor was Henley Information Systems with special advisors Jessica Norton and Ms D’Attellis.
Acrobats, dancers and a boy who played two instruments at the same time were among those who took part in the variety show Entertain.
Fourteen acts with a total of more than 40 children performed to an audience of family and friends at the Kenton.
The show began with pupils from Shiplake Primary School performing a scene inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The children had been coached for just 90 minutes earlier in the day by members of the Young Shakespeare Company.
The dance routine was based on the dance of the fairies in the play.
They were followed by Yasmin Rigby, who performed a gymnastic routine to Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman before friends Mya Mackenzie and Poppy Cooper, who go under the stage name MYPOP, danced to Bastille’s Happier.
Brother and sister Felix and Didi Richardson, of Deanfield Avenue, Henley, played a version of Jack White’s Sunday Driver. Felix was on the guitar and sang while Didi played the drums.
Last year, the pair won the first Henley’s Got Talent contest at the theatre playing another of Jack White’s songs, Seven Nation Army, by The White Stripes, as well as The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset.
Grace Pratt and Faye Popham danced to Passenger’s Let Her Go before Robyn Fielder and Isabella Stobie gave a rendition of A P Carter’s The Cup Song with Robyn singing and Isabella performing “dance moves” with a plastic cup.
The first half of the show culminated with Oscar Scannell playing Adele’s James Bond theme song Skyfall on both the keyboard and drums.
He played parts of the song on the keyboard and used a loop pedal to keep the melody on repeat as he then accompanied himself on his drum kit.
After the interval, Felix, Oscar and fellow Henley Music School students Sienna Keyte, Jess Robinson and George Weatherley-Bates gave a rendition of Something Just Like This by Coldplay.
Felix and Oscar then stayed on the stage to perform Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Astrid Waite and Heather Toward, known as the Dancing Queens, performed a routine to Fight Song by Rachel Platten and Connor Botha gave a monologue called Ernie’s Incredible Hallucinations.
Eddie Pratt and Maddie Wakefield danced a jive to Daryl Hall and John Oates’ You Make My Dreams, inspired by TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The show finished with Beatrice Bertioli-Smith singing a version of Lady Gaga’s Shallow from A Star Is Born and percussionist George Blumfield delivering a Stevie Wonder medley.
The event was compered by Brian Jackson and Joe Gater, two performing arts students at The Henley College, who kept the audience entertained between performers.
Steph Maxwell, who organised the show with Louise Earl, said: “We love organising Entertain because it’s a real variety show.
“The audience is never bored – from one act to the next they are kept entertained. All of the young people were very professional and really talented.
“They all had a great time and enjoyed it as much as we did watching them.”
• The winners of the art and film competitions will appear in next week’s Henley Standard.