The show goes on: festival celebrates 50 years

Thousands of primary school students danced and sang their hearts out at the Sutherland Shire Schools Music Festival. Linda Doherty reports.

Students singing on stage. Students singing on stage.
Image: A total of 4500 students from 44 public primary schools performed in 19 concerts.

When the curtain comes down tonight at the Sutherland Shire Schools Music Festival, the statistics will reveal the logistical achievement of the performing arts showcase.

For the past two weeks, 4500 students from 44 public primary schools – from Alfords Point to Yowie Bay – have performed in 19 concerts, supported by 44 principals and 300 teachers and school support staff.

Sutherland Shire Schools Music Festival President Sue Roach said the sold-out concerts had been a hit with extended families, schools and Sutherland Shire communities.

“The pride from teachers, the cheers and applause from families in the audience, and the smiles on the faces of students onstage is our great reward,” she said.

The festival is celebrating its 50th year in 2023, returning to The Pavilion Performing Arts Centre in Sutherland, on Dharawal Country, after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

“We’re really proud this festival has maintained its importance to our schools for 50 years, providing these opportunities for students to really shine,” Mrs Roach said.

“It was fantastic to be back after three years. Some of the junior students hadn’t participated before and we had new teachers and new principals supporting the festival for the first time.”

Mrs Roach, principal of Engadine West Public School, paid tribute to school staff who made the festival happen, rehearsing students from Kindergarten to Year 6 for six months before the festival.

“It’s a massive undertaking for schools, big and small,” she said.

As part of the 50th birthday celebrations, most evening concerts featured adult musicians who had performed as students in the festival, including current National Quartet Champions Adam Robinson (Engadine West PS), Ashlyn Robb (Gymea Bay PS), Dane Carroll (Grays Point Public School) and Jackson Smith (Lilli Pilli PS).

Students dancing on stage. Students dancing on stage.
Image: The festival celebrated 50 years in 2023, returning to The Pavilion Performing Arts Centre in Sutherland.
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