I am very pleased that the 47th Goulburn Eisteddfod is going ahead this year. In 2011 things were looking dire for this event and there was a real danger that it would fold. After so many years, such an occurrence would be quite tragic. Certainly the world has changed over the past 47 years and the fortunes of the Goulburn Eisteddfod have ebbed and flowed with the times, but in this era of disposable music and one-a-minute fad-ism isn’t it important to hang onto those stable annual events that ground and unite a community?

And that’s what the Goulburn Eisteddfod does – apart from offering a well-organised and supportive competitive music event, it is an annual occasion where a group of people, young and old, who share a common interest in and love of music and performing come together to share that love and demonstrate the work they have been doing and the developments they have made. How can that be a bad thing? The competitive aspect of the Eisteddfod might be something that puts people off, particularly in the context of the last decade where we have been bombarded with TV talent shows that are mostly only a thinly veiled series of public bullying and ridicule experiences for those poor, naïve souls who subject themselves to it?

The “shadenfreude” factor is high in these shows, and the musical enjoyment factor disturbingly low. I am also disturbed by the developing perception of music competitions becoming something of a sporting event, with a live crowd cheering and/or booing, even during the performance taking place! I’m not old-fashioned, but I do find such audience behavior incredibly disrespectful to the individual attempting to give their best performance – and the behavior of the so-called “judges” is often no better.

The competitive aspect of the Goulburn Eisteddfod is nothing like this. It is a warm, friendly, nurturing environment designed so that each performer (individual or group) can grow from the experience of performing in a friendly, competitive environment.

So, why would you do it? Why would a young (or not so young) musician enter into a music performance competition?

Well, the benefits are many. It is an opportunity to experience the process involved in preparing musical work to a high level. It is an opportunity to obtain unbiased feedback from a visiting adjudicator. It is an opportunity to share the experience with friends, family and fellow competitors. It is an opportunity to learn more about the way your body and mind responds to the adrenaline of performing. It is an opportunity for personal reflection on the progress you have made and the kind of musician and performer you might want to become. Best of all, it is an opportunity to be recognized and appreciated as a musician in a formal competition which has a long history and unquestionable legitimacy. Finally, the perception that the Goulburn Eisteddfod is directed toward “Classical” music only, and elitist performance only, is completely wrong. Just as the Sydney Eisteddfod broadened its base several years ago, so has the Goulburn Eisteddfod. There are section for all forms of contemporary and classical music and this year a very exciting section focusing on original composition for musicians from under 12 years to under 25 years has been included! The GRC supports the Goulburn Eisteddfod wholeheartedly and we are very proud to be hosting the vocal and instrumental sections here.

24 April 2012

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