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Thursday 13 June, 2019

Over two days and across two locations, the 2019 Festival of the Sacred wowed audiences in Echuca and Bendigo last month. More than 1300 Catholic school students took part in the festivals, which included a choral, dance and drama program. Grade five and six students from eighteen regional Catholic Primary Schools were split between the two performances with the first one taking place at St Mary’s Primary School in Echuca on Wednesday, June 12, followed by St Francis of the Fields Primary school in Strathfieldsaye on Thursday, June 13.

Event organiser, Education Officer for The Arts, Claire Spinelli, from the Catholic Education office said the Festival of the Sacred has something for everyone. “The repertoire for this year’s concerts include two high energy dance numbers and a variety of choral offerings, weaved together through short dramatic skits performed by the year five and six students of Sandhurst’s Western Deanery Schools,” said Claire.  “The concert has an indigenous touch with Birrama Mana, sung by the mass choir, reminding the audience of the beauty of everyday Australia and the joy of coming home.  There are a few blasts from the past with old school pop and Motown musical numbers interspersed among contemporary easy listening and theatrical fare,’ she said. “True to our Catholic tradition, the finale massed choir item is Praise His Holy Name by Keith Hampson,” said Ms Spinelli.

The festival is part of an Arts strategy for the Sandhurst Diocese which highlights the important partnership between Catholic Education Sandhurst and the Australian School of Performing Arts who deliver high quality performing arts experiences for young people throughout the country.

Tutors from the Australian School of performing Arts tutor spend time in each school teaching the program to students and teachers so that they can practice the songs and dances during the term in preparation for the festival. It is only on the performance day however, that all the schools come together for the massed performance.

The festival program, which started in the Sandhurst diocese, now takes pace in other regions of Australia. The specialist skills that the students learn from these industry professionals instils an appreciation for The Arts and for some, ignites a passion for performing that will last a lifetime.

Director of Catholic Education Sandhurst, Mr Paul Desmond said the festival remained a calendar highlight

“It's wonderful to see music and singing becoming such an important part of the educational experience for these students, and to be able to provide something special for the kids to look forward to and work towards," he said. “The partnership with the Australian School of Performing Arts has established an important program which has taken place in Sandhurst schools over the past decade. The benefits for students and teachers is invaluable as the program continues to grow and improve each time.Claire Spinelli said there are five Festivals of the Sacred taking place across the Sandhurst diocese this year with the next two occurring in Wodonga and Wangaratta next term. The Festivals of the Sacred occur every second year, alternating with an alternative program called, Sandhurst Arts on Show.

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