The great early music festival welcomes a star singer


One of the island’s oldest music festivals returns after a two-year absence this weekend.

The Manx Music Speech and Dance Festival, more affectionately known as The Guild, is set to kick off at Villa Marina on Saturday 23rd April with inventive and exciting new programming and new classes mingling with the hottest categories and competition. familiar.

Just under 200 classes will be held throughout the week featuring all genres of music, speech, theater and dance, and will be open to everyone from schoolchildren to adults, including staples of marching bands, solos of instruments and duets, choirs, duets and solo singers, songs from performances and the very prestigious Cleveland Medal test.

In particular, the new ‘Anything Goes’ class promises to provide an interesting and fun opening night as contestants perform their own choice of music or dance from Swedish pop sensations ABBA.

By far the most notable development of the 125-year-old festival is the appearance of John Owen-Jones, a stage actor and singer, who rose to fame for his roles in Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, where he remains most young actor in West End history to have played Jean Valjean

John will perform a concert of his best-known songs at the Villa Marina on Friday, April 29, following the final of the Guild’s blue ribbon event, the Cleveland Medal, which he will also judge.

Following John’s performance, he will also lead a stage acting masterclass at the Studio Theatre, Ballakermeen High School on Saturday April 30, 10am-12.30pm.

He will work with 10-12 local singers and give them the chance to perform their own favorite songs, after which he will hold a Q&A session with the band about the industry and their experience, while performing his own songs.

Organizers say it’s a fabulous opportunity to learn from one of the most experienced musical theater stars of his generation and no question is out of reach with John known for his fairly candid answers.

There are tickets available to attend the masterclass, without actually participating in the process.

Tickets are £5, available online at

Jo Orton, marketing director of sponsor Dandara, said: ‘After two years without the Guild due to the Covid pandemic, I have no doubt that the 2022 Festival will be very special and I know so many people are delighted to celebrate at again the best music, speech and dancing on the Isle of Man.

“We look forward to his return and wish everyone the best of luck.”

More information can be found at

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