The Portsmouth Music Festival Competition
Today, in the 21st Century, the Portsmouth Musical Festival Competition is organised and run by the Portsmouth Music Hub from their offices in the Paulsgrove Community Centre, in Marsden Road, Paulsgrove.
The PMF was founded during World War I in an attempt to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Portsmouth in 1917. It was affiliated to the newly formed British Federation of Festivals in 1922 and grew in popularity in the ensuing years. After World War II, four people who had previously been working within the Festival, including Miss Florence Greaves, met to discuss its future. They had only £15.00 in the bank but were blessed with enormous enthusiasm. The revived festival has continued to go from strength to strength.
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In previous years it was always run by volunteers, and one of the best know organisers in those earlier days was Florence Greave, otherwise known as Mrs Primmer.
Today, the PMF annually hosts performances from over 4,000 people from the community, who enjoy making music, dancing and/or acting. These contributors are almost all amateurs who wish to give pleasure by their performance and to learn from the adjudicators and from other performers. It is the largest annual community event to be staged in our city, and possibly the most educational and informative. There is no pressure ‘to pass the exam’, the preparation teaches discipline and team work and increases skills in communication, all of which are positive attributes to have in life today.
Since 1992, the PMF has been very fortunate in the support given to it by its sponsors, advertisers and by the Festival Friends’ scheme. It has also developed many partnerships with local organisations that offer special opportunities, awards or prizes to performers. Chief among these have to be the Portsmouth Festivities Recital Prize, the Solent Symphony Orchestra Concerto Award and the sponsorship by the Milton Glee Club of a young player to the European Youth Music Summer School. These opportunities for our young people are an important link between the Festival and its colleagues.
While costs have risen enormously, so has the standard of performance and the expectations of both the participants and audiences. We continue in the hope that the founding fathers of this Festival would be proud of how their work as grown and been developed within the community of Portsmouth.
A PERMANENT "little theatre” in Portsmouth for music, drama and the arts is the secret ambition of Miss Florence Greaves, Secretary of Portsmouth Musical Festival.
Miss Greaves; who has been the driving force behind fire festival since she resurrected it after the war, now wants everyone in Portsmouth who is interested in art for art's sake, to get together.
'We have proved that there are plenty of music lovers left in Portsmouth, now we need a centre of our own," she said when I interviewed her at the festival headquarters.
She wants volunteers to help convert, or build it necessary an intimate little theatre where amateurs can gather all the year round for rehearsals and productions.
" To say that there is no interest is music and culture left in Portsmouth is absolute rubbish," she told me,
"I hate to hear Portsmouth maligned like this."
Miss Greaves, a concert soprano, wants to pioneer the idea of a little theatre although she fears many people will accuse her of "hitching her wagon to a star."
"If only we could get enough "people interested for long enough. I am sure we could find permanent headquarters. that could be used by choirs, orchestras, drama groups and so on."
A converted barn, or large old fashioned house where a small stage and curtains could be installed would be ideal, she said.
Among the friends who have backed her and helped her change Portsmouth Musical festival from a three-day event to a two-week
affair with 1,800 entreats. Miss Greaves feels she can get support for this second ambition of hers.
"The cost of overheads, hiring halls, In Portsmouth, are tremendous, she said.
"But if we could find an odd place, or a suitable plot of ground I am sure that there would be enough builders, electricians, carpenters and needlewomen among our ram to undertake the job ourselves,"
Another Project which Miss Greaves would like to accomplish is a finale to the festival, with all the competitors performing in a grand work under one conductor, so that the audience could grasp all that the festival had achieved.
Turning to the organization of the festival, at which she is known as the "Skipper;" Miss Greaves said she almost had to develop a Jekyll and Hyde personality to deal with all the problems that arise.
She is already planning next year's festival before this one Is over.
Her husband, Mr. H. Primmer, has acted as entries clerk since the festival was revived in 1949. In those days there were only 16 cups, now there are 79.
Miss Greases has a nucleus of t ten volunteers who, by their efforts, try to keep down the cost of the festival, which is not subsidized. Her first connection with the festival was before World War 2 when as a small child she was allowed to sell programmes.
Afterwards she resurrected it, as an annual event, giving singers, instrumentalists and amateur actors the opportunity to bear opinions on their performances from eminent adjudicators at a fraction of the usual fee.
Her own singing career includes an appearance at the Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, in a concert conducted by Sir Dan Godfrey.
Her accompanist at her first recital was the Mrs. Grace Bullin, who was well-known in flourishing Portsmouth music circles.