The Southeastern Manitoba Festival (SEMF) has been underway and busy since February 21.  

This week kicked off with Musical Theatre at the Evangelical Fellowship Church on Monday and Tuesday.  

Tami Schindler-Klassen was the coordinator for SEMF's musical theatre discipline. She notes that they have 68 entries this year, which is more than last year.   

She hopes numbers continue growing as she says musical theatre is “entertaining, fun, and the kids put on a good show.”  

It is her fourth year as a coordinator, and she has been involved with the festival for a decade. She adds that practice during the pandemic was limited, but she is excited to be back.  

The musical theatre discipline’s adjudicator is Jacqueline Harding, who has years of experience under her belt.  

"We are so lucky to have her. She studied in Winnipeg but then went on to study at the Boston Conservatory and is currently the Associate Artistic Director at Rainbow Stage. She has a huge musical theatre background and a lot of experience to come and share with the kids,”  

On Wednesday, Choral performances took place at the Steinbach EMC on Main St., with Elroy Friesen adjudicating the non-competitive discipline.  

Then on Thursday and Friday, Senior Piano students took to the grand piano inside the Steinbach Arts Centre. Coordinator Kimberly Dyck says the number of entries increased from last year.  

"We have about 130 entries this year. Last year we had to run a little bit differently, working around COVID restrictions, and it's really great to see people starting to come back into what is a very normal festival year for us this year,” Dyck says. “I believe that every single discipline that is running this year has more entries than they did last year,"  

The adjudicator for Senior Piano is Dr. Judy Kehler-Siebert, a Professor of Piano at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba. She has travelled across the globe to perform and share her love for music.   

Dyck says that they are “privileged” to have her teach the young pianists this week and that they are “doing a great job.”  

She adds there are two more days of competition and then, “We get to hear all of the winners from the classes that happened during the day, they will come back on Monday evening and Tuesday evening, depending on what grade level of piano they're in,” she explains. “They will perform again to compete for an award. We'll hand out some scholarships and trophies and send some kids off to represent Steinbach and the area at the provincials as well. That will be really fun and exciting.”  

The strings discipline entries are performing on Saturday at the Steinbach Arts Centre and to wrap up the 2023 South East Manitoba Festival, one more day of Choral on Wednesday, March 15 at the Steinbach EMC on Main St.  Admission is $3, cash only at the door. 

Finally, Dyck notes there will be no Gala this year.    

“Our volunteer base is running a little thinner than usual, and we just weren't able to pull that together this year,” she says. “So, if anyone is aware of someone or themselves who is interested in helping out with running the festival, we are always open to having more people come on board and help us out and make what we're doing here run even better and grow even bigger and be able to impact even more people in the community,”   

With files from Michelle Sawatzky and Adi Loewen.

Photos in the gallery below are courtesy of the South Eastern Manitoba Festival and Rachel Braun-Schmidtke. These are some of the Trophy and Award winners of the 2023 South Eastern Manitoba Festival.