The philosophy of the Rotary Music Festival is to provide a venue for music students and groups to perform in a healthy, positive environment and to enhance their pride in their accomplishments.

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History of the Yukon Rotary Music Festival

The Whitehorse Music Festival was established in 1969 by a committee of the Whitehorse Choral Society: Margaret Ball, Del Doerksen, Henry Klassen and the late Joe Dendorfer. At that time there were some excellent choirs in Whitehorse and the main content of the first Festival was vocal work. By 1971 the scope of the Festival had increased greatly, and the young Rotary Club of Whitehorse agreed to provide assistance. From 1972 to 1974, the Festival was run jointly and in 1975 the Rotary Club of Whitehorse took over sole responsibility for organizing and administering the Festival.


The first Festival had about 60 participants, requiring one adjudicator and two days. Over the years there has been a steady increase in the number of students and groups taking part, and the Festival has now grown close to 1,500 participants, up to six adjudicators and more than 45 sessions spread over nine days. The content has expanded to include classes in flute, other winds, violin, guitar, bands, ensembles, and especially the piano. A jazz specialist was eventually added to adjudicate portions of the Festival - both jazz and pop music have become significant parts of the Festival. The Music Festival is the biggest of the Club's Community Service projects with an annual budget of about $40,000.


The Rotary Music Festival Committee is comprised of volunteer members including some Rotarians and musicians from the community. In 2008, a coordinator was hired for the first time to help the committee organize all the details of a successful Festival. Their principal satisfaction comes from the compliments received each year from the visiting adjudicators, who invariably comment most favourably on the exemplary organization and the outstanding calibre of the young musical talent they find in Yukon.