2016 Syllabus
Dear Performers, Teachers, Parents and Friends,
 
Welcome to the 2016 Portsmouth Music Festival Syllabus. The range and variety of classes offered is as wide and exciting as ever and I'm sure you will find some new ideas to pursue as well as all your old favourites. There are some price rises, mainly due to increased costs of venues but we have kept them to a minimum.
 
Our longest-serving committee member was Miss Winifred Beer, who undertook a wide variety of roles within the Festival team, and it is with much sadness that I have to tell you that she died early in July this year. There is a full tribute to her below.
 
The only other change to the list of officers is that Mrs Sandra Lawlor has taken over the role of Vice Chairman from Mrs Angela Kinsey. Our warmest thanks go to Angela for her work in that role, and we are very pleased that she is remaining on the committee to continue her role in the String Section. One other change this year is that we have decided not to hold an Opening Concert. It was originally intended to be a fundraiser but, for the past few years, it has actually lost us money so, with some reluctance, we have decided to do without it for the time being. The Gala Concert at the Kings Theatre will of course take place as usual.
 
With best wishes to you all,

Chair of Portsmouth Music Festival
Obituary
Words on Winnie
During WW2 the Portsmouth Competitive Musical Festival (PMCF), now the Portsmouth Music Festival (PMF), was unable to function because of the German bombardment of Portsmouth as a city and port. Prior to the conflict, many silver cups had been donated to the PMCF by the notables in the city for annual award to talented young people who took part each year in the festival and it was paramount that these were safeguarded. They were stored in the Guildhall. When that building was bombed, some cups were lost but not all of them.
 
Miss Winifred Beer, who was born in Devonshire Avenue, Southsea in March 1923, began her long history with the PMCF in about 1946, as she was known to Florence Greaves (the lady who had been running the festival prior to the war) as a person good with children and having a strong work ethic. She was just the kind of person Florence was looking for to help her restart the PMCF, to develop it in order to encourage the people of Portsmouth to show off their considerable talents, after the dreadful times they had just experienced. Winnie, as we all knew her, was a highly respected teacher in the Portsmouth / Southsea area - many of her pupils still remember her as she taught in the city's schools for 59 years. She cycled to school on a very upright bicycle with her school bag in the cycle basket, and taught music, religion and folk dance.
 
From her youth, Winnie had been involved with the Guiding movement. Once she was teaching, she ran Brownie troupes (she remembered everyone's birthdays and special days) and kept in touch with her Brownies when they went up to the Guides and, as adults, many joined the Trefoil Guild, the senior Guides in the county. Winnie never married and so had no children - she dedicated her life outside school to the Portsmouth Competitive Music Festival and to the Guiding movement, where she was like a mother to many of those in her charge. For many years, she was the Festival's Cup Steward, and would invite her Brownies, as part of their community service, to come to help her polish the hundreds of cups the Festival awards each year. Then every section's cups were safely put together and stored in cardboard boxes under Winnie's bed till they were needed! She also wrote in beautiful copper-plate writing which looked amazing on the certificates awarded to every Festival participant.
 
You never saw Winnie without her camera. She was the official photographer for the Hampshire Guides and the archivist for the PMCF / PMF, keeping detailed records of all the events held and the cup winners and the awards given each year. Her books of Festival records are beautifully crafted documents. She always produced large sheets of stunning photos from both the Guides' events and the Festivals she worked in, and her knowledge of both was second to none. One of her favourite reminiscences was when she was asked to photograph the christening of one of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell's grandchildren. It was a very proud moment for her to be chosen to do this by the revered originators of the Scout / Guide movement.
 
The Folk dance section of the PMCF and the PMF was Winnie's special section. Not only did she have many classes for folk dancers, but also for Morris dancers and Irish dancers as well. She knew all the famous folk dancers in the country, so was able to easily find an adjudicator for her classes. She took her own dance troupe to folk festivals all over the UK with great success. She was very sad when the Festival had to close her section in around 2000 through a lack of support. Winnie loved to travel and in her lifetime, visited many of the countries people generally avoided in the late 20th century - China, Japan, South Africa, for example - and through her Guiding connections and travels, she had friends all over the world. Her joy, once she was bedridden in the last two years or so, was to look through the albums of photos she had made after each visit to these friends. She said she could remember all the details of each holiday by seeing the pictures. Her brain was sharp and lively to the end.
 
Winnie was the kindest, happiest, the most helpful and loving person any one could meet. She always gave of her best whatever she did, and loved to be included in whatever was going on. She frequently went to concerts and the theatre, mainly because she had some connection with the person / people on stage. She lived a very full life. Happily, she was granted her last wish - to die, on 2nd July 2015, in the house where she had been born. We will all miss her; she was the most interesting person to talk to and it is a privilege to have known her.
 
Margaret Roberts