I came from a musical family. My Dad taught piano and both national and character dancing. He had a studio at 248 Lambton Quay. All the children in our family sang and frequently entered competitions. The annual Wellington Competitions were held in the Town Hall auditorium and the then Concert Chamber.

   

I can remember competing once on a hot Saturday night in the Concert Chamber when all the windows into a light well were open. So, unfortunately, were the windows in the main auditorium and it was a pro-wrestling night. It was hard at about 8–9 years old to compete against the roar of the crowd and the occasional ‘thump’ as another wrestler was thrown to the canvas. Our hero in those days was Lofty Blomfield who frequently competed there. Earl McCready was another.

The annual Wellington Competitions always highlighted representatives of the various sections, such as piano, violin, dancing (ballet, tap, character, national), singing, song and dance, elocution etc, at what were called Demonstration Concerts. I still recall the thrill and the fear of singing solo on the Town Hall stage sometime in the 1940s at about ten years of age and I am 82 now. The concerts were real variety and attracted large audiences. Competitions like Wellington’s gave so many kids the chance to show off their talent.

Peter Sander

Images:
Top image: Unidentified child ballet dancers at the August Competitions, Wellington Town Hall. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1955/1862-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23185174

Programme cover: Wellington Competitions Society Inc. :[Grand variety entertainment]. Town Hall, Saturday, May 3, 1941. Programme [cover].. Ref: Eph-A-FESTIVAL-Wellington-1941-01-cover. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23194761

A girl dancing in the Wellington Competitions, Wellington Town Hall. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1958/2869-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23256588

Wrestlers competing in a ring, Wellington Town Hall. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1955/0804-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22606811

Variety of competition cups. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/3570-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23112624