A PIANO festival has been cancelled for the first time in its history stretching back well over a century.

The Festival of Piano, which is staged each year by the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts, was scheduled to take place in October. But organisers have decided to cancel the event because of coronavirus.

WFPA General Secretary Pat Dibb said: “It is with enormous sadness and disappointment that we have had to cancel our 114th Festival of Piano scheduled for October this year.

“In the entire history of the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts, we have never had to cancel and two world wars did not stop our show from going on. This year, however, we have suffered like every other charity from the effects of the coronavirus closures which have seen our May Festival of Speech, Drama, Choirs and Special Needs’ events be withdrawn as well as the July day at the Kings Hall for children with additional needs, where they usually celebrate the end of term by performing in choirs and bands.

“We had hoped to be able to offer the Festival of Piano but as theatres and churches are not yet open for public performances, and in any case pose difficulties in terms of distancing, we have reluctantly had to abandon hope of its happening this year. To leave a decision any longer would not help our performers or their teachers who need to prepare.

“We are grateful for the many messages of support we have received and would like to thank all those who have already tried to register to perform, but we live in such an uncertain world at the moment where things seem to be cancelled at short notice with no advance warning. We do not want to disappoint people by having to cancel suddenly at the last minute.

“We hope that you will all remember the festival at Christchurch presided over last October by Dame Fanny Waterman, which was such a special event, and like us look forward to 2021 returning everything to normal. Thank you for your support and we will be back in May as usual.”

The Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts is a competitive music, drama and dance festival which has been held annually since 1900.

Announcing the cancellation of the piano festival, the group says: “Our festival has operated consecutively without a break for 113 years and so you will appreciate that this decision was not taken lightly.”