THE sweetness of TT’s music rang through Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s on Friday as the first evening of the Championships of the 32nd Biennial Music Festival got under way.
Pan and calypso music held the audience hypnotised, sometimes bringing some of them to their feet while others could not help but applaud the performers loudly accompanied by a roar of voices.
The evening of ecstasy started with the Steelpan Ensemble category for the Fitzgerald Jerry Jemmot Memorial Trophy. RIPE Steel Ensemble from the north played Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba while Golden Hands from the South played Debussy’s Clair de Lune. The adjudicators said RIPE played at a good tempo and gave a spirited performance. For Golden Hands, it was a beautiful arrangement and, according to Richard Tang Yuk, “I never expected to see and hear so many colours from a steelpan ensemble, and the song chosen was not so easy to arrange.” In the end Golden Hands won the trophy.
Holistic X was the only competitor in the Instrumental Ensemble (any combination of Instruments) and they mesmerised both adjudicators and audience alike with their performance of Bobby Timmons’ 1964 hit Moanin’ and Len Boogsie Sharp’s I Music. People were actually singing while the ensemble played. The judges said it was a fantastic combination of instruments, well combined and gave pure enjoyment. Holistic X was awarded the Da Silva Cup.
Coming in from south, Jordan Cato was superb in the Improvisation on Pan class with his performance of Edwin Pouchet’s Shock Attack while Luke Walker (north) caressed his tenor with a beautiful rendition of Dennis Franklin Williams’ (Merchant) Pan in Danger. Here adjudicator Dorothy Howden said it was great talent with different aspects of pan playing techniques. These were real musicians with real improvisational techniques. They were both involved in their playing, being one with the instrument. Cato was the eventual winner of the Len Boogsie Sharpe Cup.
Just when you felt that the steelpan was the highlight of the evening, came the Calypso Chorale (without choreography). This time, the Tobago was represented by Roxborough Folk Performers. They performed Ella Andal’s Rhythm of a People and Natasha Wilson’s Sweet T&T. From the south came Jeunes Agape with Sparrow’s Witch Doctor and Aaron “Voice” St Louis’ Year for Love.
Representing the north, the APA Swingers sang Kitchener’s Bees Melody and Calypso Rose’s Leave me Alone.
Adjudicator Richard Tang Yuk said his fellow judges gave him the hardest class to deliberate and speak on. “It was immensely enjoyable. I feel you should do it like in Panorama where someone else announces the results after the judges have left. We had three wonderful choirs.” He said Roxborough was very tight and everybody knew their part and performed with vigour and enthusiasm.
Dramatic, variety with taste and exceptional vocal work were his comments for Jeunes Agape. For APA Swingers Tang Yuk said it was a great musical performance with excellent vocal arrangement. It was sophisticated writing for vocals and they captured the true essence of calypso. APA Swingers won the Joslynne Sealey Trophy.
Adjudicator Howden said the highlight of her night was the tassa drumming of Shiva Boys who won the South Trinidad Music Association Shield.
Other winners on Friday evening were The Lydians Female Voice Choir (Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival Association trophy), Baritone Solo – Brendan Prince (Republic Bank Trophy 1), Arielle Pierre and Gabrielle Alleyne – Ladies Vocal Duet (TTMFA Trophy), Brendan Prince – Contemporary Religious Solo (Geraldine Connor Trophy), SJC Ladies Voice Quartet (TTMFA Trophy 3), Craig Siboo – Operatic Arias Male (Republic Bank Trophy 2) and Marc Mahase – Acoustic Guitar Solo (Newsday Cup).