A part of the Lydians' mission statement says, "We believe in God. Our belief demands that we live in service of God’s greater glory. We recognise that music is a gift and that the ability to perform it is a grace – this leads us to develop our skills to their fullest and to give to all who wish our co-operation and support that they may develop their own ability. "
With this in mind, the Lydians celebrated 40 years of musical excellence last weekend with Deo Gratias (Thanks be to God) at Queen’s Hall, St Ann's.
Lydians’ chairman Sterling Frost noted, “As we celebrate the 40th anniversary, we look back with profound gratitude for the outpouring of support over the years by you, our patrons. You have become part of the Lydian family. I am sure what has drawn your support is the beautiful blending of the voices and the transcendental way that choral paired with orchestral music lifts your spirit and touches your soul.”
Chief Justice Ivor Archie was among the specially-invited guests at the gala event last Friday.
The first half of Deo Gratias featured The Lydians Choir as well as soloists, Lydian Men, and Lydian Steel mostly celebrating the traditional Christmas feeling. The group also did one excerpt from each of the five major operas it performed over the last 40 years.
In the run-up to Deo Gratias, the Lydians promised an offering of vibrant Christmas selections flavoured with a strong selection of music from the Latin American diaspora including Cuba, Argentina and Puerto Rico, and it certainly delivered.
The presence of pan music, African drums and even tassa drumming gave the listener a sense of belonging. This feeling was ever more present in the second half of the programme as The Lydians brought it back home with songs like Rio Manzanares, Anda Parranderos, Merry Christmas and a soca parang medley.
John Jacob’s arrangement of Rio Manzanares was over the top. And soloist Janine Charles-Farray’s version of All I Want for Christmas is a Pan Man solicited both laughter and applause from the audience.
Throughout the show the Lydians Musical Muses were featured –La Madame (The Madame), La Reine (The Queen) and La Belle Nouvelle (The Beautiful New).
The show ended with the Lydians performing Handel’s But Thanks Be to God (from Messiah) into Hallelujah. These items featured the drums, tassa and pan along with the voices.
Deo Gratias was conducted by Carl Anthony Hines and directed by Mervyn de Goeas with stage direction by Wendell Manwarren, set design by Christopher Littrean and costume design by Ronald Guy James
The Lydians was founded in 1979 by Joyce Rawlins-Spence and she stood at the helm until 1982. She was succeeded by Alma Pierre as musical director (1984-1986). Dr Pat Bishop became the third musical director from 1987-2011 and in 2017, Lorraine Granderson became the fourth musical director.