FEARS of the coronavirus (covid19) came home to the 33rd Biennial Music Festival now on throughout TT.
Last Tuesday evening, before the competition started at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, the house announcer informed patrons, “Because of the coronavirus, our judge Dr Richard Tang Yuk will not be shaking the hands of the winners. He will just present them with their certificate.”
A bottle of hand sanitiser was visible on the table on which the judge worked and he cleaned his hands several times for the evening.
The competition started with Class OP E3 Mixed Instrumental Ensemble (No vocals) in which Holistic X was the only entrant and Tang Yuk spoke highly about their performance of Meditation on One note Samba.
“This is a fantastic way to start the evening, in my days in the festival there was nothing like this, it’s just amazing. This is a wonderful ensemble but I must tell you something because you will be playing in the championships. When the cellist is playing the pianist needs to be softer. Your double bass is perfect but when the entire ensemble is playing you have to pay attention the melody.”
Tang Yuk ended by telling the players, “I realised you all started without tuning to the piano on stage. You must always be in tune to the fixed pitched instrument on stage also when you are playing you should stop on certain chords to be sure you are playing together.”
The evening continued with Class OP D3 String Solo (non-fretted instruments) in which violinist Alfranique Joseph was the lone entrant. She played the traditional Japanese piece Sakura and Tang Yuk complimented her on playing such a difficult piece.
He then gave the stagehands advice on where to place the piano as it was not really working to the advantage of the performers.
Five performers took part in the OP A9 Vocal Recital in which each had to perform three or more contrasting pieces. The judge thanked Jeromy Thomas, Altea Hamilton, Richard Taylor, Clarice Beeput and Kory Mendez for sharing their talent with the audience.
“I enjoyed that class a lot,” he exclaimed. “It is not easy to come up here and sing, I admire you singers. If you play a flute, piano or guitar you can always blame the instrument but when you sing it's you and your body up here, it is so personal.”
He also spoke about the change in the rules where both ladies and gents perform in this class. This means it is now a tougher competition whereas before it was separate.
Once again, Tang Yuk spoke about singing in a foreign language and getting the diction right. He also gave the singers a tip on programming how they choose their songs. He said programming is an art in itself which will come as they develop.
In the end, Beeput ran away with the first place with 95 points (the highest to date) with Kory Mendez second with 92 points and Altea Hamilton third with 87 points.
Ten-year-old Dejon Samuel opened the final class of the evening Op A6 Contemporary Religious Solo–Gents. It is safe to say he was a bit out of his league but his confidence soared as he performed Wonderful, Merciful Saviour.
Brendan Prince came next with a beautiful rendition of In the Name of The Lord and he was followed by Bruce Greenidge with His Eye is on the Sparrow.
Singing in position four Kayin Jones did My Tribute while Jeromy Thomas performed God and God Alone in position five. Michael Franco and Fernando Ferreira sang You Raise Me Up and People need the Lord respectively.
Mendez gave a moving performance of The Lord’s Prayer before Quinton Neckles came on stage and blew the roof off with his performance of Because of You. The applause for his performance took a while to subside.
Christopher Gill did Jesus take the Wheel and Tyrese Jennings brought the class to an end with You Save.
Tang Yuk said he enjoyed the class and could have listened to that type of music whole night but the audience may find his results a bit controversial. Addressing the singers the judge told them, “What you chose is a critical part of the decision because it is a competition. Make sure you chose a piece that is suitable to your voice.
"In this type of music, you have to believe what you are singing as we will know if you are. When you get into the music the emotions transfer to the audience and they enjoy it as much. You can tell they are in the moment.”
There was loud applause as Tang Yuk announced the results. Neckles came first with 93 points with Prince and Mendez second and third respectively with 92 and 91 points.