Marionettes to shine light with concerts

Gretta Taylor and members of the Musicians Collective take a wave with the choir. - courtesy K Savory & A Lim Choy
Gretta Taylor and members of the Musicians Collective take a wave with the choir. - courtesy K Savory & A Lim Choy

The Marionettes Chorale presentation of Christmas with the Marionettes will celebrate the magic and excitement of Christmas in music and song at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, as well as the choir’s ongoing 60th anniversary celebrations.

Over the past 60 years, Christmas with the Marionettes has come to be regarded as one of the award-winning choir’s most cherished events, a media release said.

The concerts take place on December 1-3 from 7 pm, and at 5 pm on December 3.

Under the artistic direction of Gretta Taylor, patrons can expect to be entertained with spirituals, gospel, classical, musical theatre, soca, calypso, parang, along with seasonal favourites, the release said.

Since being established in 1995, the Marionettes Youth Chorale has also performed alongside the adult choir.

In the past, the Marionettes has used an accompanying steelband in its live concert. This year, it has included Desmond Waithe’s choral arrangement of Len "Boogsie" Sharpe’s Pan Rising in its repertoire. It’s the choir’s way of remembering the late Denyse Plummer – a former calypso monarch– who recorded the calypso, while honouring Sharpe, the release said.

Some of Marionettes’ top-tier soloists will be gearing up to thrill the audiences, among them Hermina Charles, Jacqueline Johnson, Errol James, Jacqueline Smith and Nigel Floyd.

This year’s production will vividly explore the theme of Light as a pathway towards seeking joy and renewal during this season that commemorates the birth of the Christ child with its heightened feelings of good vibes and generosity.

Reflecting on the motif, Taylor connected the work that Marionettes had accomplished over the six-decades as a labour of love to illuminate hearts and minds – if only for a moment.

“The fact that in general the public respects the group; that – as disconcerting as it could be – there’s the saying, Christmas begins with the Marionettes; that the members are committed and enjoy what they do; that after every show, people take the time to call or write to say what our concerts mean to them and the difference it makes to their lives, albeit temporarily," Taylor said in the release.

Dr Roger Henry conducts the choir at last year's concert. - courtesy K Savory & A Lim Choy

"Parents of rebellious children take the trouble to let us know how making music with the group has steadied them and helped them to grow. So maybe somewhere, somehow, we are doing something right.”

Collaborative work remains one of the hallmarks of excellent productions. This fact has not escaped Taylor and her team which displayed foresight last year in establishing a young Musicians Collective, co-ordinated by assistant musical director and longstanding choir member Dr Roger Henry.

The upcoming shows will feature, once again, the conducting talents of notable musicians Caryll Warner and Joshua Joseph.

Last Christmas the Marionettes premiered the commendable work of yet another member of the collective, singer and arranger Khadija Huggins.

“I always look forward to the 'Marionettes moment' – that thing that happens every once in a while, always in a rehearsal, often in preparation for the Christmas show, where things just seem to click,” Henry said.

“That always reminds me of how special a choir community is –it’s more than just people who sing shows, but people working to intertwine their lives and their beings in this musical project. It’s never an individual feeling – it’s really the ‘us’ of it.”

To demonstrate even further the group’s commitment to embracing the skills and contributions of the younger generation, Aiesha Clement has competently led the orchestra for several years since her father’s death, while Kern Sumerville’s commissioned arrangement of Olatunji Yearwood’s Engine Room will be reprised for the Christmas shows.

As the group prepares for the concert series, still ecstatic over its diamond jubilee status, Marionettes assistant artistic director Caroline Taylor sums up the prevailing feeling:

“It’s an exciting time for us at the moment, because we’re both looking back and looking forward. So, we’re truly blessed with these rich relationships, and several generations of musical talent and leadership.”

“We couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Tickets cost $200 open, $250 reserved and $300 premium reserved, and are available from Marionettes members, Queen’s Hall Box Office (298-9089) or for online bookings at:


"Marionettes to shine light with concerts"

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