Naparima Girls, St Joseph's Convent are South's top choirs

Members of the St Joseph's Convent, San Fernando choir perform in the Choirs, 19 Years and Under category at the TT Music Festival at Naparima Bowl on March 4. - Photo by Lincoln Holder
Members of the St Joseph's Convent, San Fernando choir perform in the Choirs, 19 Years and Under category at the TT Music Festival at Naparima Bowl on March 4. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

NAPARIMA Girls School edged St Joseph's Convent (SJC) San Fernando to win the under-19 folk choir class on March 4 as the Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival moved to South Trinidad at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando.

However, minutes later SJC roped in reinforcements from their brother school, Presentation College, to earn record high marks to dominate the under-19 mixed voice choir as the only entrant to the class which another school had also been listed but did not turn up.

The day's young performers – in vocal solos, choirs and steel pan solos – were watched by festival patron President Christine Kangaloo and her husband Kerwin Garcia. Festival committee member Jessel Murray told guests the event was a showcase of the country's immense creativity and skill. While its origins were in classical music, it must constantly evolve to include TT's diverse musical landscape such as folk, calypso, rapso and pan, he advised.

"Music can uplift and inspire. People should not be limited by costs. We are granting free admission."

Adjudicator Nubia Williams awarded Naparima 85 marks out of 100 and St Joseph's 83 marks for their under-19 folk choirs.

Naparima offered Siyahamba and Queen Anne, while SJC sang Come Leh We Go and Boysie.

Naparima's performers gave very vivid facial expressions, including each girl framing her face with her two hands as they danced off stage, chiding the village washerwoman for her gossip, "Queen Anne, you like too much confusion!".

The St Gabriel's Girls RC School performs Water Come Out Mi Eye in the under-13 primary school folk songs choirs category at the TT Music Festival at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

The convent girls sang with very clear diction, with lively movements of peering, waving and stepping, in their first song.

In their second song, the convent choir showed an amazing sectioning to offer the sweetest ever blending of voices in the phrase, "till morning come."

Williams said SJC had a distinct theme expressed throughout plus a well-sung melody line, but must be careful with their high notes.

"All lyrics were heard clearly throughout."

However she said they must watch their balance, as required among their voices and among given parts, regarding harmony and orchestration.

"So sometimes your balances was not always fitting."

Williams said Naparima had a good blend of voices and a well-articulated harmony. "Orally pleasing throughout. Good balance. Voices were used effectively, modulating tone and pitch.

"Change in tempo and approach aided in the mood, style and expression."

Minutes later, SJC returned to the stage, with male colleagues, to win the mixed choir, with an astounding performance of Turn Around by Alan Greene, Harry Belafonte and others. Williams awarded them 90 marks.

She said, "The combination of voices fitted well with the tempi (paces of the music, plural of tempo).

"Good pitching. The lyrics were clearly sung. Good adherence to performance and dynamic markings throughout.

"This I consider to be a sensitive and measured performance. Ninety marks."

Members of Anstey Memorial Girls Anglican School choir perform Jumbie in the Road in the under-13 primary schools folk song choirs category at the TT Music Festival at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

Earlier, in the under-13 primary school folk song choirs, Anstey Memorial Girls Anglican performed Jumbie in the Road, while St Gabriel's Girls RC sang Water Come Out Mi Eye.

"Have you ever seen a jumbie flyover the hills of Laventille?" asked the Anstey girls, stomping their feet vigorously on stage.

St Gabriel's's girls opted to line up on stands, helping to section their choir and their sound, even as they later danced off stage merrily.

Williams said St Gabriel's had lyrics that were "clear and distinguishable."

She said, "Good intonation and expression. Effective use of drama in conveying meaning. Very good rendition."

She gave St Gabriel's 82 out of 100, and second place.

Williams praised the Anstey girls for "a beautiful blend of voices" both in tone and balance. "Not all lyrics were heard clearly," she added.

"A level of difficulty was included and you modulated or changed the key as the piece progressed." She said it was a confident performance, with appropriate expression.

"The melody and the arrangement were fresh and creative."

She gave Anstey 85 marks, to win.

Newsday spoke to SJC choir member Gianna Griffith, who sang two solos and two chorales. Saying singing helps her stay calm amid her schooling and lets her express herself, she said, "I am happy when I am singing. I am happy when I am on stage."

Naparima's Shanta Ragbir told Newsday it had been a great experience.

"We did not know what to expect. For many of us it was our first time."

Her schoolmate, Jeniece Pierre said, "I felt we were prepared. So I think everything went well, from my perspective. Everything went as planned."

Naparima teacher Reanna Edwards-Paul told Newsday things had gone very well. "We have been doing Music Festival for years. So we are just happy to be here and give the students the experience as well and step up our game."

SJC music teacher Samantha Joseph told Newsday. "Today things went really well. It's our first time back in Music Festival for quite a while.

Naparima Girls High School folk choir performs in the Junior Folk Song Choirs, 19 Years and Under category at the Music Festival at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

"I am very, very proud of them and the efforts they have made, in collaboration with Presentation College.

"They put their all into it and the results really showed that." Joseph said the mixed choir had 13 boys and 25 girls, while hoping for more boys. She said their first song was meant to be sung in unison, but then the second in parts singing different harmonies and texts to give variety, shape and texture.

SJC pupil Elizabeth Ramesar said the choir had done well, despite little issues in the performance.

Presentation's Jaedon Ramesar felt the performance had exceeded the practices.

"I was nervous for a moment but afterwards I felt I could do it. We had to focus in Ms Joseph and it was easy to find the cues. It was good after all and the finish was good too.

"The conductor, Ms Joseph, made us feel confident by smiling back at us. I appreciate that. You get to find a comfortable space to sing, even when you are being tested."


"Naparima Girls, St Joseph’s Convent are South’s top choirs"

More in this section