Sunday night at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre provided a strong reminder of the astounding vocal talent present in the island’s primary and secondary schools.
The annual Schools’ Music Festival hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, provided a jam-packed evening featuring 42 vocal and instrumental performances by the best of the best in six hours.
Cheers rang throughout the tightly packed hall. Not a seat was available, as schools representatives, supporters, families and friends crammed into the venue to encourage their little ones.
The first to perform for the night grabbed the first place spot. Harrison College, competing for Large Instrumental Ensemble Secondary, took it home with the Girl from Ipanema.
One of the most highly anticipated sections was the Local Vocal Ensemble Secondary. The contenders consisted of the Coleridge and Parry Voices, Combermere School with their history of music and Harrison College.
Singing an original song, composed by their music teacher Marlon Legall entitled Tell Em, the Coleridge and Parry Voices gave a hair–raising performance. The vocal talent coming from the choir of second formers to fifth formers, received a well – deserved standing ovation.
The group took back home not only the prize for Large Vocal Ensemble Secondary, but also Most Dynamic Overall Performance and Composer’s Award for Best Original Song.
Harrison College was second in the Large Vocal Ensemble Secondary with Ezekiel Saw The Wheel and The Lodge School, singing local hit How Many More by well-known alumnus John King, took third spot.
Unfortunately for the Alleyne School who were top contenders, technical difficulties greatly impacted their re-enactment of the Circle of Life from the Lion King. Clad in their costumes, with their war face ready, their voices were barely audible, ruining the theatrics and delivery of their performance.
Although the Coleridge and Parry Voices snatched the first prize for Small Vocal Ensemble Secondary, the Frederick Smith Secondary put up a good fight. The school band named Focus, delivered a lively and spirited rendition of Whitney Houston’s Dance with Somebody. The three students possessing strong vocals, did not fall short in their energy.
Fourteen year old Tia Corbin didn’t just sing with the audience, she held worship with them as well. Singing That Name, the 3rd form student of the Barbados Seventh Day Adventist Secondary turned the Centre into a worship ceremony.
Calls of Hallelujah came from the crowd, as some stood and sang along with her. Preaching to the congregation gained Corbin the first place prize for Solo Vocal Secondary.
Well-known for its musical talents, the Combermere School won Small Instrumental Ensemble with their jazzy and spunky take of Stevie Wonder’s Master Blender. Sharply attired in their blue suits, the band comprised of brothers Kofi and Kymani Gilkes who serenaded the crowd.
Combermere also took the special prize of Best Overall Small Instrumental Ensemble Performance.
While their seniors delivered stellar performances, the primary school students were not to be upstaged. Claiming the grand prize for Large Vocal Ensemble, the Mount Tabor Primary School passed with flying colours, with their performance of This Too Shall Pass.
Hindsbury Primary won second place with The Revival and St Angela’s 3rd with A Wish for Peace. St Angela’s School took first place for Small Vocal Ensemble Primary and Best Overall Small Vocal Ensemble Performance for their original piece entitled Recycling Round.
Performing using instruments made out of recycling materials, the jingle instructed listeners on the joys and benefits of recycling.
Solo Vocal for the primary schools went to Trinity Clarke of Trinity Academy. The daughter of local songstress Kareen Clarke delivered a powerful rendition of My Redeemer Lives. The Trinity Academy student actively engaged the audience as she brought down the house during her performance.
Second place in Solo Vocal Primary went to Rashanna Britton of Hindsbury Primary who sang No More Nights and Jenina Neverson of Bay Primary singing What a Wonderful World received third place in the category.
The trio from St Luke’s/Brighton Primary were feeling the music as they performed Flying Free on recorder. Dancing with the music and showing great fervour in their delivery worked for these little ones as they got the first prize for Small Instrumental Ensemble.
Despite its long run, the event highlighted the range of talent and the future rising stars of Barbados’ cultural sector. Although it ended on a high note, poor audio, technical difficulties and waiting between performances, left a lot to be desired.