All glad to be at Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rolando Nurse of Fatima College, sings his way to third place at the TT Music Festival, in the Boys Vocal Solo, 16-19 years on Wednesday. – Angelo Marcelle

PUPILS, parents and teachers were all glad to attend Wednesday’s session of the 2024 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, they variously told Newsday.

On show were boys vocal solos (7-10, 13-15, and 16-19 years), girls vocal duets for 13-15 years, and primary school choirs (13 years and under).

Dozens of parents supported their children’s primary school choirs, although afterwards attendance dipped to about 30 people for the solos and duets.

Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne told Newsday, “Two of my children (Michael and Sophia) are performing this afternoon, so I am here to support. It is their first time at Music Festival. We have a good tradition of singers in the family, although I am not one of them.

“I am very proud they are showcasing their talents today. I am here to support them and the other children.”

Dr Carla Noel-Mendez, corporate affairs manager at Woodside Trinidad, told Newsday she fully supported the festival.

“So much talent has come through this Music Festival – Kees Dieffenthaller and so many others. So we need to support them.

Gabriel Marin of Fatima College, sings his way to 2nd place at the TT Music Festival, in the Boys Vocal Solo, 16-19 years on Wednesday. – Angelo Marcelle

“Well done to all the young talent. It is the first time this young talent is getting onto a stage. We need to encourage our young people. I take my hats off. I hope it goes from strength to strength.”

Rene Nurse, mother of pupil Rolando Nurse (third-placed in the boys solo 16-19), recalled her son had overcome nerves.

“He had told me ‘Mummy, I’m kind of nervous’. But I said, “Why? Queen’s Hall is your second home. You used to come here for camp, every year. You had speaking parts, you had singing parts, so you know Queen’s Hall like the back of your hand. I think that kind of calmed him down.’

“I told him, when you go our there just pretend everybody in the crowd is naked. Just block it (nervousness) out.”

Pupil Gabriel Marin, who placed second in the boys solo 16-19, told Newsday he felt exhilarated and was glad to represent Fatima College.

Liam Gooding of Fatima College, sings his way to first place at the TT Music Festival, in the Boys Vocal Solo, 16-19 years on Wednesday. – Angelo Marcelle

“I am so glad I could have made it to be here in spite of being in form five and having mock exams. I am glad I could use it to help.

“I felt powerful on that stage. I felt I was ready to give all my emotion.” After it is was hard to balance studies and singing, he replied “no”, as one of his CSEC subjects was music.

Reflecting on he and two colleagues (Nurse and Liam Gooding) singing on Wednesday, Marin said, “We were just so supportive of each other. I genuinely wish Liam the best for the championships and hope he could bring it home.”

Gooding had placed first in the catetgory.

Marin highly regarded fourth-placed Lamar Alleyne. “Lamar is definitely going places. I see my teacher trying to recruit him for form six!”

After Maria Regina’s win for best primary school choir, Joshua Joseph (who is music teacher alongside Natasha Babwah-Tim Kee) told Newsday, “I am elated. I am emotional. I am in tears. I am excited.”

He said pre-pandemic, the school had placed second in this category, and now had a mix of new and returning members. “I am just in awe, so proud of the children.

“We rehearsed twice a week, 40-45 minutes each for the past five weeks, and previously last term before the Christmas break.

“I think it proves the choir is something worth being in. A lot of times it is viewed as an extra curricular hobby, but the soft skills and holistic development a child gets in a choir – to have confidence, discipline and working towards a shared goal – the experience today cemented this.

“It is not about competitions or being the next big star, but exploring musically together, building and developing your musical skills in a safe space.”