Fatima, St Francis Girls’ top choirs at Music Festival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, Port of Spain. – Photo courtesy Queen’s Hall

FATIMA College and Belmont St Francis Girls’ RC School on Monday each gave scintillating performances to be recognised as the country’s best junior choirs, respectively, in the 19 years and under and 15 years and under categories. Unfortunately, each was the only entrant in their respective class.

Fatima was awarded 97 marks out of 100 for Michael, Row The Boat Ashore, and St Francis 86 out of 100 for The World is a Rainbow by Greg Scelsa.

Fatima’s presentation was very stirring and vigorous, with many moving parts within the rendition. The choir was trained by Kwasi Noel.

Adjudicator Nadine Gonzales said they had done “very well” with the test piece.

She lauded, “Congratulations. Very well-rounded, balanced tone. Well-placed voices.

“I looked at the balance between the soloist (Gabriel Marin) and the choir and the balance was good. At all points, you were able to hear your soloist. Congratulations.”

The St Francis girls together swayed and sang, blending their voices very sweetly.

“The world is a rainbow, With many kinds of people/It takes all kinds of people, To make the world go round,” they sang.

The girls’ emotive performance – bordering on tear-jerking – did justice to the song’s life-affirming message that hopefully will be heard widely in TT.

St Francis music teacher Mariam Jones-Sprott later told Newsday, “The girls worked really hard. And it paid off.

“There were different melodies, harmonies, blends, you know. It takes a myriad of different skills in order for the choir to synchronise.”

Jones-Sprott said she had been conducting her choir on-stage.

“I was trying to make sure they stayed where they were supposed to be – the different sections – bring out their parts and harmonise and stuff.”

She quipped that it took a lot of work on her part because the girls like to talk non-stop.

“But it paid off.”

Newsday asked if she had any messages to other schools regarding musical participation.

“I would like to send a message to parents. It is important for children to participate in extra-curricular activities because it helps with their overall brain development and the children’s overall performance. Don’t stop them.”

Jones-Sprott said one of her top pupils had been pulled out from music, heading into the SEA exams, by a parent who feared it would hurt her academics.

“I encouraged him, ‘Do not do that’ because she has this talent and it only would enhance her ability to perform later on in life.”

Supporting extracurricular activities like sports even near exam time, she said, “It creates a balance and it takes a lot of stress off of them. Some parents need to understand that.

“You need to create that balance. If they are very good at what they do, push them. You do not know where they could end up in life.”

Asked if she would like to see more schools to give her pupils competition at the Music Festival, she said yes.

“I would encourage all schools to get their children involved. Not all are academically inclined and some of them have this talent.

“For example, one of my pupils has a myriad of learning challenges, so you would see I would put her on the stage and then go down in the front row of seats so she can focus on me. She got into the semifinal round in her solo category.”