Little girls brave big stage to sing solo 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

SOME 18 girls on Monday braved the big stage of Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, to stand alone to deliver a rendition in the girls’ vocal solo age 7-10 years on the test piece, The Cupboard by Walter de la Mare and Dorothy Park. Just as for some of their male counterparts last week, the size of the auditorium proved somewhat challenging in terms of them being able to make themselves heard, but they each nonetheless soldiered on to complete their song. From this semifinal, eight were chosen to move on to the final. These are Allana Williams, Amaya De Leon, Aradhya Navuru, Ariah St Hilaire, Faith Joseph, Kristen Castagne, La Shawna Joseph and Norah Reid.

The girls sang of their aspirations to gain the key to their fictional grandmother’s cupboard full of lollipops and cakes.

Williams, in a pretty pink dress, offered audible diction plus very good gesticulations.

De Leon, although small, had a very good stage presence and projected her voice sufficiently loudly although her diction could have been a bit clearer.

St Hilaire gave a very cute performance, with her lively hand gestures.

Castagne offered a very skilled vibrato at the end of each of her lines.

Reid might have been small on the big stage but kept herself calm and cool to offer a very clear diction, accompanied by great hand gestures.

Adjudicator Nadine Gonzales in delivering the results told the girls that some of them had needed to project their voices more.

She said many needed to offer more vocal expressiveness and more dynamics in their rendition.

Gonzales said if the piece begins at “mezzo-piano” (that is, medium soft) but then later dips down to “piano” (soft), then if the girls start off singing at a low volume when they move on to piano, they would be inaudible. She advised, “Tweak a bit and come again. You gained experience and you gained knowledge.”

Newsday later spoke to La Shawna Joseph, Norah Reid and Kristen Castagne.

Asked how her experience had been performing, Joseph replied, “It was okay. I enjoyed it. I really want to do it again.”

She said she had not been nervous, as she had already sung at Queen’s Hall in the preliminaries for this class.

Joseph said she had sung in the Moulton Hall Methodist School choir last week at the festival.

“I enjoy making my own music. I just make up my own.” She said she had practised on her mother’s keyboard.

Reid told Newsday, “I was very nervous and excited at the same time. And it went really well!

Asked if she had practised a lot, she confirmed, “I had practised a lot.”

Newsday asked how she had felt stepping onto the stage and looking out at everyone in the audience.

Reid replied, “Oh my gosh, I was shaking. I was so nervous!”

Newsday asked if she had any tricks to cope with her nervousness.

Reid replied, “I was not really nervous all the time. I said I am going to try my best and enjoy the moment because it is a nice experience.

The Maria Regina Grade School pupil said, “I moved on to the finals.”

Castagne, also from Maria Regina, told Newsday, “I did not feel nervous. I felt proud of what I was doing and I believed in myself.”

Newsday asked her trick for not feeling nervous on stage.

She said, “I don’t have any. I just performed in front of people before.”

Castagne had been singing for four years, since age five.

Her mother, Nalini Castagne, said the family never knew she could sing but had only found out through her playing the piano.

“She has been playing the piano since she was three years old. And she started singing the piano pieces together with playing it on the piano.

“Then one day at a piano camp, a teacher sent us a video and he said, ‘Hey, Kristen could sing!’

“We looked at it at home and realised she could sing and recently we decided to join her in on vocals.”

The mother said Castagne was the great-granddaughter of Patrick Castagne, the man who wrote TT’s national anthem, remarking, “Part of the family legacy.”

Afterwards, Newsday spoke to two of the roughly 100 audience members who both said they enjoyed the event but wished the public attendance had been higher.