Naps Girls (B) edge Naps Girls (A) as best junior choir

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

WINNERS: Naparima Girls’ High School Jr Choir (B), perform in the Jr Choirs (15 & Under) in the Music Festival at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando on Tuesday. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

WHAT does it take to beat a Naps Girls choir? Another Naps Girls choir!

A large and keen audience on Tuesday filled Naparima Bowl, San Fernando to three-quarters capacity to soak up the second day of the south-central Trinidad leg of the 2024 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival. Younger pupils – from primary school level and lower secondary school – shone as solos, duets and choirs.

Despite all entrants in each class singing the same test piece, they did so with great gusto, amid varying levels of execution.

After pupils each performed their solos of The Cupboard, adjudicator Nadine Gonzales invited all on stage to sing together, to the audience’s delight.

Likewise she asked all choir members, wherever seated in the auditorium, to jointly sing their test piece, with a message of collaboration amid competition.

Four large school choirs of 30-40 pupils contested the under-15 junior choir class, plus a small choir from newcomers Oak Preparatory Private School.

They sang the uplifting song, The World Is A Rainbow by Greg Sclesa.

Naparima Girls High School Junior Choir A gave a performance that was out of this world. A divine blend of fresh, clear, young voices.

“Now you be you and I’ll be me,” they sang, a blend of voices creating waves of musical swells. Oh such sweetness!

Naps Girls Choir B came on next, with slightly older girls. While choir A had offered in the musical freshness of their young years, the voices of choir B pupils were slightly heavier and stronger.

“The world is a rainbow,” choir B sang, each pupil waving her arm overhead in a big arc.

Naparima College offered the rare sight of a boys choir, of many junior school pupils, to their credit, varied types of voice singing in unison.

Two primary schools also vied. Anstey Memorial Girls Anglican opened the class with its very large choir, and Oak School closed the class with about 20 pupils.

Adjudicator Nadine Gonzales awarded in order Naps Girls B choir 90 marks out of 100 (winners), Naps Girls A choir 88, Anstey 78, Naparima College 72, and Oak 70.

She praised the schools’ music teachers for their hard work to gather many different voices into a choir, amid the competing demands of school work.

“I must say the competition in south is very strong,” she remarked.

Gonzales praised Oak for a very good effort. “You needed a more unified tone at times. The blend was fair, not a good blend but a very, very good effort.

“A more rounded tone needed overall.”

Naparima Girls’ High School Jn Choir (A) which was beaten into second place by Naps Girls Choir (B) on Tuesday during the Music Festival at the Naparima Bowl. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Naparima College had made a “really good effort”, she said. “A more rounded tone needed at times. More expression needed. It was good for the most part.

“A little more shape needed for the phrases but a very good effort.”

She said Anstey school had “very good potential,” but could aim for more rounded voices.

Gonzales showed how to round their voices, saying, “Hi, how are you?” in a flat tone and then with her mouth rounded to produce a fuller sound.

“Round your lips a little more,” she advised.

Gonzales praised Naps Girls for two very strong choirs.

She praised Naps choir A, saying, “Beautiful tone. Well-controlled voices.”

She said they must watch their final consonants, especially if an “s” or “t”.

“Good job for the most part. Good rounded vowels. Good blend.”

Gonzales said Naps choir B had a beautiful tone. “Well-rounded voices. Good control. Lovely upper notes. Watch out for that ‘s’.

“Good blend. Good diction. Ninety.” The crowd erupted into applause. She said all pupils had “done extremely well.”

Gonzales had members of all choirs sing together from their seats, quipping they couldn’t all fit on stage.

Naparima teacher Reanna Edwards-Paul told Newsday that Naps Choir B had older pupils than Choir A.

“So the more experienced singers are the ones who won, which is usually what happens.

“They just had the finesse – the pronunciation and the diction and stuff – gave them the upper edge they had. They had more finesse because they are older and they are more trained.”

Newsday asked how she had created such beautiful music. She said, “There are directions on the song itself which you have to follow. The song tells you when to be louder and when to be softer, and the judge is watching that. So we have to follow what is on the score to get all the marks.”

“Every child is intentionally positioned, to create the perfect blend of voices. We can’t put loud singers in front because you will just hear their voices. So we put the louder singers in the back and the softer ones in front to create a blend, very intentional.”

She surmised, “There was so much work that goes into it, it was very nice to see the rewards of your work. Even if they didn’t win, I would have been happy because we did our best.”

Naps Choir A pupil Arisa Ramsaran was very happy with their performance. She said the choir’s sopranos sang one melody and the altos another, both sections then harmonising.

“I think it was really, really good.” Her mother, Melissa Ramsaran said the choirs were excellent.

“It was amazing having two teams from the same school compete against each other. They really stood apart and were well executed.”

Naps Choir B pupil Satya Dilchan told Newsday, “It was quite fun. It was very enjoyable. It was so nice to see it all come together, especially singing afterwards all together.”

“There were alto sections and soprano sections and I feel they blended together very nicely and we did as best as we could. I think it was all well and there was nothing more we could have asked for.” Naps Choir B pupil Shweta Ramlogan said, “I thought it was really good. I think it came together really well, especially with the different voices and to get certain parts we were struggling with. I think we got it.” Naps Choir B pupil Shivanie Ramkhelawan said both choirs A and B had sung amazingly.

“Just to see everything come together as one, after all these months of practising and every part we thought we would not do well in, through practising everything came together very beautifully.”

CREDITABLE PERFORMANCE: The Oak Preparatory Primary School performs in the Junior Choirs (15 & Under) on Tuesday at the Music Festival. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Oak music teacher Gilleyne Sandy told Newsday, “This has been their first performance and first time they came together as a choir entering a competition. We are keeping it going and will continue to push on and do well.” Two Oak pupils, a boy and a girl, said they had enjoyed being on-stage and had not felt scared.