School Of Music Needs $

Series Of Concert To Fund programmes


IN its major push to raise much-needed funds to finance its music programmes, the St. Lucia School of Music (SLSM) is staging several benefit concerts aimed at giving the public some of the world’s best sounds.

The music school held its second such concert on February 27 at Golden Palm Event Centre at Rodney Heights. Patrons were treated to an evening of Brazilian music and the artiste featured that evening was Brazilian composer/arranger/recording artiste, Wagner Trinidade, who currently teaches classes in guitar at the Saint Lucia School of Music. Other musicians for the evening were Shayne Ross, Lorena Guillen, Alejandro Rutty, Richard Payne, Fernando Martinez Lopez, Anderson Charles and Keitje Greaves.

Trinidade, an acclaimed musician, gave patrons an elegant blend of original compositions based on Brazilian music styles such as Frevo, Baiāo and Maracatú as well as standards of the bossa nova and samba.

Richard Payne, Executive Director, St. Lucia School of Music, told The VOICE that the prime location of the venue gives SLSM the opportunity to achieve its targets. Since the first concert featuring Argentine tango music was held last November, Payne said the school needed to build on that musical momentum.

“Basically, we’re trying to enhance our education offerings by allowing our students to see high-quality performances as well as to raise much-needed funds for the school, particularly to support our social outreach programmes,” Payne said.

Payne said many of the school’s music programmes have received major cuts in funding. He said groups such the Marchand Youth Orchestra are facing an uncertain future right now, adding that the Marchand Youth Orchestra has inspired the creation of many such programmes.

“They have demonstrated the power of music as a vehicle for social change. The third aim of these concerts is to make some contributions to enhancing the cultural landscape by offering performances from all over the world by inviting our friends from those countries to do benefit concerts,” Payne explained.

Over the years, SLSM’s faculty has been comprised of musicians from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, United States, United Kingdom, Georgia (formerly a part of the Soviet Union), among others. Payne sees this as a plus since it gives the students first-hand experience of being taught by and performing alongside internationally-renowned musicians.

“I think it’s the first time in the school’s history that there are great music educators who are also great performers,” Payne said. “So we felt the need to use these teachers to not only inspire our students but also give them the opportunity to be on that stage. However, those students have to work very hard to be on that stage.”

Payne described the venue as “small and intimate”, adding that so far all of the concerts have practically sold out which, he said, demonstrates the public’s very high interest in entertainment alternatives.

The music school hopes to stage one concert either each month or every two months being keen on giving audiences a very diverse range and mix of music. The next concert will be an evening of Mozart, while the subsequent concert will be an evening of traditional jazz.

Payne said that while the music school remains grateful to the government of Saint Lucia for its support over the years, the faculty has recognized that the government is also facing its share of fiscal challenges. Nevertheless, he said that in light of the gains the school has made over the years, the faculty remains convinced that music is a solution to many social issues. He said the recent relationship SLSM established with El Sistema (National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela) demonstrates that music is a very positive way of getting children to have meaningful and transferrable skills so that they can become employable.

Lack of adequate funding has hit the music school hard, compromising the programmes, resulting in limitations in terms of instruments that need to be purchased or replaced. Teachers also need to be paid. Making difficult choices has become the order of the day at the Tapion-based music school where the expectation is that everything musical must be taught.

“So the question is to determine what we can do best. We can’t do everything but I think that in a difficult environment we are making progress, much of it thanks to the support of both the public and private sectors,” Payne said.

Tertiary level scholarships for music education are also of prime importance for SLSM. Thus far, there has been a heavy reliance on teachers from overseas. As good as that is Payne said that as a national school, SLSM needs to be able to train Saint Lucian music teachers who upon their return can take students to the next level.

“It’s not easy but we are trying to forge our own path by trying to create links and build relationships. Hopefully, through a combination of what we’re doing now we’ll be able to realize some results. In the future, we want to start having concerts specially dedicated to raising funds to meet the costs of tertiary level scholarships.”

For now, though, Payne and his staff are hoping that SLSM’s music concerts being held at Golden Palm Event Centre stimulates more interest and generates more support so as to realize the school’s goals.

The next music concert, “Gordon Lee Jazz Experience”, is slated for Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. and will feature Gordon Lee, Wagner Trinidade, Alejandro Rutty, Fernando Martinez Lopez, Amie Lee, Andrey Nicholson and SLSM students.

A Sunday, March 29 concert, “A Mozart Experience”, will feature Natalie Chakhalashvali, as well as Anderson Charles, Andrew Moses, John Louis, Lorena Guillen, Chung Young, and selected piano students from SLSM. That concert will begin at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on SLSM’s upcoming concerts call 452 2473.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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