Curiosity, as the old adage goes, was the demise of the cat. It is also the driving mechanism which fuels one to try, and leads to the recognition of talents while giving birth to great ideas and accomplishments. This week’s HYPE personality exemplifies that sentiment.
Hailing from humble beginnings, Ronnley Gordon is an aspiring musician from Chaupain in Bexon. A Form 4 student of the Ciceron Secondary School, the 16-year-old lives with his grandmother and nephew. An avid lover of music, Ronnley became intrigued by the cello. Ever since then his life has been music centered around the stringed instrument, and he explained to me how it has changed his life.
“My friend Al made mention of it to me and I became really interested. I always asked him questions about it and told him I wanted to join the orchestra. He eventually signed me up with the Marchand Youth Orchestra and that’s where I learnt to play the cello.
“There were other violins available but Al had already notified the instructors of my interest in the cello and they allowed me to use it. I had built such a genuine interest for the instrument that I never even considered the violin or viola.
” Orchestra teacher at the Saint Lucia School of Music, Marie Medina has witnessed the evolution of Ronnley as a cello player and music student.
“Ronnley joined the Marchand Orchestra in 2010 and he advanced very quickly. Within one year we promoted him to be a part of the Saint Lucia School of Music Chamber Orchestra. And the Chamber Orchestra is for advanced members only. He clearly had a very innate ability to play the cello, so we put him alongside the most talented and interested students at the school.
“He is one of the best cello players, and he has an excellent ear. I’ve noticed that he loves to improvise. He picks up his cello and plays by just listening to others play and following them; he picks up notes fairly easily and I think he’s naturally gifted. And that’s essentially what happened with the Alternative Quartet,” Medina declared.
Ronnley says that playing with the Alternative Quartet was one of the best experiences of his life. The group was scheduled to perform at the recently concluded Jazz and Arts Festival on Friday May 9, and visited the school a day prior. He impressed the group within a one-hour workshop and was invited to perform with the group at Pigeon Island.
“The group’s piano player was playing a few notes on the piano when Ronnley sat next to him and played along with his cello. They were very pleased with him,” Medina said.
Ronnley described his first taste of performing at main stage jazz and being able to accomplish that as a teenager.
“I was nervous while I was backstage, and when it was time to go on stage it was like a different feeling altogether. The guy on the piano gave me my cue but I missed it. I looked back at him and he tried his best to help me keep my composure. He cued me again and this time I watched the cellist from the band and I played in along with him. And as we played I started to feel more and more comfortable and confident and I was able to have a great time.”
Ronnley was one of ten students chosen to travel to Venezuela to receive training at the Simon Bolivar Foundation, more commonly known as El Sistema, an internationally recognized music education program. For ten days they participated in the regular daily activities of students their own age learning several cello and violin techniques.
“It was my first time travelling so I was very excited, not only because I was travelling but also getting the chance go to El Sistema which is very popular around the world. I got to meet the founder of El Sistema, Jose Antonio Abreu, and that was a very memorable occasion for me.”
Currently, Ronnley is a business student studying seven CXC subjects. “I would love to be a professional cellist and a music teacher. In terms of other fields, I’d like to be an Engineer.” Medina says that Ronnley has been so dedicated that after school he’s either at the School of Music or at the Marchand Youth Orchestra. He is willing help teach the younger cello students and already mentors at the Marchand Youth Orchestra.
“When I’m at home I study but most of the time I am practicing on my cello. I’m also an altar server at the Bexon Parish and I sometimes play the bass guitar at church.”
He says music is about three quarters of his life now, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I used to play football, but the cello and music have opened doors for me and basically taken over my life.”
The STAR agrees with Teacher Medina that a talent like Ronnley’s should be properly nurtured, developed and offered the right opport-unities to shine.
I for one look forward to seeing him perform onstage at Carnegie Hall some day soon.