Celebrations for an action packed Nobel Laureate Week commenced over the weekend and on Monday, January 23 the National Cultural Centre was the scene for the annual National Schools Choir Competition. Young voices came together to create catchy melodies as students from primary and secondary schools battled it out to see who would steal the top spot.
From the beginning it was clear tremendous effort had gone into each school’s preparation all in the hopes of emerging champion at the prestigious event. In some cases the connection between the students and their choirmasters was unmistakable, as in the case of one of the earlier performing primary schools, Anse La Raye.
Participating schools included Ave Maria, Dame Pearlette Louisy, Anse La Raye, Richfond Combined and Laborie Boys on the primary school level, St Joseph’s Covent, St Mary’s College, Bocage, Leon Hess and the SDA Academy representing secondary schools on the island. Prior to the final round of competition ten schools from primary and ten from secondary competed to see who would make it to the finals.
After some brief welcome remarks from Jason Joseph, curriculum specialist for music it was time for the introduction of judges. The panel included Blaise Pascal, a professional tenor and voice coach, Deanna Clarke, former lecturer at the St Lucia School of Music and David Bode, head of the wind department at the St Lucia School of Music.
Without further ado it was time for each school to prove their worth and from the onset it was clear students came out determined to let their passion for music shine through and represent their schools to the fullest. Students came on with pasted on smiles and whether choirmasters had to remind them to or not some literally seemed unable to wipe smiles that didn’t do much to hide nerves and excitement off their faces.
Ave Maria Primary was first up with a test piece entitled “Song For the Children” that each school was required to sing, then a choice piece. Dame Pearlette Louisy was up next and in their choice piece students had the audience bumping to their take of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”
Anse La Raye Primary blew the audience away literally with their performance that could best be described as phenomenal and well rehearsed. “Shut de door keep out the devil… light a candle everything’s alright,” students rendered, as they went on without losing the attention of the audience in any part of their performance. Their rendition of “Shut De Door” stayed true to the cultural feel present in most school performances.
After two more performances on the primary school level, including one by Richfond Combined then a quite harmonious and humorous Laborie Boys School with “Teef Take Over Town,” it was time for an effortless transition to the secondary school side of the competition. St Joseph’s Convent was up first with quite a large showing, leading the way into St Mary’s College’s versatile showpiece that included lines from Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” Bocage and Leon Hess Comprehensive were up next, then came first timers SDA Academy with a gospel choice piece entitled “Sold Out.”
Individual guest performances by Banse La Grace Combined and Camille Henry Memorial School choirs followed, then it was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Regardless of the results, the master of ceremonies Lizberth Pitcairn urged all to take in the positive messages from each song. In her vote of thanks Priscilla Lucien left students with the message to continue singing with passion because “when you sing with passion people can see your soul.”
With 372 points, Ave Maria secured third place on the primary school level. Laborie Boys was second with 386 while Anse La Raye secured quite a deserving win with 401 points. Leon Hess was third with 380.5 points on the secondary school side of things, followed by Bocage Secondary with 385 points and winners St Joseph’s Convent with 394 points.