A number of students from secondary schools across the island will participate in a major National School’s Extempo competition here next month, the first of its kind. This was disclosed at the launch of the event which took place on Saturday, June 15 at the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF).
Extempo is an art-form involving a lyrically improvised form of “live” Calypso singing. It consists of performers using rhythmic speech on a given theme and Extempo is inherently competitive. Competitors are judged by the wit and ingenuity of the performance. The song itself is characterized by the “single tone,” consisting of four-line stanzas or the “double tone,” which has eight-line stanzas and there are four basic melodies to Extempo. The most popular however is the “Santimanitay.”
At last Saturday’s launch, students were exposed to the basics of Extempo. Head facilitator and former Calypso Monarch “Controller,” told the STAR the event is being organized to give young persons another avenue to express themselves through traditional and cultural art forms.
“The idea behind the entity organizing this event is to revamp the various forms of Calypso traditions and to take it to various parts of the island,” Controller said.
“Rough Rhythms,” the entertainment outfit behind the event was started by veteran performer “De Invader,” in 2001. The Secondary School Extempo competition has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Creative Industries with the main sponsor being Construction and Industrial Equiptment Limited (CIE).
During Saturday’s launch, former Extempo Monarch Ezi Hall delivered the welcome remarks in song. Remarks were also put forth by Christopher Hunte, consultant in the Ministry of Creative Industries, and Gandolph St Clair of the CDF. Former Calypso Monarch and music curriculum specialist with the Ministry of Education, Jason “Bachelor” Joseph, represented that body.
Invader on Saturday spoke of the long-term rewards and skills students could derive from Extempo, also announcing the prizes for the event. The first prize for the competition is EC$1000, a trophy and an iPad. EC$500, a guitar and a trophy will be awarded for second place. An appearance fee will be paid to all competitors.
Saturday’s event was also addressed by head judge Linus Herelle while Scaby Lancaster spoke on melody and singing on key. Students were also exposed to rhyming skills, use of the microphone, wit and satire, how to interact with the audience and project one’s voice on stage.
Two more workshops will be held at the CDF, the first next Saturday, June 22 and the final on Saturday, June 29. The event takes place on Sunday, July 7 at the National Cultural Center.