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THE NATIONAL SINFONIA ORCHESTRA
The National Sinfonia Orchestra (NSO) was formed in 2004 by the Orchestral Society of Trinidad and Tobago (OSTT). This group comprises people who are still at school; school teachers; private sector associates, members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Band and members of the medical profession. With just one day of rehearsal per week, and after an intensive annual August workshop, the NSO, directed by Jessel Murray has distinguished itself by its ability to play any part of the orchestral canon.
Since its debut at the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival, the NSO has performed extensively in collaboration with the UWI Arts Chorale and other leading other choral organisations and solo artistes within Trinidad and Tobago.
Through its seasons of quarterly concerts, the Orchestra has firmly established itself as the premier Trinidad and Tobago ensemble for solo works with traditional orchestra, and works for traditional orchestra overall. When the NSO supplied the accompaniment for the UWI Arts Chorale production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in 2009, one reviewer wrote that the NSO, “sounded like a recording of a CD” and the group has now assisted in setting “a standard of musical theatre for other local productions to follow”.
In addition to its Classical repertoire, the NSO has also performed calypsos by Mark Loquan which have been arranged by Liam Teague. International performers such as Malaysian concert pianist Sothie Paul-Duraisamy and Vincentian Sean Sutherland, as well as leading performers from Trinidad and Tobago, such as Marlon De Bique, Michele Dowrich, Turon Nicholas, Rellon Brown, and the UWI Arts Chorale, have become regular performers with this vibrant group.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL STEEL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO), conducted by Jessel Murray, was formed in late 2007 under the auspices of the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs and is comprised of thirty-five of the country’s finest steelpan players who were auditioned both for the high quality of their technical skills and for their reading abilities. Daily rehearsals have allowed the Orchestra to build up a sizeable repertoire of local and international Classical music; Latin repertoire, Jazz and Calypso standards.
This Orchestra (NSSO) exclusively utilises the Genesis Pans (“G” pans) which were developed at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, by a team lead by national award winner Professor Brian Copeland, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.
In just eighteen months of their formation the NSSO has performed extensively within Trinidad and Tobago at sites including Queen’s Hall, the Naparima Bowl and the University of the West Indies. In 2008, they performed to a sold out concert at Carifesta X in Guyana and in 2009 they performed at the 5th Summit of the Americas where they played for the 34 Heads of State and Government at the Hyatt Regional Hotel, Port-of-Spain. The orchestra has also participated in command performances for Prince Charles of the United Kingdom and for King Juan Carlos of Spain.
ABOUT THE SOLOISTS
Sean Sutherland was born in St. Vincent where he began his musical studies with Lois Williams. After progressing through the graded examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), Sean was offered a scholarship to study in England after gaining a high distinction at the Grade 8 Piano practical exam at the age of 15. Sean, however, did not take up the scholarship (under strong parental advisement not having yet set O'levels) but, instead, eventually pursued majors in Music and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Sutherland further pursued private studies, at the Mannes School of Music, and he has taken participated in numerous masterclasses with many world renowned pianists and teachers.
Sean has performed as a soloist and in collaborations across the Caribbean and in North America. Sean recently moved to Montreal, Canada, after spending almost three years in Trinidad lecturing in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies.
Michelle Dowrich is an outstanding mezzo-soprano soloist who has is a multiple winner at the Trinidad and Tobago Music Festivals; and a leading soloist with the Southernaires. She is the also the resident organist at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in San Fernando and she is the music teacher at St. Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando where she has guided her choirs to many first place finishes at the Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival. Ms. Dowrich, a graduate of the UWI Festival Arts Music programme, has performed on numerous occasions with the National Sinfonia Orchestra and in has also performed in concert with the Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Symphony Orchestra.
ABOUT THE MUSIC DIRECTOR
Jessel Murray graduated from Temple University (Philadelphia) with an undergraduate degree in music education (piano and voice) summa cum laude and he also completed his Master’s degree there in conducting with advanced studies in piano accompanying. He further studied choral/orchestral conducting with Bach specialist Helmut Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival in Oregon, USA and also studied orchestral conducting with Harold Faberman at the Conductors’ Institute at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.
Praised for the adventurism of his programming and his musical precision in performances, Mr. Murray enjoys an international career as conductor; piano and vocal coach, piano accompanist and adjudicator. Besides his duties as Music Director of the National Sinfonia Orchestra, he is a Lecturer in Choral and Vocal Music at the Department for Creative and Festival Arts, U.W.I., St. Augustine where among other duties he conducts the UWI Arts Chorale and co-directs the UWI Festival Steel Ensemble. Mr. Murray is also the music director of the Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO).
Mr. Murray has served on the faculties of Smith College and Amherst Regional High School (USA) and the University of the Southern Caribbean; and served as the Music Director of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts Musical productions for six years. Among the honours that he has received are Massachusetts Arts Educator of the Year (2000) and Cacique Awards (2006) for Best Musical Direction and Best Musical Production for Fiddler on the Roof, and Best Musical Production for Oliver! (2007) from the National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
American Gary Gibson, the first place winner of the ‘Overture’ category of the Methanex ‘Symphony and Steel’ competition, is a classically trained composer and percussionist who has been heavily influenced by West Indian rhythms and American Jazz. Gibson even undertook a two month Sabbatical to Trinidad in 2004 to perform with Exodus as part of the Panorama competition and since then he has used the steelpan as his primary mode of jazz improvisation.
The Caprice was awarded first place in the ‘Overture’ category of the Methanex competition ‘Symphony and Steel’. The composer dedicated the work to steelpan innovator, Ellie Mannette, who he said, had dreamed of a day when steelpan instruments would be part of the symphonic orchestra. The composer describes his work as one which contains three interlocking themes: first, a light and lyrical phrase, then, a second more jocular and rhythmic, which is the most insistent; and finally a broad dreamlike motif. The orchestration of this work is the traditional four groups of instruments, including an enhanced percussion section, plus a full consort of “G” pans.
Rainorama............Aldwyn Roberts/arr. Gary Gibson
In 1972 Carnival preparations were proceeding in a traditional fashion when news came of a polio outbreak. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago cancelled all events, including Carnival. However, the public, in a rare show of unity, vented their displeasure in such measure that the celebrations were shifted to the cusp of the rainy season in May of that year. In the following year, Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) immortalised that wet and rainy carnival in his ‘Rainorama’. So successful was that Calypso with its tag line “Rain come and wash out Mas in May” that it became the runaway Road March in 1973.
Gary Gibson’s arrangement of ‘Rainorama’ was the first prize winner of the ‘Calypso Arrangement’ category of the Methanex ‘Symphony and Steel’ competition. The work is scored for traditional symphonic orchestra with the inclusion of a consort of “G” pans.
Programme notes compiled by Jessel Murray
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