by Kamilah Cadogan

It was hot! Both literally and figuratively. But the problem with the air conditioning at the Wildey Gymnasium did not in any way detract from the sizzling and stellar performances by the primary and secondary schools in this year’s Schools Choir Competition finals.

Hundreds filled the indoor stadium and were treated to very dynamic and soul stirring performances from the island’s youth.

Hindsbury Primary started the show and set the bar incredibly high with a spiritual medley of God and God Alone and You Are God Alone. Their performance included sign language and a fog machine to set the tone. You Are God Alone was sung with a reggae arrangement, accompanied by a steel pannist and the words of the song were changed to focused on current issues. The girls’ voices harmonised beautifully and their rendition was well received.

Mount Tabor performed a gospel medley of Down By The Riverside, This Little Light Of Mine and He Knows My Name. Their soloist, Leandre Weeks, had such a sweet, fine voice that she earned the Best Soloist Award for the primary schools. It was obvious that the children really enjoy performing, especially during their choreography for This Little Light of Mine.

Cuthbert Moore took everyone back to church with their Revival Time medley of old time gospel songs, including A Little Moore Oil In My Lamp. One of the choir members was even beating a tambourine, making the performance truly authentic and earning them the Most Dynamic Choir Award among all the primary schools. The audience was clapping and singing along with the choir as all the songs were familiar.

The performance of Our Environment by Ignatius Byer was outstanding. The students did not only just sing the words, but their facial expressions showed that they truly understood what they were singing. This was the aim of director Hugh Griffith, who took away the award for Best Director in the primary school category as well as the Composer Award.

The other primary schools in the finals were Roland Edwards, Arthur Smith, St. Luke’s Brighton, St. Philip Primary, Gordon Walters (winners of Best Arrangement), and St. Matthew’s Primary.

When the scores were tabulated, Ignatius Byer were named winners and also received the award for Best Rendition. Mount Tabor placed second and were named the Most Improved Choir, while Hindsbury took third place.

After intermission, Queen’s College gave a rousing rendition of If I Tell God, accompanied by a live student band. Their high energy performance involved a number of key changes that were executed to perfection and produced loud cheers from the crowd.

The inter-school athletic championships this year may be hanging in the balance but that did not prevent Springer Memorial from sprinting out of the blocks with their stellar performance of Let Everything. Not only were their harmonies pitch perfect but the girls put their all into the performance, leaving everyone breathless. Directed by the energetic Dave Jackman, the girls had the audience on their feet at the end and Jackman was named the Best Director as he had the choir like puppets on strings with their choreography.

Deighton Griffith performed local hit Beautiful Surprise which started with a duet by Nicolas Scott and Leah Bacchus, who received the best soloist award. Their performance was sweet and soulful and it was indeed a beautiful surprise as Phillip 7, original performer of the song, joined the choir on stage to a chorus of screams.

Although smaller in number than the other three, the Lester Vaughan School choir performed Ride On King Jesus. Given the youthfulness of its members, this choir will have lots of time to make their presence felt in this competition.

When the dust settled, Springer Memorial were named the winners and also received several prizes — Most Dynamic Choir, Most Improved and Best Arrangement. Queen’s College placed second, also receiving the Best Rendition award with Deighton Griffith placing third.

There were three guest performances, the first from two violinists from Junior Strings, Wesley Morris and Myles Gittens, both 15 years old. There was also a dance from the St. George Primary Stars choreographed by Oral Welchman. Primary and secondary school participants in the Cultural and Historical Exposure for Kids in School, or CHEKS, programme gave the audience a tuk band, Landship and stilt walking performance. But everyone will most certainly remember little stilt walker whose infectious ear to ear smile won the hearts of all at the entire audience.

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