In the grand scheme of things, 15 years is not a long time. However, given the uncertainty, fragility and fast-paced nature of life, 15 years is a long time. To put it into further perspective, the members of this year’s Junior Choir were not yet born when this production first began.
This year’s show celebrated this moment in time! We celebrated the monumental melodies and riveting rhythms, the lessons learned and the friendships forged, and we celebrated the power of dance, drama and song! At the core of the ethos of Fatima College is our belief in God, as well as our conviction that by striving you shall conquer. Guided by all this, our 15th Anniversary celebration of Gifts of Blue & Gold was a two-act production themed “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Music”.
The first half of the show, “Celebrate Hope”, was inspired by 2nd Corinthians, 4:8-9. The Apostle Paul writes:
“Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged.
We are left without answer, but do not despair;
Persecuted but not abandoned,
Knocked down but not crushed.”
The Senior Steel Orchestra opened the show with the classic ‘80’s hit “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” and immediately after, there was a special performance of our SANFEST 2023 Speech Band Finalists rendering poignant messages of hope through their own eyes. Following this, the Fatima College & Holy Name Convent Mixed Choir, along with the GOBAG 15 band, presented a mini-musical entitled, “Hope in Heritage” written by musical & artistic director, Mr. Kwasi Noel.
Using the music of calypso and soca, “Hope in Heritage” is a theatrical recounting of the earliest days of Christianity, particularly through the eyes of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as well as the Blessed Mother, Mary. Appearing in lead roles were Gabriel Marin (Form 5) as the Apostle Peter, Andrés Simon-Thompson (Upper 6) as the deadly Saul who became the Apostle Paul, and Jeniqué Adams (Upper 6, Holy Name Convent) as Mary, Mother of Jesus. Luke Persad of Lower 6 played the Apostle John. Joining Fatima College this academic year in Lower 6 is a very talented young man, Ronaldo McAuley. He featured as not only a dancer, but in a very dramatic scene, as the martyr, Stephen. Jeremiah Forgenie Reyes, known at the College as a virtuoso on the tenor pan, showed himself to be versatile in the role of The Beggar healed by Peter. Ché Mendez, along with Nicholas Henry, one of our Deputy Head Prefects, served as narrative voices as they played the Angels who appear before the Apostles after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven on the Mount of Olives. Two of our youngest students, Gabriel Franklyn and Ethan Young, both of Form 1, made their debut on the GOBAG stage as petrified children caught in a world of chaos. In a full circle moment, Isaiah Fernandes (Upper 6) returned to the choir this year to play The Resurrected Jesus. This is significant because six years ago, when Isaiah was in Form 1, he charmed audiences as The 12-year-old Jesus, found in the temple by his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. Undoubtedly, details like this made our 15th Anniversary concert all the more special.
Choosing calypso and soca as the genres to carry this story was a deliberate creative decision. This year, the Caribbean celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of CARICOM and like reggae, this music, indigenous to the Caribbean, must be treasured. Trinidad and Tobago in particular marks the 50th Anniversary of the creation of soca, a derivative of calypso music. Even the costuming for this segment was a direct acknowledgement of the creation of soca music by Garfield Blackman aka Lord Shorty as a hybrid of African and East Indian rhythms. The intended message therefore, is that in addition to the story of hope that characterises the Acts of the Apostles, there is hope in the melodies and lyrics of our music, which is part of our heritage.
Act II commenced with a rendition of “The Sound of Music” by the Senior Steel Orchestra (directed by Mr. Roy Edwards), setting the tone for an entire segment that allows us to delight in melody and harmony — and to dingolay!
As expected, the Junior, Senior, and Mixed Choirs took to the stage, as did the Junior Steel Orchestra (directed by Ms. Roisha Edwards) and our instrumental groups, notably the Rhythm Section (directed by Mr. Leon Grey) and the String Ensemble (directed by Mr. Akil Patrick).
Gifts of Blue & Gold is not exclusively a Christmas Concert. However, this year's show featured yuletide selections reflecting the joy of music. The Senior Choir used tribal African rhythms to “Sing Noel” and in another selection, the warm voices of our young men reminded the audience that “the angels sang, the shepherds sang, the grateful earth rejoiced!” Led by Holy Name Convent singer Chaya Vincent, the Mixed Choir returned to tell the imagined Nativity story of the little lamb who asked the shepherd boy about the song he hears high above the trees. Completing this segment was a performance by our steel drummer boys and several little (and not so little) drummer boys!
Indeed, it was a spectacular evening of music. Ephesians 5:19-20 reads, “Gather together to pray, with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and celebrate the Lord in your heart, giving thanks to God, the Father, in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, always, and for everything!” and this is what Gifts of Blue & Gold is and has always been about.