The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Doretta Fran­cois

The Saint Lu­cia School of Mu­sic (SLSM) has re­ceived a grant from the Wind­song Foun­da­tion, a US-based phil­an­thropic or­gan­i­sa­tion. The funds are be­ing used to help sup­port the school’s Youth Or­ches­tra and Youth Choir. The SLSM in­vited guests and stu­dents to its premises on Satur­day June 23 for an of­fi­cial launch of The Sys­tem of Or­ches­tra and Choirs.

Present at the cer­e­mony was Ms. Ge­or­gis Tay­lorAlexan­der, a high court judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and a friend of the SLSM who helped fa­cil­i­tate ini­tial dis­cus­sions with the foun­da­tion trustees. Also in at­ten­dance were Leiff Escalona, the Venezue­lan Am­bas­sador; Ms. Dawn French, Deputy Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Lo­cal Govern­ment and Cul­ture; Mrs. Ru­fina Charles, act­ing Chief Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion; cel­e­brated Saint Lu­cian soca artist Ted­dyson John and other dis­tin­guished and in­vited guests.

The grant has en­abled the SLSM to award fifty stu­dents with schol­ar­ships for its youth or­ches­tra and choir pro­gramme. Richard Payne, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the SLSM, was de­lighted that this is help­ing to achieve part of the school’s vi­sion: an op­por­tu­nity for all to re­ceive a mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion. He spoke of how mu­sic can be a ve­hi­cle for social change and trans­form lives. Cit­ing as an ex­am­ple the Marc­hand youth or­ches­tra that the school es­tab­lished nine years ago in part­ner­ship with the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States and the Govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia, he de­clared, “We have seen what mu­sic can do to change the lives of in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties.”

Mr. Payne re­minded the gath­er­ing that the SLSM opened 30 years ago, thank­ing the govern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor part­ners for their sup­port dur­ing those three decades. Mrs Charles shared the find­ings of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion that the arts play an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of young peo­ple and that stu­dents should there­fore be ex­posed to the arts at a young age.

Mr. Payne ac­knowl­edged the sup­port of the Venezue­lan Em­bassy and the per­sonal in­ter­est of the am­bas­sador, Ms. Escalona. Jose Salazar Marin, the SLSM’S String Teacher re­lated how he had ben­e­fit­ted from “El Sis­tema”, the pro­gramme in his na­tive Venezuela whereby all chil­dren can be ex­posed to clas­si­cal mu­sic and learn to play an in­stru­ment at no cost, a model that has been em­u­lated in 64 coun­tries in­clud­ing here in Saint Lu­cia.

The fea­tured speaker, Mrs. Fiona Mayer, Head of Pri­mary Ecole Mon­di­ale World School in Mum­bai, In­dia ex­pressed her con­cern that cre­ativ­ity is be­ing “killed”. She urged the stu­dents to “Let it [mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion] be a path that you con­tinue. See the in­stru­ment as broad­en­ing your skills and en­sure the tal­ent you were given is used well.”

The pro­ceed­ings in­cluded two video ex­cerpts from a con­cert in Cas­tries Cathe­dral in July 2015 by the com­bined SLSM and the Ma­turin Cham­ber Or­ches­tra of Venezue­lan. There was also a per­for­mance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 Gigue by stu­dent and men­tor Co­man Fevriere, who has been awarded a tu­ition schol­ar­ship to study at North Park Uni­ver­sity in Chicago, Illi­nois, USA, and a ren­di­tion of The Bea­tles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the SLSM Cham­ber En­sem­ble, all proof of the heights to which young peo­ple can climb when given the op­por­tu­nity.

An ar­tic­u­late Mrs. Natalie Jolie Fa­nis was the Mis­tress of Cer­e­mony.

The SLSM looks for­ward to show­cas­ing the tal­ent of its stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers with a Bea­tles-themed con­cert on Satur­day July 28 at the St. Lu­cia Yacht Club in Rod­ney Bay. Tel. (758) 452 2473 / 285 2936 or email lcmu­sic­ for more in­for­ma­tion and tick­ets.

Richard Payne, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the SLSM, ex­plain­ing the school’s vi­sions and achievements.

Co­man Fevriere, a SLSM stu­dent, has been awarded a tu­ition schol­ar­ship for a US uni­ver­sity.

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