This reflection is not a criticism of anyone, but rather a petition on behalf of our children and our beloved country, even as we agonize over the “lost art of expressing ourselves” (see Stabroek News, August 27, p13). The world knows how powerful a force music is; any civilized society needs to promote an appreciation of music (not amplified noise) let us hear the difference.
Last Sunday evening I attended a concert titled ‘Bach to Baroque,’ featuring the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra made up of just under two hundred youths from five years to twenty-three years of age coming from different schools. They were brought together with their instruments, and had spent fifteen days of intense practice (9am to 4pm).
It was tough but rewarding; they were divided into Junior, Intermediate and Advanced categories, but my pores opened and my heart was filled with joy as I listened to these youngsters perform with gusto and excellence: violins, cellos, violas, flutes, clarinets, double basses, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, tubas, timpani, percussion all in harmony and unison produced sweet, dulcet melodies, with no PA system.
My music teacher a long time ago reminded us of an old saying: “Music when healthy is the teacher of perfect order, also when depraved is the teacher of perfect disorder.”
In Guyana we need perfect order beyond this; there is no good reason why this sort of activity should not be at least to honour our departed musical stalwarts: ‘Uncle’ Percy and ‘Aunt’ Ivy Loncke, Enid Peters, Shirley Garraway, the Dolphin sisters, the McDavids’, PM De Weever, Major Henwood, Director of the then Militia Band, Barney Small, Peter Koulen, Eleanor Kerry, Jane Hunter, Mrs Jordan, Lucille Dewar, Maurice Watson, Harry Whittaker, Lynette Katchey, George Noel, WRA ‘Billy’ Pilgrim, Valerie Rodway, MA Cossou, Jodina, RCG Potter, Sonny Ault, W Hawley Bryant, Horace Taitt and a host of others still with us such as, Hilton Hemerding, Hugh Sam, Ray Luck, Eddy Grant, Frank Daniels and others abroad.
Holding the fort at home and giving us hope, we have Dr Wendy Rudder, Professor Joycelyn Loncke and family, Marilyn and David Dewar, Michael Basdeo, Asst Commissioner Bovell and other music teachers.
Money? Guyana with its gold, diamonds, timber and marine resources is not short of money, but the powers that be must make massive investment in our youth in this important area of our culture music.
What we need is a vision, some set of persons or person to put aside personality, profits and policies to give our young people an opportunity to explore the exciting world of music, to be creative and to learn to love by playing good music together. How else can we build a solid and safe future? Let them fiddle with fiddles not drugs and danger.
Why should we permit our natural resources to be exploited by aliens and those who could not care beyond their money bags?
My dream is to experience the same joy in Guyana as I did on Sunday at the Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain. Can we do it? Yes we can! Our government can take the lead; ensure that music is taught in every school ‒ a pianoforte in each school as a beginning. I hope the two provided at President’s College in 1987 are still in place.
Hamilton Green, JP