Gov’t commissions ‘Valerie Rodway House’

—in honour of late classical music/folksong composer

Valerie Rodway

A ceremony was on Tues-day held to commemorate the birth centenary of Guyana’s patriotic and classical music composer, Valerie Muriel Rodway, at which a building on Carmichael Street was renamed in her honour.

Government officials, local schoolchildren and the extended relatives of the Fraser family (Rodway’s maiden name was Fraser), were among those at the event, hosted at the newly commissioned Valerie Rodway House, on 94 Carmichael Street, Cummingsburg. The house was previously the home of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an annex to the Governor’s house.

The ceremony, organized by the Ministry of the Presidency, not only saw the commissioning of the Valerie Rodway House, but also the unveiling of a commemorative stamp and book on the life of Rodway. Three of the songs that Rodway wrote the musical score for namely “O Beautiful Guyana”, “Hymn for Guyana’s Children”, and “Guyana, the Free”, were also performed at the event, by the Guyana Police Force Band.

In his feature address, Dr. Vibert Cambridge expressed hope that in the future, the Valerie Rodway house would be an initiating site for integrated work and would help uplift Guyanese creative expression, as Guyanese currently have no access to adequate educational training in creative arts.

Before declaring the Valerie Rodway House open, President David Granger expressed his admiration for Rodway’s work. “Valerie Rodway’s talent is that she moved beyond ethnicity and religions. She moved beyond the prejudices of the urban and rural and helped us discover our ‘Guyaneseness’. When you read what she wrote and listen to what was played, there is no trace of prejudice, it is all about Guyana, it is all about us,” the President stated.

He further went on to say that people in the Caribbean were astonished at the repertoire of the Guyanese songs— a repertoire that Rodway made an immense contribution to. “It’s quite an honour to declare the building open and I would like to express my wish that the services which Valerie Rodway rendered to the Guyanese nation would continue to inspire future generations,” he ended.

Valerie Rodway was born on February 12, 1919, in New Amsterdam. She was a teacher and a Guyanese composer. Ms. Rodway is best known for her works, which include, “O Beautiful Guyana”, “Guyana the Free”, “A Hymn for the Republic”, “Kaieteur” and “Kanaima”, among numerous others. She was awarded the Cacique Crown of Honour for her contributions to the country. She died in the year 1970.

A symposium on Valerie Rodway’s music was held on Wednesday at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus, in the Education Lecture theatre.

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