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Liam Teague gets prestigious professorship

Lifestyle - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 00:47

On March 16, Dr Janet Hathaway, Director of the School of Music at Northern Illinois University (NIU) announced that professor Liam Teague had been just named as the latest NIU Presidential Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Professor. The ceremony for this prestigious professorship takes place on April 19 at Altgeld Hall, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois.

According to the university, the NIU Presidential Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Professorship was established in the spring of 1982 to support “the research and artistic mission of the university.” The university further notes that faculty who receive the award are “selected based on their work significant and sustained scholarly or creative work, including the achievement of national or international reputation in their individual fields.”

Past recipients of the NIU Presidential Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Professorship represent the best NIU has to offer and only twice before have School of Music faculty received the award. In the awards inaugural year—1982—noted School of Music faculty member and noted composer Dr Jan Bach was a recipient. Several years later Professor Bach sought out a young Liam Teague, who was an NIU undergraduate student at the time, as the soloist and inspiration for his Concerto for Steelpan and Orchestra back in 1994—a composition Teague has since performed all over the world. In a sense, the award has now come full circle in recognising Teague’s service to NIU, work directing the steelpan program at NIU, concertizing around the world, and work arranging for the National Panorama competition in T&T, most recently for Nutrien Silver Stars Steel Orchestra.

Teague is thrilled to win the award, noting, “I am grateful to NIU for recognising my contributions and I feel extremely honored to be held in such high esteem. I will continue to serve NIU and Trinidad and Tobago to the best of my ability.”

Teague has little time to enjoy the award, however, as the new professorship provides for a semester off and a financial component, though Teague has yet to decide when he will take his leave or what his focus will be when he does.

Teague’s early plans may involve commissioning new compositions and/or arrangements for steelpan in support his continual mission to artistically progress steelpan further into the 21st century. He has previously commissioned numerous solo and duo pieces for steelpan as well as concertos for orchestra.

Last Fall 2017 Teague performed a new concerto for steelpan and wind symphony at NIU written by the composer Kevin Bobo. Videos of this performance and several other newly commissioned pieces for steelpan are available on his website at http://liamteague.com/Videos.html

Since returning to NIU after Carnival, Teague has enjoyed a very busy semester as the NIU Steelpan programme prepares for several concerts both on and off campus. The NIU Steelband has performed around the Chicago-area in churches and schools and even at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

On campus, the NIU Community School for the Arts Steelband, All University Steelband, and Steelpan Studio recital will be held on April 7. Two steelpan student recitals — Khadija King from Trinidad (April 28 graduate recital) and Zahra Lake from Antigua & Barbuda (April 21 undergraduate recital) — will also be held and the big NIU Steelband spring concert is set for Sunday, April 22 with a return appearance by one of the world’s leading steelpan virtuosos , Victor Provost. As always, these concerts feature incredibly varied repertories and are broadcast free via the internet through the NIU Music Department webcast.

In addition to his work with students, Teague has performed in his duo Panangelic with harpist Faye Seeman and has made several guest appearances, lectures, and performances this semester in Toronto, Bahamas, Wisconsin, and at the University of Akron and Miami University in Ohio. Perhaps after being awarded the NIU Presidential Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Professorship Teague will be able to present a concert in Trinidad with his newly commissioned pieces.

Ray Funk is a retired Alaskan judge and a Fulbright scholar who is passionately devoted to calypso, pan and mas. Dr. Andrew Martin is an ethnomusicologist, percussionist, pannist, and Professor of Music at Inver Hills College in St Paul, Minnesota.

Categories: Entertainment News

True Talk, No Lie…with a bang

Lifestyle - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 01:01

The 2018 season of True Talk, No Lie, the open-mic spoken word/musical series, opened at the Big Black Box in Woodbrook last Wednesday with far more of a bang than a whimper and no shortage of great fun.

On show was an uneven exposition of amateur talent ranging from one rambling and amusingly pointless monologue to an outstanding standup comedic routine by Anil Kumar to a traditional poetic offering from Marli Creese to Shamika Rafael’s angelic rendition of Skankin’ Sweet by Chronixx and a range of spoken word treatments.

If there were a modern-day version of the old-fashioned “variety show” this would have been it—a delightful one at that. That’s what open-mic shows are about and True Talk delivered true to form.

At the helm is tenacious 30-year-old impresario/promoter, Yvan Mendoza, who has held the fort with these productions since 2013 when the venue of choice was Martin’s Piano Bar in Port-of-Spain.

“I used to be involved in the spoken-word scene, around 2005/2006, went away to study, came back and found that there were little to no opportunities for artists that I had when I was around,” Mendoza told T&T Guardian. “We used to hop around to three or four open-mics a month.”

“I always wanted to do my own show,” he said, “and because of the dearth of open-mic spaces like that, I thought I should do one myself.”

There appear to have been few regrets—whatever the business risks. Last Wednesday, there was reason for hope in the face of an overflowing Woodbrook venue and an even more intense gush of talent spanning a wide variety of poetic and musical genres.

There were prospective performers who had to be turned away, having arrived too late to register, but they all, good-naturedly, appeared to linger on to witness a show that is going to be hard to beat when the series continues next month.

However expert the stage management, there will always be entertainers who prefer not to stick to the rules. Seasoned campaigner, Brendan O’Brien did in fact perform two instead of one spoken word piece, including a provocative examination of the sexual consent debate from the standpoint of victimised women.

O’Brien’s expert rendition earned him censure from Mendoza who served as MC but also an accompanying reprieve. No such luck for perennial favourite, Kwame Boatswain, who did not have his best evening out. Just Liz took a risk with self-accompaniment on the guitar and forgot her chords more than once. That’s showbiz. She has enough talent to go back and try again.

Split Mind came on stage with a rap track accompanying a rhythmic invitation to vigorous sex that raised a few pores and generated nervous laughter across the audience. More disturbingly x-rated stuff from him on SoundCloud— venture there at your own risk.

Singer/guitarist Chad Affonso brought some balance back to the proceedings with Secondary Stress—a well-composed song on “non-physical forms of violence,” as he explained.

Marcus Abraham was amusing with his tribute to doubles and Rae’s new offering, Speak to me Softer, deserved an initial listen from an appreciative crowd.

Anil Kumar’s expert standup performance was followed by an almost equally amusing performance by kaiso old-stager, Bunny Bynoe. He came equipped with dark sunglasses, a shiny, blue outfit, fluffy cap, single white glove, wooden bead chain, a T&T flag draped tambourine and a towel hanging from his back pocket. His song was Love and the audience loved it.

By the time headline act, Jimmy October, came on stage the young crowd was primed for action. Accompanied by an animated band comprising Joshua Salcedo (drums), Reuel Williams (keyboards), Isaac Cozier (guitar), Antonio Achee working the samples and bassist Mikhail Gibbings, the popular young artiste set the venue alight.

October’s Vacation and other selections brought new life to the proceedings and closed off the evening with the bang everyone expected, and deserved.

Take a bow, Mendoza and crew.

Categories: Entertainment News

Couva mas successful despite little money

Lifestyle - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 00:52

The Couva Carnival Committee (CCC) held its 2018 prize giving function on Tuesday, March 27 at the auditorium of the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce at Camden Road. CCC chairman Ramchand Rajbal Maraj said he was disappointed by the cut in subvention of monies from the NCC.

Maraj revealed that in 2018 the CCC got $150,000 which represented a slash of over 50 per cent in the CCC’s allocation in the last two years from the National Carnival Commission (NCC). Maraj said this meant smaller prize monies for bands and individuals.

He also said that while small businesses gave towards the event, big businesses in the Point Lisas area failed to make any significant contribution. Rajbal said two of the 150 operators on the Point Lisas Estate coughed up $4,200 in cash. He said despite the meager contributions the CCC was grateful for the funds from private entities.

The gathering also heard greetings from Henry Awong, the chairman of the Couva/ Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Corporation and Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh.

The band of the year title was copped by Madness Crew’s presentation of Feteland.

Categories: Entertainment News


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