The Marionettes Chorale’s repertoire spans a wide range of musical styles, from 16th-century Gabrielli to 20th-century Messiaen, as well as opera, spirituals, Caribbean and international folk songs, and calypso. It has always championed Trinidad and Tobago’s music, which it has performed extensively on overseas tours. The Chorale also has had the honour of having work dedicated to it by composers including the late Dr. John Havelock Nelson, Stewart Hylton Edwards and Alma Pierre.
The Marionettes was the first adult choir to blend choral voices in live performance with steelband, singing with the Pan Am Jet North Stars at Queen’s Hall in 1966 (and again in 1968). Since that historic moment, the Marionettes have been accompanied by many top steel orchestras — Trinidad All Stars, Renegades, Renegades Youth Orchestra, Desperadoes and Skiffle Bunch. All Stars and Renegades feature on several of the Marionettes’ CDs.
The Marionettes has introduced many contemporary choral works to audiences in the Caribbean, including Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (1988); Fanshawe’s African Sanctus (1997); Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs (1982), Britten’s Ceremony of Carols (1995); Poulenc’s Gloria (1992); Leonard Bernstein’s Missa Brevis (1993) and Chichester Psalms (1990); Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace) – including the accompanying film – in 2012; Rutter’s Mass of the Children (2018); and the first full production of Les Misérables in the English-speaking Caribbean in 2014–15.
The choir has been lauded internationally for their performance of Caribbean calypso, folksong and steelband favourites. They have commissioned choral arrangements of Caribbean and national folk songs, calypso and other music, to perform both at home and overseas, including the work of: David Rudder, André Tanker, Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Ella Andall, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, the Mighty Shadow (Winston Bailey), Ray Holman, Lord Blakie (Carlton Joseph), the Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco), Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), John Arnold, and Desmond Waithe.
The Marionettes have provided the chorus for several opera productions, including Mozart’s The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, and have presented substantial segments of Broadway musicals and operettas. In 2011, the presented a landmark production of perhaps the most popular opera in the world: Bizet’s Carmen. The 2014 — and with a repeat in 2015 — the Marionettes presented the first full production of Les Misérables in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Just some of the Broadway/West End shows from which the choir has sung concert excerpts: