It’s been a difficult time for many this year. More than ever, as the Christmas season approaches, the Marionettes aims to bring as much joy, hope, and upliftment as they possibly can the best way they know how — through music and community. As such, the group’s three choirs — adult, youth, and children — return to Queen’s Hall this Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th for a four night run.
Tickets ($150 to $300) for Sing Alleluia are available from members and at the Queen’s Hall Box Office (624-1284, 10am–5:30pm, Monday–Saturday). For more information, the Marionettes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and 790-1751 (9am–5pm, Monday–Saturday).
This year’s theme, Sing Alleluia, emphasises praise and thanksgiving. Artistic and Musical Director Gretta Taylor (Hummingbird Medal Gold) explained: “Several of our pieces have either Alleluia or Hallelujah as a central theme. We give praise through oratorio, spirituals, and gospel music, from the four corners of the earth — North and South America, Europe, Britain, the Middle East, and here at home in Trinidad and Tobago. And we hope that people will remember the value of harmony and solidarity, and the positives of the Trinidad & Tobago we love.”
A big part of what give the Marionettes hope is the talent, discipline, and exuberance of their members — particularly the young members of their Youth Chorale and Children’s Choir. Among those highlighted in Sing Alleluia will be Sharissa Camejo, the reigning Junior Calypso Monarch, and several 2016 Music Festival championship winners: Dominique Akal (Most Outstanding Junior Vocalist), Amelia Emmanuel (Most Outstanding Vocalist aged 8-10), her older sister Annalise Emmanuel (also a past Music Festival champion), and Aysiah McEachnie-Assing (first in both the vocal solo and duet categories in the 11-12 age group). And of course, representing the adults are some of their seasoned singers like Jacqueline Johnson.
“Music has a way of lifting one’s spirits — it is soul food. Many have said that they come to our concerts tired and down, but leave feeling happy and uplifted,” said Taylor. Assistant Musical Director and fellow conductor, Dr Roger Henry, agreed: “We enjoy the music and we enjoy each other; we share our passion for excellent music and it’s infectious.” One of his pieces, “Joy” (a setting of the familiar “Looking at the Sunrise”), will also be performed.
In the spirit of bringing joy to those even beyond their concert halls, part proceeds of Sing Alleluia will go to the Living Water Community. Their far-reaching programmes range from housing and clothing to food and medical care, and serve the homeless, cancer patients, refugees, HIV/AIDS sufferers, at-risk young men, recovering addicts, and neglected and abused children.
The Marionettes is also raising funds for their Property Fund so as to finally, after over 50 years, build a home of their own for rehearsal, performance, and storage (sheet music, archival material, instruments, sets, and costumes). Since 2001, they have been working hard to achieve this dream through multiple fundraising efforts. With a plot of land and approvals from all requisite authorities, all they need now is the funding. Their performances are among the biggest contributors to the fund.
As has been the case for several years, the series is supported by bpTT, Flow, and CNMG: the Caribbean New Media Group (Sweet 100.1FM, TalkCity 91.1FM, and CTV). “Music forms a big part of Christmas celebrations, whether it is parang or traditional carols, and we have to say thanks to the Marionettes for keeping this aspect of the Christmas tradition alive. We must also thank them for helping the tradition to endure by always involving the very young,” said Regional President of bpTT, Norman Christie. “The Christmas season gives us reason to “sing alleluia”… I can think of no better group to lead us in the act of praise than the Marionettes. For many of us, they have become as essential to Christmas as sorrel, ginger beer, and black cake.”