The newly introduced National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Arrangers and Music Performers challenges have been lauded as a vehicle for the continuity of Barbados’ strength of the musical landscape locally and abroad.
The challenges, which seek to introduce new and competent arrangers to Barbadians as well as more fledging solo instrumentalists, are quickly gaining interest.
Thus far, out of a total of nine entries in the Arrangers Challenge, Marlon Legall and the Marlon Legall Voice Project copped the top prize in the NIFCA Music Arranger’s Challenge with a moving arrangement to the Mighty Gabby’s classic, Emmerton.
Gary Goodridge placed second for his arrangement of Da Coa Coa Tea and Mylon Clarke, who placed third, also arranged Da Coa Coa Tea. Other participants were: Christopher Sayers, Daniel Boxill, Erin Hazlewood, James Clarke, Judah Goddard and Lizzy & Manny.
What she realised was that while the talent was there, a lot of the musicians did not have a specific opportunity to showcase it or have the confidence to let it be heard. Knowing this was a deficit, an exciting challenge was devised to put them at the forefront. In keeping with the objective of celebrating Barbados, the music had to have a Barbadian element.
“It’s not just about the challenge it is about filling a deficit in Barbados, where we are not seeing a lot of arrangers and we hear some of the same names that we know, because we are on the ground, we know the talent is out there.
“Coming out of this, the aim is to have more workshops, more opportunities to hear their work being displayed on national stages. Just get their names out there so that we have more arrangers with varying styles to choose from.
“It also augurs well for the Barbados Community College music program as well as the University of the West Indies because they have specific classes geared towards these areas. When it comes to arranging you don’t just arrange for class anymore, you could let it translate into real life,” the Cultural Officer said.
On the other hand, the NIFCA Music Performer’s Challenge is made up of four challenges where contestants are given five days to learn and replicate a specific part of the weekly challenge song by a well-known and celebrated musician.
The first challenge was won by Keelan Richards who played educator and songwriter Andre Woodvine’s solo in the John King and Alison Hinds duet Hold You in a Song.
Challenge #2 went to Daniel Harvey for his interpretation of a segment of world-renowned Saxophonist Arturo Tappin’s hit, Breaking Up and Kaylee Allman’s delivery of Romaro Greaves’ solo in Farmer Nappy’s Big People Party took the top spot in Challenge #3. For Challenge #4, which was announced on Sunday, participants will have to reproduce the published clip of Nicholas Brancker’s Nicalypso.
In addition to $500 prize money, each winner wins an invaluable one-on-one mentorship session with the original soloist.
Butcher stressed that while the NIFCA Performing Arts competition is still popular, this year they wanted to look more at the technical stuff and also zero in on solo instrumentalists. Hence, an opportunity for them to continue working on their craft and also expose them to local high-quality musicians through the NIFCA Music Performers Challenge was thought as necessary.
“When it comes to the Performers Challenge, we are pleased with their technical level and ability to be able to execute in a short timeframe as well. And not only just getting the pitches correct, but the lengths, phrasing, and encapsulating the tone, and the feel of the solo and being able to put that out. These are songs that for some of them, they don’t regularly listen to, so to be able to pick up all of these nuances is very telling of where we are in terms of technical ability. And only one person can enter one challenge, so it is not this repeated person winning, so we are seeing different faces popping up with the same technical ability. We are pleased to know that that is what’s happening on the outside and want to give them opportunities to go further with their training and development,” Butcher added.