USC came alive on the evening of Saturday 1st February 2020 with the reintroduction of the USC mUSiC Choral Festival. This musical extravaganza is a key fixture on the university’s calendar and was established by the university’s music department under the directorship of Mr. Kerron Hislop to promote sacred/gospel choral music in Trinidad and Tobago and the region. Several community choirs, school choirs, university choirs and church choirs were given the opportunity to participate.
Prior to the festival, choirs were required to submit an audition video for consideration and the top five submissions in the Open class and top three in the Junior class were selected to participate live at the festival before an esteemed panel of international judges – Dr. Ariel Quintana (Chief Judge) – Director of Choral Activities at La Sierra University; Dr. Roger Henry – Assistant Professor of Music and Programme Leader at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and Artistic Director and Conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago; Mrs. LuLu Mupfumbu – Choir Director, Takoma Academy Chorale and Camerata; and Mr. Boyd Gibson – String and Orchestral Studies Director, USC mUSiC and director of the University Singers, University of the Southern Caribbean.
Participants in the open class category included the Tacarigua SDA Choir, Praisetissimo, the Point Fortin Community Chorale, HIS LUV (Heavenly Inspired Singers Lifting Up Voices) and the Barataria Youth Choir. In the junior class, the Sangre Chiquito Voices, Sangre Grande SDA Church Adventurer Club and the Maracas SDA Primary School Choir presented.
At the conclusion of this well-executed and captivating festival, HIS LUV copped the open class title with their exhilarating and creative performance of “Wade in the Water”; while the Maracas SDA Primary School Choir captured the junior class title with their beautiful rendition of John Rutter’s ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.
A greatly anticipated highlight of Saturday night’s live event was the performance of the Takoma Academy Chorale and Camerata; a 50 plus strong choir of young men and women between the ages of 13 and 18 based in Maryland, United States and led by Mrs. LuLu Mupfumbu. They did not disappoint as they delivered a sensational mini-concert performance which demonstrated why they are an award-winning ensemble. For five days, USC had the privilege of hosting this gifted group which captivated its audiences with their featured performances at both the USC mUSiC Choral Festival and the Gospel Music Awards of Trinidad and Tobago (GMATT).
The weekend’s musical achievements culminated on Sunday 2nd February, 2020 at the 3rd Annual Gospel Music Awards of Trinidad and Tobago (GMATT) as USC’s University Choir & Orchestra (UCO) was recognized as “Choir of the Year”.
Other highlights of the Choral Festival weekend included the inaugural Choral Vespers held on the evening of Friday January 31st which featured inspirational presentations by USC mUSiC’s vocal ensembles – the University Singers, the Women’s Chorus and the University Choir and Orchestra (UCO). A sensational performance of Mack Wilberg’s “Come Thou Fount” featuring the combination of UCO and the Takoma Academy Chorale & Camerata was the highlight of a blessed and wonderful evening. On Sunday February 2nd, conductors, choir members and observers were given an opportunity to participate in a choral workshop facilitated by the four festival judges/clinicians as they imparted a wealth of experience to all those who attended.
Music remains a key component of the USC experience and the University will continue to treat it as an integral part of the student experience.