Good attendance and superlative singing marked the finals of the recent Lions Club of Grand Cayman’s second annual Youth Choir Competition on May 26.
Nearly 400 singers and more than 1,000 people attended the event, where Savannah Primary School ended up having plenty to cheer about.
Held at the Lions Community Centre, the evening’s contest pitted several school choirs against each other for top honors in Infant, Junior and Secondary categories.
The competition, a fundraiser to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands and several of the service club’s youth programs, was the climactic end of a two-part event to find the best local youth choirs.
Grace Christian Academy, Cayman Prep Primary, Prospect Primary and Savannah primary schools took part in the Infant category. Cayman Prep, Prospect Primary and Savannah Primary competed in the Junior category. Clifton Hunter and John Gray high school choirs were the only two participants in the Secondary category.
During the finals, judges Rebekah Jefferson, Noel Wallace and Georgina Gatto-Deosaran assessed each choir on rhythm, technique, interpretation, tone quality, intonation, balance/blend, diction and performance.
The winner of each category, as well as winning recognition, was also awarded $500 for their school’s music program. The Overall Youth Choir Competition Champion 2016, as well as winning their school category, received an additional $500.
In an impressive sweeping of the boards, Savannah Primary not only won first place in the Infant and Junior categories, but also won the Youth Choir Competition Champion 2016. John Gray High School won first place in the Secondary Category.
Asked what the mood of the Savannah Primary School choirs was before the finals, Choir Director Junior Hines said, “I had confidence in the students because we did a lot of work [going] into the competition. We were able to see some choirs perform at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts and I knew we had a lot of work to do to stand a chance against them, so I definitely pushed the students really hard. We also had feedback from the preliminary round that helped us with preparing.”
Savannah Primary’s 70-member infant choir sang “I am the Earth.” The song was chosen, Mr. Hines said, because of the transition from the “minor to major key, which made the song sound cool to the students” and because “the lyrics were perfect for the competition, [with] the students telling the audience ‘We are the Generation Rising.’”
The school’s 54-strong Junior choir sang “Hallelujah.” Talking further about song selection, the choir director said it was important to choose songs students “loved and connected with, because a part of singing is being able to express the song.”
Mr. Hines said he was particularly impressed with the Infant choir, “as these students gave up their play time to practice four days a week.” As an inducement, the Infant choir students were promised an ice cream party if they won their category.
The school announced that their $1,500 in total prize money would be used to pay for instrument repairs, buying resources for the students and helping to pay tuition for instrumental classes.
Youth Choir Competition Committee chairperson, Lion Janelle Tibbetts, said, “We are proud to host this annual event as we know the positive impact it has on the youth who are involved in the arts, as well as the youth programs this fundraising venture will continue to support.”
The exact amount raised by the competition will be announced later this month.