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Hope Town Primary School female students lament the watermelon that was spoiling on the vine and sing a medley of traditional Bahamian songs, dressed in colourful costumes, and with the help of a male student on the drum during the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival Adjudications at the school in the Abacos, on March 13, 2018. (BIS Photo: Eric Rose)

Students Perform in the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival

Adjudicators for the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival were on Abaco from March 12 until March 16 when they left to continue their adjudications throughout The Bahamas, stopping next at the Berry Islands. Each year the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival invites persons between the ages of 2 and up throughout the entire Bahamas to compete in the categories of music, dance, art and drama.

The Judging got off to a very good start on the first day in Hope Town with the Hope Town Primary School achieving very positive comments and a distinction score.

The following day the adjudicators spent a busy afternoon at Every Child Counts School where they were very impressed with the enthusiastic participation of all the young students. The ECC drumming group gained high praise for their “world cultural medley.” This began with the beats of tribal groups in West Africa and culminated with a lively Junkanoo section.

The reaction of the music adjudicator at the end of the drumming performance was, “Wow, wow, wow!” and he rewarded them with the exceptionally high score of 95. He stated that that group could compete with any school in The Bahamas and he was very impressed with a young nine-year-old girl in the group who held her own with all of the older drummers. He gave the young singers an insight into the difference between volume and intensity and persuaded the dance judge to give some tips on movement and dancing to the young men in one of the groups. The session closed by the music judge stating, “Once again this has been the highlight of my trip to Abaco and from the Ministry of Culture I say a big thank you.”

The remainder of the adjudications were carried out in the St. John the Baptist Anglican Church Hall in Marsh Harbour and it marked the first year of combined school adjudications.

About eight private and public schools gathered in the hall for almost 30 music, dance and drama performances. In addition to the items we are used to seeing each year such as choirs, verse speaking groups, dramatizations, recorder ensembles, vocal soloists, dancers and drummers, this year there were also a few more unusual ones.

Clane Davis, a student at Agape School sang and accompanied herself on the piano, Journey Higgs from Forest Heights Academy sang and accompanied herself on guitar and young Rose Ziskind of Angels Academy performed a violin solo.

Junkanoo groups from St. Francis Catholic School, Treasure Cay Primary School and Cooper’s Town Primary School drew everyone outside for their adjudication whilst they entertained everyone by dancing and music making their way along the road.

The adjudicators seemed pleased at what they saw and heard from the contestants in Abaco and while giving high praise to some they gave very constructive advice to others. The music judge suggested ways that musicians could improve their phrasing and also encouraged them to feel the music and move along with it. The drama judge’s main piece of advice to the verse speaking contestants was that they must be prepared and know all the words. He encouraged them to find focus and single out someone in the audience to talk to.

The adjudicators were as follows:

Music- Trent Davis

Dance- Lawrence Carol

Drama- Philip Burrows

Art- Katrina Cartwright

The team was headed once again this year by Sonovia Pierre, Head of the Festival Committee.

Each of the performers is judged not only against other students on their own island but against students throughout the entire Bahamas. Winners in the various categories are invited to perform in the annual High Scorers Concert in Nassau and it is hoped that a High Scorers Concert will also be held on Abaco this year.

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