Day 4 in Antigua

Day 4 of our journey in Antigua began on a slightly quieter note, providing a peaceful backdrop to the bustling energy that was soon to follow for the musicians. The calm of the morning was not afforded to our composers who devoted their time to delivering a Continual Professional Development (CPD) session. The location? Antigua All Girls School in the vibrant city of St. John’s.

The session revolved around the vital task of supporting teachers in their approach to composition. This has started with general compositional techniques such as how to get children composing using a minute of silence, body percussion, improvisation. Teaching composition goes beyond mere techniques or theories. It’s about empowering educators to inspire creativity in their students, enabling them to craft their own unique musical narratives. It was a delight to engage with local teachers, and we felt a sense of shared understanding and passion that transcended cultural and geographical boundaries.

With the insightful morning session behind us, we shifted our focus to the afternoon rehearsal. There’s a certain magic that comes to life when an orchestra begins to work together. It’s not just about the notes on the page; it’s about the shared energy, the camaraderie, the silent understanding between each musician as they breathe life into the composition. This is something the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra have in bucket loads. We have always been so blown away by the energy and enjoyment that the young people show every time they pick up their instruments.

Our composers spent the afternoon leading a series of workshops. Each participant was encouraged to come up with a 3 or 4 note motif. This motif, simple as it may sound, was then used as the bedrock to develop intricate melodies. The exercise proved to be an engaging exploration into the transformative power of music. With just a few notes, we created a multitude of melodies, each imbued with the composers own character and emotion.

As the day drew to a close, we embarked on a culinary adventure. The evening meal introduced us to a local Antiguan favourite – the ‘Patty’. Made with a flaky pastry crust and filled with a spiced chicken filling, the Antiguan ‘Patty’ is comfort food at its best. It was the perfect end to a day that was as fulfilling as it was exhilarating.

To close our day, we enjoyed the ABYSO Initials and Juniors recital. This younger group has been set up to train up the next generation of musicians for the ABYSO senior orchestra. Having enjoyed an astonishing display of talent, we can tell you that ABYSO are certainly going to be safe and secure for the foreseeable future. The concert finished with the Commonwealth Resounds joining the Junior orchestra to support them as they performed a selection of pieces.

This day has taken a little longer to write up than usual, you’ll find out why soon!