The Lydians at Christmas 2017

Lydians celebrate at 40: The Lydians at Christmas 2017, “Hold Out Your Light” at Queen’s Hall.

Photo credit Brent Louis

Christmas has come for the Lydians!

This year the group presents, Deo Gratias (Latin for “Thanks Be to God” ), a show undertaking styles of music spanning several centuries and cultures, which will launch the start of a year-long celebration of musical and non-musical activities in honour of the group’s 40th anniversary as a music organisation in Trinidad and Tobago.

The concert will be a carefully curated and exploratory foray into the group’s 40 years of music and will be a bridge into the next 40 years and beyond. Deo Gratias will celebrate some of the Lydians’ greatest hits from Christmas, religious and secular repertoire featuring the Lydian Steel, Malick African drummers, Soogrim-Ram Tassa drummers and a host of musical guests.

A special anniversary Gala performance will be presented on December 13 at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s and will feature a sing-along of Christmas carols with the choir in the Queen’s Hall lobby and a ceremonial ornament hanging for all attendees on the Caribbean Christmas tree.

The Gala night will also offer limited edition 40th anniversary T-shirts and a special 40th anniversary Opera gift basket with one memorabilia token from each of the five operas staged by the Lydians. A special commemorative programme/magazine will also be available to take home, featuring special articles, photos and historical and musical features about the Lydians.

Under the musical direction of cultural icon Dr Pat Bishop, the Lydians earned a celebrated and critically acclaimed career in opera productions, completing five fully staged works performed from great halls to steel panyards, each with exquisite commitment to Classical singing quality with a signature Trinbagonian artistic flair.

Deo Gratias will see the Lydians bringing some of these operas to life, showcasing excerpts from the tale of an African Prince Koanga to the wily Frenchman Dr Dulcamara peddling his elixir of love in the L’elisir D’amore. The Lydians will then go on a journey to Peking, China where Liu the servant girl will sing of her devotion and love to the aloof Princess Turandot, then to the festive, Native American-inspired wedding feast with the great singer Chibiabos from Scenes from the Song of Hiawatha and finally, to the panyard for the Trini-Greek interpreted tragedy Orpheus & Euridice to be tormented by the furies of the underworld.

With creative stage direction by Wendell Manwarren, set design by Christopher Littrean and costume design by Ronald Guy James, the concert will feature a strong foundation of classical and oratorio music accompanied by Lindy-Ann Bodden-Ritch, Myrtle Cumberbatch and, joining the Lydians for the Christmas season, new Lydian accompanist, Andrew Samlal. The musical offering will include vibrant Christmas selections and will be beautifully flavoured with a strong selection of works from the Latin American diaspora including Cuba, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

Parang and calypso will also feature heavily with original arrangements by long-time Lydian musical collaborator John Jacob, along with a touch of Caribbean jazz by composer Astra Noel, kaiso folk by Michael Hudlin and musical accompaniment by featured artistes, Natasha Joseph on the pan and Chantal Esdelle on piano.

As the Lydians turn 40 in this festive Christmas season, they celebrate not only a cultural institution, but observe the growth of a musical family, a community, a refuge, a home for the fostering of creative, communal, and familial ties, and a catalyst for growth and change.

As stated in its mission statement, the Lydians “recognise that music is a gift and that the ability to perform it is a grace”. This Christmas, the group will renew its commitment to this musical mission—to give selflessly the gift of music and to promote the perfect harmony - loving coexistence, peace in the nation and goodwill to all. It is the music of the Lydians (past, present and future) that has been at the heart of the group’s endurance over 40 years. It is for this God-given grace that the Lydians say, Deo Gratias, this Christmas.

For more information on Deo Gratias, visit: http://www.thelydian.org

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