1st April 2018… The Kanneh-Mason family ends week-long tour with final concert
The second installment of the ‘Playing to Inspire’ week of music education culminated with a grand concert at the St. John’s Pentecostal House of Restoration on Sunday 1st April. The concert was organised by Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and was attended by Their Excellences Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, and Lady Williams, as well as other government ministers and officials. Audiences were entertained by the Kanneh-Mason family who are recipients of multiple international music awards and whose grandparents are of Antiguan and Barbudan decent; world renowned double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, the founder of Chineke!, Europe’s first majority Black and Ethnic Minority professional orchestra; and guest conductor Ruth Whitehead of the Chorus of Dissent and the Elastic Band and her team Susan Eversden, Eamonn Malik and Jen Rutter.
These musicians were joined by 26 local students playing string, woodwind and brass instruments. The National Youth Choir of Antigua and Barbuda combined with the choirs of the Antigua Girls’ High, the Antigua Grammar, the Clare Hall Secondary, the Jennings Secondary and the Potters SDA Church to form the Playing to Inspire Youth Choir. The Choir stirred the audience with convincing performances of Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as well as a special arrangement of the National Anthem written by Ruth Whitehead and gifted to the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra (ABYSO).
For a week starting on Friday 23rd April, the guests visited schools across Antigua and Barbuda, performing musical selections for local students and participating in question and answer sessions. They also conducted workshops for musicians and music teachers including a special introduction to the double bass facilitated by Chi-chi. According to Braimah, the second of the seven Kanneh-Mason children, “We wanted to show that anyone can play the violin and the cello, and that with hard work you could achieve as much or even more.” Each school visit was founded and motivated by six core principles: (1) to change perceptions about music; (2) to open and expose minds to music beyond self-imposed cultural barriers; (3) to challenge young people to identify with youth who face similar struggles and have learnt to overcome them; (4) to educate young people and expose them to international musical selections; (5) to encourage youth to overcome crime and poverty and to embrace novel past-time activities; and (6) unite local and international musicians.
One of the major outcomes of the ‘Playing to Inspire 2018’ initiative was the launch of the ABYSO. According to High Commissioner Hill, the ABYSO “… will provide an avenue for young people with an interest in music to hone their talents and benefit holistically from the proven virtues of exposure to music education. Young people, regardless of their socio-economic background, who demonstrate a passion for and interest in developing as musicians will be given the opportunity.” Governor General Sir Rodney Williams thanked High Commissioner Hill for initiating the Playing to Inspire week of activities as well as the ABYSO Board of Directors “…for graciously agreeing to serve as champions for the development of classical music in Antigua and Barbuda, particularly among our youths.” Lady Williams also showed her support by sourcing musical instruments for the ABYSO and symbolically handed over the instruments during the concert to the chair of the board Mrs. Marion O’Reilly-Byron. The ABYSO has adopted as its motto “Promoting excellence through music”.
About the Antigua and Barbuda High Commission in London
The Antigua and Barbuda High Commission in London offers consular services to Antiguan and Barbudan citizens and its visitors. In addition to consular services, notarial services are also offered, and citizens of the twin island state may obtain a passport application form and other travel documents.
The High Commission is an extension of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and seeks to:
- manage and coordinate regional, international and multilateral/ bilateral relations.
- safeguard and advance the interest of nationals living abroad and,
- provide diplomatic and protocol services.