According to dad, when I was not yet 6 he was invited to attend a SACO concert. This concert had a huge impact on my dad. To quote him, he said “ he knew excellence when he saw it and SACO was definitely spectacular.” The rest, as they say is history.
During my 11 years with SACO I have won the National Music Festival in my age category and was a runner up in the Open Category. During this period we toured Curacao and played in front of numerous audiences at NAPA and Queen's Hall. We have serenaded visiting dignitaries and had the pleasure of being hosted by the former US Ambassador, H.E. Beatrice Wilkinson Welters . More recently I had the opportunity to travel to Venezuela to participate in a training workshop to further hone my skills. At 16 I completed my Grade 8 Violin exams and currently carry on an after-school programme teaching the violin to Primary School kids.
As a natural introvert my involvement in SACO has boosted my self- confidence. Having to play in front of large audiences on a regular basis meant that I had to be more assertive and to develop techniques to mask my naturally shy demeanour. In order to put on the type of shows that our audiences have come to expect requires serious dedication and painstaking devotion. When we are preparing for concerts a typical practice session can run for several hours, days on end. This particular experience has certainly taught me to be much more disciplined not only with respect to music but with my academic studies as well.
Having to combine classical music, my academic studies and extra-curricular activities has also taught me time management skills. There have been days when I left football practice and would immediately head down to music. At about 7 p.m my parents would pick me up. I would have a quick meal only to start home work assignments due to be handed up the following day.
Finally, because of my involvement in SACO I was also able to readily pick up other musical instruments quite easily. The discipline simply transferred. From time to time I have played the mandolin, the steel-pan and the piano however the violin continues to be my true love.
Based on my own experience and my involvement with SACO I encourage all parents to get their kids involved in music. The benefits that accrue to those who pick up music at an early age are enormous. There are opportunities for travel, to earn extra income and to have a natural outlet for relaxation. In my own case music also helped to build my character, taught me self-discipline and did quite a lot for my own self-confidence.
Charissa Marie Rhonda Guiseppi - SACOTTYP Concert Mistress 2011-2014.
YEARS ACTIVE (2007 - 2010)
Over a decade ago, a little girl sat in the audience at U.W.I.'s Learning Resource Center to see her idolized god-sister Kara play violin in the St. Augustine Chamber Orchestra (SACO). It was love at first sight; she immediately turned to her mother and said: "Mummy, I want to play violin." After what seemed like centuries of pleading, she finally had her first violin lesson in January 1998. The rest is history.
I have been concert-mistress of the St. Augustine Chamber Orchestra and Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic (TTYP) for about four years now and the experience have been nothing less than phenomenal. Playing an instrument is great, but playing in an orchestra; being a part of something greater than yourself? - Priceless. That so many different individuals can come together to produce one sound is what makes playing music worthwhile. We have built lasting relationships that bring us together as a family.
We learn from each other, and as concert-mistress I have learnt the importance of balance. Not just being able to balance my schoolwork with my extra-curricular activities and my responsibility as concert-mistress, but having balance in character. Confidence and humility, conviction and compromise, firmness and a cheery disposition- added to my enthusiasm and passion for the music we make together, these are the traits that have helped me to command the attention of my peers.
I leave this year, one year earlier than anticipated, with a heavy heart. I don't want to say goodbye and I don't intend to; rather, I'd like to take the opportunity to congratulate the musicians, board and parents of SACO/TTYP. “Happy10thAnniversary!!!” We have built a strong foundation for what will only be better things to come, and I trust that those coming after will continue to uphold the high standards of a member of SACO/TTYP.
Thank you all for being a part of my life, you have all undoubtedly played a vital role in shaping the person that I am today and for that I will be forever grateful. "Don't cry because it's over; rather, smile because it happened." ...Though I hope you could forgive a few tears.
“I love you SACOTTYP!!!!”
Alicia Richins (Concert Mistress)
YEARS ACTIVE (2000 - 2006)
Music has played an important role in my development as a young professional and as a young woman. I was a member of the St. Augustine Chamber Orchestra (SACO) from its inception, and I had the privilege of serving as the Concert Master of SACO between the years 2000-2005/2006. The years I spent at SACO were filled with many great experiences and I am thankful for many of the invaluable lessons which transcended mere musical training.
A person can learn a lot about his/her self by interacting with other people and observing his/her self in different situations. Being the concert master taught me about leadership, team work, and about myself. As I tried to organize and motivate my fellow members, I learnt that a leader must set the right example, and that in order to lead others, you should always be at least one step ahead. I also learnt the importance of team work, and that regardless of how well one player is prepared we are only as good as the weakest link. It is at SACO I learnt that there must be a balance between discipline and encouragement. I also learnt that if you assume the responsibility of achieving everything by yourself, everyone else will sit back and let you do everything by yourself, and so, it taught me that in leadership, it is important to delegate responsibilities and empower your team members to share the vision.
SACO provides a positive social environment for young people to interact, learn and grow together. This is especially important because there are so many negative influences in our society which are competing for the teenager’s attention. I was often so busy with school, SACO, and church that I had no time to get into “trouble”.
I am also happy that we had the opportunity to travel to Barbados and St. Lucia during my tenure. These were great opportunities for us to be ambassadors for our country, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as to network with other young musicians in the Caribbean.
My appreciation for different musical genres was certainly deepened through the years of playing pop, gospel, jazz, classical, Broadway, Caribbean music, and the list goes on. I truly enjoyed it all, and it allowed me to explore different characteristics of my “inner musician”. This exposure caused me to really appreciate the versatility of the violin, which is typically cast as a “classical” instrument.
It would be remiss of me to recount my experiences at SACO and not mention Mr. Kenneth Listhrop. He was not only my music teacher and conductor, but a mentor and a friend. Mr. Listhrop believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself, and always inspired me to do everything to my greatest potential. He always expected the most from his students, and his fatherly approach let us know that he truly cared. I am so thankful for the love and sacrifice he extended, and for the way he opened up his house and home to us. He has inspired me to want to empower young people, and his example has taught me that one of the secrets to staying young is to surround oneself with young people. I am eternally indebted for all that Mr. Listhrop has done for me.
I am sending my best wishes and congratulations to SACO on achieving ten years. My hope and prayer is that SACO/TTYP will continue to provide a home for young musicians to explore their talents, network, and make a difference in Trinidad and Tobago. God bless!
Verleyne M. Andrews (Former Concert Mistress SACO)
YEARS ACTIVE (1999 - 2000)
SACO was my home away from home for many years. As the first concert mistress, I had the opportunity to see first-hand Mr. Kenneth Listhrop’s dream progress from dream to plan from plan to model and from model to shared reality. We grew until the first violins alone were the size of the entire group with which we had begun. In the role of concert mistress, I not only sharpened my musical skill and abilities, but also learnt another priceless art: “round-table leadership”. Music became a form of expression that went well beyond the confines of words. Each individual had more value than one could truly ascribe because the greatest joy was in the finished product which could only be achieved as a united group of selfless individuals. Perfection became a necessity. We realized: every act reflects the group; every role is important; every concerto is “US”, every solo is “US”.
I made many friends, fought many battles, lost some wars and developed a strong sense of the need to fight for justice as I slowly learnt that a threat to one person’s sense of self was inimical to the unity, performance and existence of the group. Within the orchestra we grew to understand each other deeply: we practiced together, learned together, played together, prayed together, laughed together, cried together, got into trouble together, got out of trouble together, fought TOGETHER, and ultimately performed together. We shared triumphs and losses, romance and heartbreak and an enthusiasm for the art that propelled us to success. We angered some, thrilled many more and pretty much just had CRAZY FUN!!!... which developed into a spirit of light-heartedness, commonly associated with comfort and joy, which was ever-present in SACO.
Later in life, my experiences in SACO assisted my professional development: treat the person not the problem; pay attention to what each person has to say; what you produce will affect others; be loyal to your comrades; serve joyfully and conscientiously; and when the time for practicing has ended and the performance is upon you and you get up to speak where many are listening to you, you will have the luxury of being able to correct your words in a way that you never can correct wrong notes or intonation once missed in a performance.
To say that SACO has shaped my life would be too little. To say that SACO has shaped the lives of many is still not enough. Changing the world one step at a time? Well I now know how that looks. SACO is the shining star of the East, a light in my life, for which I shall be eternally grateful.
Congratulations again, and may the enthusiasm and dedication that has brought us here today power SACO on to a greater tomorrow.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
“Celebrate good times, come on!”
Celeste Jules - First String Student and First Concert Mistress (SACO 1999)
Harley Robertson (Far Right)
YEARS ACTIVE (2000 - 2013)
SACO/TTYP has developed a penchant for recognizing potential in young people and using it to the advantage of not only the institution but to the nation as well. In spite of the fact that orchestras are often times associated with classical music solely, young people affiliated with this orchestra have had the opportunity to be exposed to all genres of music. Such an introduction to music has aided in the development of the musicianship of hundreds of young people over the past ten years. Having been one of those said young people, my interaction with music as a bass player has encouraged me to pursue music at a higher level, while continuing to carry out the mandate of this institution.
This organization has been able to exploit our close ties to our latin American neighbours Venezuela, who have had a similar musical programme for the past thirty years and have produced world class musicians such as conductor of Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as Edicson Ruiz, double bass player with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Exposure to the Venezuelan musicians have been a source of inspiration, as all the young musicians who have been a part of SACO have sought to attain the high levels of professionalism as well as proficiency with the various instruments that they use. We continue to maintain ties with our Venezuelan counterparts as we both seek to use music as a catalyst for social change in our respective countries.
SACO/TTYP is well on its way towards becoming a powerful force in the musical community. Ten years ago when the first concert was held, all were told of the grand plans of ensuring that these plans come to fruition. Considering the strong spiritual faith that the musical director has, it is no surprise to any of the members who have been following SACO from its inception that the majority of such plans have actually been realized. Hard work, dedication and recognition of the contribution being made towards the nation have all factored into the institution being 200 strong. Congratulations to SACO/TTYP for achieving such great things over the past ten years and may you continue to be successful in all future endeavours.
Harley Robertson - Double Bass (Principal) SACO/TTYP
YEARS ACTIVE (2008 - 2011)
My name is Destin Dopwell and I have been a part of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic (TTYP) after learning about this group in July 2007. Michaela Forbes, a violinist in the orchestra, told me about the upcoming workshop in August of that year. I eagerly pursued more information about the workshop to be greeted with the news that professional Venezuelan tutors were coming to teach how to play the instruments as well as students who attended Trinity College East/Bishops Anstey East at the time could have attended workshop 2007 free of charge. I being a student of Trinity College East at the time took the opportunity for free education and decided to give orchestral music a try.
On the first day of workshop 2007, I was shy because I knew no one. However the other students in the orchestra as well as the heads of the orchestra quickly made me feel at home. After the first moments of getting accustom to the environment it was time to choose an instrument to begin my participation in the workshop. After weighing the options, my desire was to play the flute. I was given a brand new flute, which was just one of the many new instruments the orchestra bought for students. On the second day of workshop, the Venezuelan tutors arrived and it was down to business from then. The tutors are brilliant, they added to my inspiration. After listening to the expertise of my tutor, I knew that I was given a golden opportunity to be thought by world class professionals. Even the normal price of workshop for students would not even make a dent in how much a class from these tutors would cost outside the orchestra. From that moment onwards, I made a decision to grow in the orchestra and never look back. At the end of workshop 2007, I played in my first concert with TTYP’s beginner orchestra. That was my last duty as a beginner because after the concerts Mr. Listhrop promoted me to the advanced orchestra.
He believes in challenging his students to allow them to achieve their full potential. When practice resumed in September after workshop, it was very difficult because it was a big task for me to be playing advanced orchestral music, while I only began playing the flute little over a month. However with practice and loads of support from Mr. Listhrop, I was proficient enough for the Christmas concert. As time passed, Mr. Listhrop kept raising the bar to make me as a fairly new student jump higher, and each time the bar was meet. I was always a bit daunted by the challenge at first, but Mr. Listhrop never raised the bar without giving me sufficient support to meet it. The rest of my life in the orchestra followed that pattern. Even now I am stilled driven forward by Mr. Listhrop to achieve my full potential. Tangible proof of Mr. Listhrop’s support is the merit I attained in Grade 5 practical flute exam after about a year and a half after I began the instrument.
Mr. Listhrop made all the music and scales for this exam available to me, as well as helped me along the way. Mr. Listhrop’s support has a great deal to do with my success on the instrument, however, diligent practice is also a key element. I implore that more children join the orchestra; it adds substance to your life. Rather than being a normal teen who just sits at home watching television or chatting on facebook all the time, join the orchestra and be different. It keeps you well occupied as well as enhancing you as a person. Being in this orchestra does not only teach you to play an instrument, it also teaches you teamwork and discipline just to name a few. The benefits I have acquired from this orchestra are endless, joining is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Destin Dopwell (Principal Flautist) SACO/TTYP
YEARS ACTIVE (2009 - 2012)
My journey with the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic started in the year 2008 in light of the scholarship programme the orchestra introduced to my former school, Trinity College East with the intention to create its own wind and brass section. I becaame principal trumpeter in this section in 2009. In my involvement with the orchestra, I have grown so much in my knowlegde of the classical art form. I have obtain qualifications in music both theoretically and practically since my involvement in 2008 which has given me a sense of great confidence, accomplishment and satisfaction.
I definitely would encourage any parent with children or any youth to come partake in this wonderful music adventure that SACO/TTYP is pursuing. Come jump in and experience history in the making by this orchestra in Trinidad and Tobago.
My congratulations goes out to SACO/TTYP and I pray that they are blessed with many more years and many more successes.
Keon Jeffrey (Principal Trumpeter) SACO/TTYP
YEARS ACTIVE (2009-2013)
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a musician is a person who is talented or skilled in music, I Kimberley Watson truly believe I AM a Musician.
In 2008, through the donation of musical instruments by a parishioner to my church I was afforded the opportunity to further explore my musical talents. Along the way Mr. Listhrop and TTYP were recommended to me by a fellow parishioner who urged me to participate in their upcoming annual workshop.
My first week at the workshop, literally made me regret my language choice in school just a bit; who knew Spanish would have presented itself in all its grandeur so soon after school. Aside from the small language barrier which I quickly got over, I soon realized I was in the presence of what I would say are some of the world’s best and top class musicians. The tutoring was at its highest quality, nothing to be forgotten or misunderstood; each day was something new and mind stimulating.
Rehearsals with TTYP were beyond my imagination, I was literally speechless; honestly I didn’t think something this great existed in Trinidad. It was everything I dreamt of as a child looking at the Arts channel. Though if after going through the rituals of doing Music at the CXC level, writing theory graded exams and being accepted to study Music at the University of the West Indies I was not sure if music was my forte, TTYP solidified my already solid stance.
After the first workshop came another and from 2008, I look forward to attending my annual workshop as children do their August vacation. However, music is year round and with each sighing of a reed I continue to attempt to fulfil my greatest potentials.
None the less, whether it be a merging of musical minds practicing for an upcoming concert or just a time where friends keep their musical skills fined tuned, TTYP holds a special place in my heart.
Kimberley Watson (Principal Clarinettist) SACO/TTYP