With an aim to truly modernising our festival, this edition of the Biennial Music Festival introduced several significant changes. Change is never easy, but we are confident that competitors and public alike will be pleased with the direction of our beloved festival.
Perhaps the biggest changes are with our classes poring over the classes and to determine which classes to keep and which classes to shelve for the time being. The decision to put aside classes was based on interest in the classes over our past festivals. Whenever a class was heavily undersubscribed, we considered culling it from our offering, at least for now. Our administrative committee are music lovers too and some of our personal favourite classes didn’t seem feasible anymore. These include the operatic ensemble, two piano duets, vocal trios, composition, sight-reading and chamber ensemble. We also took into account changes on the local music landscape and not duplicate the good work of performing arts groups, like the Picoplat Young Artists’ Collective which has been doing remarkable work with opera and operatta. Of course, there are other underserved areas on the musical landscape. But there’s hope for them because we plan to have special developmental activities to revive such art forms. In order words, the absence or removal of a class doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Rather, it means that we see the need for giving the area special more concerted attention outside of the month-long festival.
The second major change that we can highlight relates to our judging. Traditionally the festival relied upon two or three foreign adjudicators for semi-final and preliminary rounds of competition. Accredited adjudicators give our festival a good level of objectivity and rigour that aims at ensure that our local talent matches international standards. However, this approach is costly because it means that we not only have to fly in our visitors from other parts of the world (often the UK, US or Canada) and pay their fees for an entire month. It’s no secret that Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t have the kind of money that we had just a few years ago. We usually receive a subvention from the government to run our festival and rely on sponsors, and as the economy takes a hit, so does our funding. But the work must go on. In order to reduce adjudication costs, we are carefully selecting a panel of well-qualified local adjudicators for special musical disciplines and will use them to judge the semi-final rounds while using our foreign adjudicators for the championship rounds. Beyond reducing the cost of our festival, we will help to develop local adjudication standards. The presence of our foreign adjudicators for the championship (or final rounds) ensures that the element of foreign standards is maintained.
Finally, we have registration, where we have introduced a simple online system. Once competitors have registered online using the links on our Facebook and web pages, payment can be made into the respective regional account. Once evidence of payment is sent to the regional office, registration is complete. This eliminates the need of competitors and teachers to have to make their ways to our physical office by a specific deadline, rushing against traffic, hot sun and rain.
None of these changes is without its challenges. As challenging as they might be to patrons and competitors, they are to us the administrators and organisers. We therefore ask that you be patient as we get the mix right and move towards to future without leaving behind the good things from the past that make us who we are.
Thank you for you on-going support!
The Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival Association