Wide-eyed, children listen with rapt attention to the big bad wolf declaring, “The better to eat you with, my dear.” It was a response to Red Riding Hood’s, “What big teeth you have, grandmother.” The memorable lines were plucked from the beloved classic Red Riding Hood. There is now a Trini twist to the tale. The trio who has embarked upon the retelling include London-born French horn player Adam Walters, painter Che Lovelace and double bassist in the Ibis Ensemble Caitlyn Kamminga. The book is accompanied by a musical CD done by the Ibis Ensemble. Interviewed on Wednesday, both Walters and Kamminga waxed warm about their respective contributions. To date, the book was on display at Tricycle Village, during the 2012 London Olympics. British High Commissioner Arthur Snell was instrumental in its promotion. Reflecting on his inspiration, Walters, who doubled up as author and composer, said, “I would read little Red Riding Hood to my daughter Leila. I found she really enjoyed it. My wife Amina suggested I do a local version of the tale. She felt it would be a good book.” Walters added, “It knitted together nicely since the Ibis Ensemble (Caitlyn Kamminga) was looking for a new repertoire to play an arrangement of calypsoes and folk songs. The idea of a Red Riding Hood based in the Caribbean was born. It has the elements of music, storytelling and art.” Walters relied upon his knowledge gleaned from studying at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music. He has produced arrangements for Jingle Bells and nursery rhymes like Mary Had A Little Lamb. Students from his outreach ensemble at Bishop Anstey High School dip into Walters’ repertoire for Christmas concerts.
Kudos for Lovelace
Though Lovelace was absent they lauded him for injecting traditional Carnival characters into the artwork. Walters said, “The big bad wolf is a Blue Devil. Papa is a Midnight Robber. The house is patterned after the old Belmont-styled house. The forest is a bamboo patch.” Walters added, “Che is a wonderful painter. A lot of parents are interested in exposing their children to culture. They do not have access to art galleries. Che’s work is a wonderful way to create interest.” Lovelace studied painting and engraving at l’Ecole Regionale des Beaux Arts de la Martinique. He has explored Carnival, movement and the human body. But it was the first time his work appears in a publication for children. He uses red liberally. And as Lovelace brings the characters to life, there is evidence of the subtle theme of family. Red Riding Hood finds her family is there to protect her from the evil lurking in the bamboo patch. When contacted Lovelace said, “The project has a local and foreign component. The houses represent moving from a rural space into a more urban space. The bamboo trail is the link.” Although it was his foray into children’s literature, he felt that “it is definitely an area I would like to look at more closely and do more projects. I think there is a big market for children’s books with imagery from the Caribbean. I find I am seeing more books from here. There is room for growth. We have such a strong literature tradition. I feel it would combine nicely to create more visual oriented literature.”
Promoting music literacy
Kamminga plunged into the work she had been doing with the underprivileged children at Holistic Primary School, St Ann’s. Kamminga, who is director and founder of Caribbean Network for Arts and Education Foundation (CANOAE) String Programme, said she was adamant about promoting music literacy and encouraging students to gain a deeper appreciation of the Caribbean. To compound it, she was pleased her children Tyler, eight, and Ryan, four, read the tale avariciously. Kamminga said, “Proceeds from the book are going towards purchasing equipment for the children from areas like Belmont, St Ann’s and Gonzales. We want to offer schols for children to learn music. They are responding well to the book. They are improving by leaps and bounds.” Last May, Ibis Ensemble played to about 100 children from orphanages to expose them to the aesthetics and the possibility of music as a career. She boasted CANOAE’s mission is working toward systematically reducing poverty in the Caribbean through the development of quality education systems and networks. It seeks to lobby government on educational reform, encourage the concept of a holistic approach to education and stress the now widely accepted notion academic achievement is improved when the arts are included as an integral part of the curriculum. Kamminga is also a faculty member at the Academy for Performing Arts, at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.
Kudos for project stakeholders
Reverting to the London promotion, Kamminga said, “We had workshops on the piece. And the piece was performed there by a group of musicians. My husband (Aidan Chamberlain) flew over to London. Ibis Ensemble performed Red Riding Hood in New York.” They also paid kudos to Duncan Prescott, a member of Ibis Ensemble, who passed on in the United Kingdom in July 2011. Patron of the arts Kay Logan came in for high praises for her undying support of the arts in America and the confidence she had reposed on the project in its earliest stages. “Logan donated a nice sum. There is a bit of nostalgia since Prescott passed on,” said Kamminga.
Red Riding Hood is available at Reader’s Bookshop, Long Circular Road, St James and Paperbased at Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s, www.Caitlyn Kamminga.com or from Amazon.com