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Pat Bishop—an example to follow

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pat Bishop was one of the most versatile Caribbean women of our day. A citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by birth, she was a national scholarship winner from Bishop Anstey High School. She proceeded to King’s College, Durham University, where she studied Art. Upon completion of this degree, Bishop returned to Trinidad where she taught art at her Alma Mater for a few years. Her restless spirit, however, led her to UWl, Mona campus, where she subsequently received her master’s in West Indian history, her thesis being “Runaway Slaves in Jamaica— 1807 to 1823.”

Bishop lectured history at UWl—at both the Mona and St Augustine campuses—for some eight years. She was also a lecturer in the history of art and design at the Jamaica School of Art from 1970 to 1972. It was this combination of study in both the arts and history of the Caribbean that later blossomed into her deep interest in, and pioneering work with the steelband movement in Trinidad. She focused this interest with the WITCO Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and as its conductor took the band on eight major USA tours including two major concerts at Carnegie Music Hall.

She was the first to conduct a combined steelband and symphony orchestra, this being the Desperadoes and the New York Pops Symphony in mid-1980s. It is as the musical director of The Lydian Singers that Bishop had been able to bring to audiences in Trinidad and abroad her talent as a musician, producing first-class performances of the great classics by Verdi, Rossini, Dvorak, and Beethoven. She has exhibited her work not only in Trinidad, but also in Barbados and London. Of interest, she exhibited 37 miniatures, wooden bas-reliefs and objects on the subject of the “Journey of the Magi”—a series on the pursuit of disinterested wisdom and its consequences.

In 1994, Bishop received the Trinity Cross, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest National Award for her contribution in the field of art and community service. When asked as to her future hopes, she replied, “that my countrymen may find their place in the sun...though that seems now, to be so remote as to be impossible.


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