Cousins Stephen and Jada Thomas not only won the Dr KUA Inniss Cup for Piano Duet 12 and under yesterday, they also stole the hearts of the audience at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando.
In an unprecedented move the audience burst into applause as the youngest competitors demonstrated their versatility on the ivory keys, during the Junior Championship round of the 29th Music Festival. In the end, adjudicators Dr John Paul Johnson, Dr Carmen Helena Tellez and Dr Jan Harrington all agreed that while the three participating groups were wonderful, they deliberated on who did the best job. Dr Johnson, in presenting the results, said Stephen and Jada displayed all the characteristics which made for a great duet. He said they demonstrated the ability to do the hand crossover with ease, while showing sensitivity to each other's ability to work independently as well as together. The results were greeted with more rousing applause and hugs and kisses for the two tots. Following the competition, Stephen, nine, a student of Fyzabad Presbyterian School, and Jada, seven, a pupil of St Gabriel's Girls School, both were confident they would have won. "I knew we were going to win," Jada, of Mon Repos, said. "Somehow she enforced it," Stephen replied. He explained: "She told me, 'Stephen when we go on stage you must practise before you start.'" The cousins began playing the piano last March under the tutelage of their aunt Dawn Marcano.
This was their first competition. They said they practised every weekend at the Cecelia's School of Music, named after their late grandmother. Asked how they were going to celebrate their victory Stephen replied: "With lots of cake and ice-cream. We may even go out." Amidst the celebration, the Music Festival Committee was criticised for its inability to attract sponsors of trophies for the various categories. The critical discourse followed the Recorder Solo category, where three different groups and ages, in D 15, 16 and 17 a, b and c, all had to compete for one trophy–the Esbert Aguilera trophy–because sponsors had not come forward to donate cups. Johnson noted the difficulty in judging so many different categories of the recorder, when each piece had its exceptional challenges. In the end, it all came down to musicianship and who followed the example the best. As Daniel Roberts, representing North, was presented with the trophy, Johnson said he hoped in the next two years when the competition was held again, there would be donors willing to give the organisation money for a cup.
In the Boys Vocal Solo 8-10 years, Kyle Mulchan was awarded the Lindy-Ann Bodden-Ritch Trophy for his performance of the test piece Grand Father Clock. Jessica Julien, of St Augustine Girls' High School, the only entrant in the Viola Solo (lower) 19 and under, walked away with the TTMA Trophy and came in for commendation from Johnson for her musical handling of the instrument. He lamented that there were no other competitors for that instrument (a cross between the violin and the cello) and urged her to continue playing. Kelsha Williams, of Chaguanas South Secondary School, beat three other competitors from the South and Tobago to walk away with the Gretta Taylor Trophy in the Girls Vocal Solo 13-15. The test piece for this category was Jennifer/Jannifer. Only two competitors, Naparima College's Valmiki Ramoutar and Diego Martin Central Secondary student Tamarau Dickson vied for the Violin Solo category, but the female challenger was the one who got to keep the Esmond Walters Trophy.