Grenada’s Folk Music a Hit on the Big Stage!

Phil Beaman, resident musician, music teacher and coordinator of the Netherlands Model School Music Programme, was selected by the Royal Schools of Music to compose and direct a musical piece for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, held in Malta at the end of November.

The Royal Schools of Music Association was tasked to select one composer from each of the fifty-three countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations. Mr Beaman, who is an accomplished composer and musician — whose talents have attracted the attention of theatres in the United States of America and further afield — was selected to represent Grenada.

The world premiere performance of Mr Beaman’s composition, was at the St James Cavalier Centre for the Creativity in Valletta, Malta on 26 November. The musical composition utilized two lesser known Grenadian folk songs, ‘Tan Jenneh’ and ‘Baby Baby Go to Sleep’, which were re-discovered in Hermitage and Belmont Estate areas of St Patrick by the Ministry of Culture.

Mr Beaman was commended for his interesting use of the songs’ contrasting melodic styles — the first an uptempo melody and the latter a lullaby — which were modernised by the addition of  West Indian and African Beat Boxing rhythms played on flutes, the instruments used to perform the entire piece.

“The composition was internationally praised for its creative concept and storytelling. This is an excellent example of why Netherlands Insurance and I have partnered and are eagerly promoting the Model School Music Programme, which better prepares students for the CXC Music Exam” Mr Beaman commented.

“Unlike other music exams, CXC requires not only a fundamental knowledge of music but also local music styles and the context in which they were written and performed. Students trained in Netherlands Model Music Programme will ultimately be able to mirror my accomplishment, by taking local music and creating a rendition which speaks to an international audience” he continued.

Although the programme was only launched in November 2014, the 4 candidates from the Model School Music Programme received 100% Grade 1 Distinctions from the Associated Board Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) examination board for the 2014–2015 school year.

In addition to his performance in Malta, earlier in the summer, Mr Beaman visited the US to conduct an orchestra for two more showings of his film score for 1925 silent movie version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. He was also commissioned to compose and perform live, an organ score for the World War 1 silent movie ‘Wings’. The composed musical pieces received rave reviews, which prompted the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Indiana to commission Mr Beaman to produce two additional silent movie musical scores for full orchestral performance.

M. Richard Strachan, Managing Director of Netherlands Insurance, commended Mr Beaman on his recent accomplishments and thanked him for his contribution in designing and implementing the Model School Music Programme. “Mr Beaman is a very accomplished musician and composer who is well versed in the many instruments of which an orchestra is comprised. Netherlands Insurance is pleased to have partnered with him, to design and implement the Model School Music Programme which will raise the bar for music in Grenada. We are already seeing the results of his knowledge and experience benefitting the students of the Programme” he stated.

The Netherlands Model School Music programme has over 140 currently enrolled preparing for CXC and the Associated Board Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) examinations in 2016.

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