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Hundreds of students gathered at one of the premier performance spaces in the country for the official re-opening of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Friday 18th November, 2016. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts hosted a Recital featuring the three National Performing Entities: The National Theatre Arts Company (NTAC); the National Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO) and the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO). The Recital marked the first official event after the refurbishment of NAPA. 

In her Welcome Address, Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and Arts said, “The National Academy for the Performing Arts is an iconic space. It is the jewel of the Caribbean. This state-of-the-art facility was conceptualised in the likeness of our national flower, the Chaconia – with its petals affirmations of the intricacies, dynamism, and diversity of our culture.  This symbol is a reflection of our freedom to be creative, to be pioneers… to be visionaries.”

More than ten (10) primary and secondary schools were in attendance for the Recital which was meant to encourage the participation of schools as a means of exposing students to the Arts and encouraging them to pursue their interest. According to Minister Gadsby-Dolly, “We believe that knowing and practising the arts are fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. At the Ministry we recognise the need to bring the arts to our youth, our future.”

After the brief Welcome Address by the Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, the National Theatre Arts Company took to the stage to perform an excerpt from “Two Choices” – a play written by local playwright Victor Questel and directed by Belinda Barnes-Durity. The dramatic piece drew whoops of laughter and rounds of applause from the students, who were engaged throughout the dramatic presentation.

The second National Performing Entity on stage was the National Philharmonic Orchestra under the Artistic Direction of Dr. Roger J. Henry. The NPO performed in three segments with the Woodwind Quintet, Strings Ensemble and Brass Ensemble. Their repertoire included Joplin’s The Entertainer, Mozarts’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and scores from Harry Potter by John Williams. 

The Final NPE was the National Steel Symphony Orchestra which had the school children bobbing in their seats with recognition of popular classics including Offenbach’s Can Can and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. It was the grand finale, Trini by Benjai’s that led the crowd to a standing ovation.  

According to Davidson Bobb, Standard 1 Teacher at the San Juan SDA Primary School, “everything was ‘top-of-the-line, the performances were fantastic. The children enjoyed every bit of it. They absolutely lit up and for a lot of them this was the first time at NAPA and their first experience of this type of concert”. 

Another teacher in attendance, Reisha Forde, Music Teacher at Providence Girls said, “Many of the students who came are music students. They learn about these things in the classroom so seeing this show was beneficial to them. Our National instrument was particularly good. It’s always exciting to see classical pieces done on the steelpan because we tend to associate them only with calypso or soca”.

The National Academy for the Performing Arts, one of the Performance Spaces under the purview of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, was opened seven years ago and is now re-open after refurbishment works. It is now home to the three National Performing Entities (NPE) and they would conduct all their rehearsals in one of the premier performance spaces in Trinidad and Tobago. The space is well outfitted for theatrical and musical performances and will provide a space for not only the performers but also their various stakeholders: audiences, patrons of the arts and the general public to be inspired.