Acclaimed Composer Honoured At Cultural Icons Concert.
ACCLAIMED Saint Lucian composer, Charles Cadet, got a tribute that was on par with his musical genius last Sunday evening at the newly-refurbished National Cultural Centre.
Cadet, 90, known for composing such musical masterpieces as “Chanson Marianne”, “Ode to an Artist”, “Estephane”, “An Tan Sa La” and “Poinsettia Blossoms”, was the featured artist at the Cadet Concert, the inaugural of the Cultural Icons Series.
The concert was organized by the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) in collaboration with the St. Lucia School of Music (SLSM) and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB).
Over 100 musicians came together to give choral and solo performances in tribute to Cadet who has been able to bridge generations of Saint Lucians through his music. The large cast performed songs that fall into the musical genres Cadet specialized in – sacred, folk, jazz and contemporary.
Performances on the evening came from the Combined Choir, Derede Williams, Special Blend, ElraErmay, the Combined Symphony, Andreya Nicholson, Alibi, Lennie Stone, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, Marie-Eve Augier, Nahoma “Ready” Jn. Baptiste and Shayne Ross.
One of Cadet’s newest compositions, “La Fen Jounen”, was premiered at the concert. The song, a folk requiem, was arranged and orchestrated by Gregory Piper. Joyce Auguste, who was instrumental in including Cadet’s songs in the school programme many years ago, and the Saint Lucia School of Music’s Alejandro Rutty, also orchestrated some of the performances.
Scores of patrons, including Governor-General Dame PearletteLouisy, turned up for the event that many later confessed churned out feelings of nostalgia and appreciation for a man whose music has served to inspire past and present musicians. Cadet, too, seemed thrilled with the high level of appreciation for his work.
“This has been a wonderful evening,” Cadet told the audience during a 15-minute speech after the concert.
Cadet said the evening was a nostalgic one and expressed appreciation for playwright Roderick Walcott (deceased) with whom he worked on many projects, including “Banjo Man” and “Song of the Guitar Man”.
“What I want to say to you tonight is how much I miss “Roddy” Walcott. So much of the music you heard tonight comes from the plays that he wrote and I was privileged to write music for them,” Cadet said.
While he expressed gratitude for the recognition he received last Sunday, Cadet said Walcott was another Saint Lucian who wore his country’s pride on his sleeves wherever he went. He suggested that the late playwright’s tribute should follow in like manner.
“Roddy resided in Canada but his heart was always in Saint Lucia,” Cadet said. “His soul was always in Saint Lucia. The plays that he wrote have their souls in Saint Lucia. But Saint Lucia did not always reciprocate that love that Roddy had. At times, he was promised things that never materialized. I’m hoping tonight’s event which sees me here means that things are changing.”
Born in 1924 into a family deeply immersed into music, Cadet had an abundance of musical influences around him. His father played the cornet, his uncle the violin, his aunts sang solos in the church choirs and concerts.
He soon developed an interest in Gregorian chants, as is evident in his “Ode to an Artist”, “An Tan Sa La” and “A Creole Kiss of Peace and Psalm”. His experience of choral harmonies inspired compositions such as “The Folk Mass” (composed in honour of Saint Lucia’s Independence from Britain in 1979) and “Dream Before Freedom” (a cantata in tribute to Jamaica’s 25th anniversary of Independence.
A former member of the Saint Lucia Arts Guild, Cadet credits mentor Harold Simmons for inspiring his creativity to dovetail with patriotism. Cadet has over the years received many awards for his musical genius and service to country. Below are some of them:
• Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
• Saint Lucia Cross, for distinguished and outstanding service to Saint Lucia (2005)
• Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) (1987)
• Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1980)
• Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) (1972)
• The first recipient of the M&C Fine Arts Lifetime Achievement Award
• Inductee, Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s Hall of Fame