Festival 50 for some people began the night of the Calypso Eliminations when some 32 calypsonians vied to reach the semi-finals putting them one step closer to the prize of EC$ 15,000 and the crown. But officially, Montserrat Festival 50 opened on Saturday evening with some flair and even fireworks.
The festival opened by declaration of the Honourable Deputy Premier Charles Kirnon who led prayers and encouraged everyone to enjoy the two weeks of shows and cultural activities but to be safe and to remember that Jesus remained the reason for the season.
The festivities included music from the Jubilee Choir, the Jubilee Dancers and the Jubilee Steel Orchestra, all three were created for the occasion and to celebrate the festival.
AS the GIU reported, “The highlight of the two-hour opening was the debut of a six-member female masquerade group. Historically, Montserrat’s masquerade was performed by men and sometimes included one female as the queen.”
The audience reacted well to this, followed later by almost 30 male masqueraders, most under the age of 15. The Emerald Shamiole Masquerades has been working for the past eight years to teach the art form to the island’s children. They have now performed around the region, US and Europe.
Reigning Soca Monarch Rondell and veteran calypsonian Drago, provided appearances while the participants in the Miss Montserrat Queen Pageant, the Sunrise Productions Teen Pageant and the St. John’s Action Group’s Princess Show made appearances on the brand new stage purchased for this year’s celebrations.
As an introduction to the improvement of failed jump ups in recents years, the event was followed by a Jump Up, welcomed by the youngsters and even children.
So far hosts for the events, ZJB’s popular radio host Basil Chambers, (Bacchanal) Joe West and Richard Aspin who hosted Night of Pan, which took place on Monday night. It was great with the children and the Volpanics, with the highlight being special guest performance provided by the champion Hells Gate steel orchestra from Antigua-Barbuda, returning once again despite the pouring rain experience of last year, which washed out their show.
There have been several day-time activities, while the news that just over 1200 visitors had made it to Montserrat up to the opening weekend. One such activity, Market Day, along with the MDC and Premier’s office tour promotions of developments in Montserrat designed to interest outside investment especially from the Diaspora.
Meanwhile, seven calypsonians have secured a spot in the calypso finals Tuesday night following the postponement from Friday last week, semi-final round. They are Cupid, AJ, Candy, Warder, Andy, Natty, Kenzie, Rakatan, Barry J, Tabu and Iceman. They are now on one final show to walking away with the winner’s prize of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000). They will have to compete against the reigning calypso monarch Garnet Silk Thompson on December 30,for the crown.
Wednesday night saw the least attended show date, but acclaimed to be the best yet. This was the Junior Calypsonians Review show hosted and prepared by popular reigning Antigua calypso Monarch, Montserratian Keithroy “De Bear” Morson. He showed the progress achieved thus far in his effort to get a music school for the children with stress on the Montserrat cultural art forms.
On our way to press will take place the Sunrise production Teen Pageant at Festival City, followed by the BlackIce production at the Cultural Centre featuring in addition to local some overseas artists, hosted and promoted by international artist Montserrat’s Kulcha Don.
All signalling that the Montserrat Festival 50 show and celebration is well underway.
Photos as relevant