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CAHS Music Students Return From World Strides On Stage Heritage Music Festival With Trophies

TRIUMPHANT RETURN: Charlotte Amalie High School students returned to the territory with trophies for excellent musical performances on the U.S. mainland.

ST. THOMAS — Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) music students returned from Philadelphia on Monday after racking up impressive awards at the World Strides On Stage Heritage Music Festival held April 7 at the Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts.

The group, headed by CAHS Music Department instructors Luben Daniel, Naomi Toussaint-Williams, Francis Callwood and Roslyn David, consisted of 78 student-musicians and their chaperones.

The concert band, symphonic band, jazz ensemble and concert choir participated in the annual festival. According to Daniel, the concert and symphonic bands played a variety of concert repertoire, including marches and contemporary music; the jazz band performed Latin and traditional jazz music; and the concert choir performed gospel pieces and a special tune with African influences.

“Ill always be proud of what we do as a [music] department and what the students can accomplish as young musicians,” Daniel said. “Given the circumstances of what we have to deal with, in terms of resources, supplies, the [limited] time we have to meet for rehearse–to be able to put on a great showing musically and competitively with other groups who may be better positioned than us financially–is a testament to the staff, the students’ musicianship, caliber and what they are capable of doing.”

Dionne Donadelle, territorial director of music, praised the students’ accomplishments.

“I’m not surprised by any means because talent exists here in the Virgin Islands,” Donadelle said. “CAHS is not new to this type of success. I am so proud of them. I’m especially proud of the adjudicator’s award that the jazz band received because that’s saying you’re above that 90th percentile with the judges. The ovation award is new and it was given to a young lady who is doing so many things that are helpful to her school and the community. I’m elated that we can show off our talent.”

In order to bolster music education in the Virgin Islands, Donadelle has been working on establishing a music certificate program geared toward high school students. “They start in their freshman year and can graduate with a certificate that says they can fix an instrument, teach or perform,” she said. “I am creating things for them to forge a career path in music.”

The territory’s music czar is also creating a music honor society in each district, and plans to re-establish the Music Education Competition that would feature classical and jazz student soloists, duets, quartets and ensembles.

CAHS music students have previously participated in competitions in New York, Canada, London, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and other cities.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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