Generally, people of differing cultures walk and talk with a certain rhythm that is reflected in their music; for the Caribbean, it’s an upbeat, intense, pulsating sound.
Almost on the polar opposite of Caribbean calypso and soca is classical music with its controlled classically-cultured sound. However, the two sounds do meet as an art form for storytelling. “Classical music” as a term first surfaced around 1829 according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and Jeanine De Bique, Trinidadian-born soprano, made her debut in 2009.
De Bique’s journey began singing in the school choir and participating in the Music Festival and SanFest while in Trinidad, where she learned to play the piano. The words “you know, you could have a career in this” from her choir director and piano teacher was all the extra encouragement needed, and Jeanine found herself in the Manhattan School of Music, where she completed her undergrad studies, her Masters, and one year of professional studies.
The colorful Caribbean flavor is evident, as the Washington Post, described Jeanine’s soprano pieces as full of “dramatic presence and versatility”. Jeanine herself admits to being conscious of the ways in which she is contributing to bringing the underrepresented Caribbean presence to opera. Undeniably, according to New York Amsterdam News, De Bique is doing justice to this genre as her music is being described as possessing “genuine star quality”
Testimonies to De Bique’s soprano “star quality” are evidenced in the first prize winner at the Young Concert Artists, Inc Music Competition, the Arleen Auger Prize at the Hertogenbosch International Vocal Competition, Third Prize in the Viotti International Music Competition and a prize winner at the Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition (New York). She was also a finalist and a study grant award recipient of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and she received a study grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation during her studies.
Jeanine combines her love of classical music and the Caribbean by giving back and redirecting funds to benefit young people within the region. In Barbados, proceeds from her 2008 and 2010 recitals benefitted kids with autism and other disabilities. Also, a fund for young organists was established there by the Anglican Church. De Bique is a recipient of the Ambassador for Peace, awarded by the National Commission of UNESCO, Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2015, this Caribbean bred soprano coordinated with the National Cultural Foundation Barbados, the Rotary Club South and the World Doctors ‘to perform Mahler 4 at the Frank Colleymore Hall. The concerts did not only promote classical music with its inclusion of the members of the National Youth Orchestra who performed with the orchestra, but proceeds from that event were used to purchase special auditory equipment for the children’s ward of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Some of De Bique’s recent highlights within the last two years include: Micäela in Carmen at Opera Santa Barbara, her Berlin debut in Arvo Pärt’s Como la cierva sedienta with the Konzerthausorchester under Iván Fischer, Handel’s Messiah with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a recital at the Ravinia Festival and her debut at De Nationale Opera Amsterdam as Annio in Peter Sellars’ Salzburg production.
She also gave highly acclaimed debuts at the Salzburg Festival as Annio in a new production of La Clemenza di Tito by Peter Sellars and at the BBC PROMS and the Aldeburgh Festival with the Chineke Orchestra in works by Handel.
Other highlights of the upcoming season include her role debut as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro at Arizona Opera; Donna Anna with Opéra national du Rhin and Aida in Caruso in Havana by Micha Hamel, a new production produced by National Dutch Opera.
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby is a dynamic therapist currently pursuing her Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD). She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and has trained as a cyber counselor. Her areas of experience, expertise, and interest include child development, sexual and reproductive health, gender-related matters, marriage and family life and promoting the idea of positive psychology, using strengths to support mental health and wellbeing.
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