Sunday, 21 April 2013

Paraguayan band Sembrador supports Trinidad cathedral restoration cause

An article published in the Trinidad Guardian dated Sunday April 21st 2013, and written by  Vernon Khelawan speaks of a band from Paraguay coming to Trinidad to perform so as to raise funds for the restoration project of the Cathedral in Port of Spain.

The ongoing restoration work, now in full flow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Port-of-Spain, has attracted the attention of folks in the South American country of Paraguay who are willing to assist in the project by way of giving of their musical talent.

Assistance will come in the form of a highly rated Paraguayan band coming to Trinidad and Tobago for a series of concerts, which they will do free of charge and which will also feature several of this country’s top local artistes. The connection has come through Archbishop Joseph Harris, who spent many of his early years in his priesthood ministering in that country.

Archbishop Harris is well known in Paraguay as was manifested by the presence of a group of Paraguayans who attended his installation as Archbishop in November 2011 at the now closed cathedral.

Last year Archbishop Harris spent his vacation visiting friends in Paraguay and that’s when it all happened. The decision was made to have the band perform in T&T for free, with the funds raised for the restoration project.

Sembrador—the band—a sextet—which arrives on May 13, will do four concerts in Trinidad and one in Tobago. The first will be a free show for school children at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) on May 16, which will be followed by a gala concert at the same venue the following evening.

At the gala, there will be a special guest appearance by former Calypso Monarch Denyse Plummer. It will also include performances by ace pannist Ray Holman and vocalists Kay Alleyne and Wendell Constantine. The last three acts will be part of all the concerts. The third concert is carded for May 18 at Napa and on May 19 at the Southern Academy of Performing Arts (Sapa). The final concert will be in Tobago on May 21.

Archbishop Harris, who is a great believer in his country’s great talent pool and who takes every opportunity to espouse the uniqueness of our culture, last year came up with the idea of taking a concert series nationwide by using a few top artistes, but also including available and possibly latent talent from the districts where the concerts were held. It was a grand success.

Buoyed by this positive, Archbishop Harris lost no time in using the offer of Sembrador as a follow-up to last year’s Make a Joyful Noise concert series, insisting, however, that there must be local content in the performances.

Meanwhile, work on the first phase of the cathedral is going on apace with tall scaffolding surrounding almost the entire building where there is a beehive of activity daily.

The Archbishop said the entire project is estimated to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $70 million and the fund as of last week stood at approximately $15-16 million. He is hoping that the work is not affected by lack of funding because this would mean lengthy delays and possibly serious cost overruns. He is hoping the work continues. “I have the big responsibility of returning the mother church to what it used to be,” he added.

It is hoped that Sembrador, which in English means sower (of seeds) or probably of great Latin music, would sow so many good musical seeds with their performances that this activity would translate in plenty of dollars to help the cathedral’s restoration cause.

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