Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 11th 2015 Contents B1
for the future ---Page B2
Energetic and in command is the
best way to characterize the tall,
shaven-head Jessel Murray, artistic
director/conductor of the T&T
National Steel Symphony Orchestra
(NSSO). Murray and the NSSO
were recently featured at the Pres-
ident s annual Carols by Candlelight
Concert at the bandstand in the
botanical gardens, Port-of-Spain.
Those in attendance were treated
to the melodious sound of our
national instrument that reverber-
ated sweetly in the evening breeze
that kept the proceedings cool and
His full-time job, though, is senior
lecturer at the University of the West
Indies, St Augustine, and the head
of the Department of Creative Arts.
He also directs the UWI Arts
Chorale, co-directs the UWI Steel,
and teaches advanced singing and
piano as well as courses in choral
methods, including conducting.
Murray is a well-travelled con-
ductor (USA, Guyana, Suriname,
Costa Rica, Japan, China) under
whose leadership the NSSO has
championed the original works of
local composers including that of Jit
Samaroo, Ray Holman and Len
"Boogsie" Sharpe, as well as calypso
arrangements of many of the masters
and classical transcriptions.
Among his many awards, the UWI
Arts Chorale and Must Come See
Productions (MCS) have been
awarded 14 Cacique awards over the
last five years, including awards for
Best Production in 2007 (Oliver! ).
Mr Murray himself was awarded a
Cacique for Best Music Director in
2006 for Fiddler on the Roof. He is
both the chairman and music direc-
tor of MCS.
Murray has conducted many of
the choral masterworks with the
UWI Arts Chorale and the UWI
Steelband, including Orff s Carmina
Burana, Bernstein s Chichester
Psalms, the Fauré Requiem, and the
J S Bach Magnificat. With the
National Sinfonia Orchestra (NSO)
he has conducted many of the
orchestral masterworks, including
the complete Beethoven Symphony
No 5 as well as the Schubert Sym-
phony No 5, the Rachmaninov Rhap-
sody on a Theme of Paganini and
Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 with
concert pianist SothyPaul-
Duraisamy, as well as the Grieg Piano
Concerto with Sean Sutherland.
He has a deep interest in music
theatre and has been the music
director for over 20 productions in
the USA, Japan and Trinidad, includ-
ing ten productions for Must Come
See Productions (MCS), The Sound
of Music; Disney s Beauty and the
Beast; and Elton John and Tim Rice s
Aida. The UWI Arts Chorale and
MCS have received 14 Cacique
awards over the last five years.
Tell us about your early days
bert, where I currently reside. Actu-
ally, I was born in that house via
What schools/institutions did
you attend, including primary and
I attended Mt Lambert RC and St
Xavier s Private school (where I com-
pleted my Common Entrance), then
went on to St Mary s College, and
finally successfully repeated my A-
Levels at Sixth Form Secondary. After
that, I returned to St Mary s College
to teach for two years in the sciences.
Eventually, I studied at Temple Uni-
versity, in Philadelphia, where I
attained a Bachelor s in Music Edu-
cation (piano with voice) and then
a Master s in Choral Conducting
(with advanced Piano Accompany-
ing). Further to that, I participated
in two orchestral conducting work-
shops in Oregon and Connecticut.
How did you become so involved
with the steelpan and what are
some of your early fond memories
of playing the steelpan?
I became involved with steelpan
in two ways: in 1982 Desmond Wait-
he introduced me to arranging a
classical piece with the Trintoc Sun
Valley in Point Fortin for a national
steel competition. It was my first
memory and it is still special to me.
Then I did not have any involve-
ment since I left the country in 1983.
However, in 1999 I was teaching at
a high school in Massachusetts
(Amherst Regional High School) and
the then department head of music
and I decided to start a steelband
there. So, I flew to Trinidad to under-
take a ten-day intensive workshop
with Major Edouard Wade. I then
returned to the US and started that
ensemble which is still performing
to this day.
How did you become so involved
with the NSSO?
I became involved first with the
G-Pans in 2007 when I was invited
to lead the team of players to debut
the G-Pans at the UWI. After that
successful experience, I was appoint-
ed as the artistic director of the
unnamed national group which
became the NSSO.
How do you balance things given
the many hats you wear?
It is not easy to balance being a
head of department, a lecturer
(which includes individual teaching),
and a performer (which includes the
directorship of three ensembles---
the NSSO, the UWI Arts Chorale
and the UWI Steel.
WITH NASSER KHAN
CONTINUES ON PAGE B6
memory of the dead
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