If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a performance of Dominica’s Sixth Form Sisserou Singers (SFSS), then you’d better be sure to go to the next one if you live here! And if you happen to be visiting the Nature Island when they are having a concert, do put that guaranteed-to-be-wonderful evening on your list of things to do!
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to hear this melodious group of young choristers many times. They are a constant delight. And I am not the only one to say that. Their consistently sold-out concerts confirm the positive results of their collective dedication, polished renditions and capacity for entertainment. Thanks to the inspired guidance of their director, renowned musician and retired cultural officer Pearle Christian, they have maintained high standards and have really ‘raised the bar’ for choral music in Dominica.
In 2014, the SFSS celebrated 20 years as a choir in Dominica. Here is a little glimpse into the group’s history and a few insights that Ms. Christian has happily shared:
Pearle Christian, Director of the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers (SFSS) has repeatedly said that “anything worth doing is doing well,” which is also the choir`s official motto. Over 20 years, numerous young people have had the honour and pleasure of singing under Ms. Christian’s ‘baton’. As well, hundreds of loyal fans and eager concert-goers have received tremendous pleasure from the group’s annual musical endeavors. The enduring popularity of the SFSS is a testament to its well-earned reputation for excellence!
It all started when Pearle conducted a choral workshop for a few senior students at the Convent High School in 1993. The participants were determined to continue once they were in their sixth form. Pearle worked with their serious interest and the first 22 choristers enthusiastically performed at the (now-named) Dominica State College’s graduation ceremony in 1994.
After that first success, Pearle’s vision of the SFSS evolved so that the weekly rehearsals and special performances were only part of her ‘hidden agenda’. Her dream of enhancing character development, along with musical skills was subtly realized when the group organized an executive body and created objectives. This initiative enabled the singers to apply some of their other abilities, build confidence and take on external leadership roles.
The choristers have always enjoyed performing a diverse and varied repertoire of musical styles, including classical genres, Negro Spirituals, gospel, and jazz, among others. They also offer a medley of Caribbean folk songs with scripted narrations at their annual concerts.
Every member is given an opportunity to recite one of the verses, thereby proactively contributing to the show`s success.
Although many choristers have come and gone over 20 years, “Aunty Pearle,” as she is affectionately known derives great pleasure from following their career paths and life events. Admittedly, she has devoted phenomenal amounts of time and energy into enhancing the talents of these fortunate young people. But she insists that if she had to live her life over, she would not hesitate to ‘pick up the baton’ again for the sheer joy of directing the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers.
*This article first appeared in the Dominica Association of Music Educators (DAME) November 2014 Newsletter. Content for the piece was submitted by Ms. Christian and then edited by Gwendominica. It appears here with the kind permission of DAME.
** Updates on the SFSS can be found on their Face Book page by clicking here.