Don't let the music die
Unhappily, the Divine Echoes orchestra enjoys more notoriety for its origin as a Patrick Manning whim-and-fancy state enterprise than appreciation for its accomplishments in music. Still, it is regrettable that, by present plans, Divine Echoes may strike up for the final time next month, when current contracts expire, without any undertaking by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to renew the initiative conceived and put in place by her predecessor.
But if the Office of the Prime Minister chooses to ignore the benefit of such an idea, why not let the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism assume responsibility for the band, which is well-equipped and well-staffed with qualified musicians, seeking to run it as a joint-venture with private entities, to promote and perform all kinds of local music.
And give it a new name more relevant to that mission.
For all those who have had the pleasure of hearing Divine Echoes in full flow, there is no denying the talent of its members, with the band able to perform a wide repertoire of music, from calypsoes to Christmas carols, and it would be a great pity if they are forced to go out in silence.
"We have had no confirmation for a renewal of contract for the band at all," said band manager Tamba Gwindi. "We function with the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and we get all information through her. To date, we have not had any meeting and we are not sure what is happening with the contract."
But Mr Gwindi is insisting that the orchestra will survive, even if its contract is not renewed as the band members are seeking funding elsewhere. "This will not be the end of Divine Echoes. We don't have corporate sponsors at this time as we are still under the Office of the Prime Minister, but we are embarking on making that possible as long as the contract is not renewed," he added.
It is commendable that Mr Gwindi and the band members are not just sitting idly awaiting word on their fate from the PM's office, but are actively pursuing ways and means of staying alive, and their perseverance should be taken into account.
For if the Government can secure funding to recruit a basketball superstar from the United States, then surely some method can be found to ensure that Divine Echoes—or whatever it may be known as in the future—can continue to delight citizens with its musical talent.
Mr Manning may have left a bitter taste in many mouths with his profligate ways, but the humble and talented musicians who came together to form Divine Echoes should not be allowed to suffer because of any residual acrimony with the ex-PM.
This national orchestra, in which a good deal of money has already been invested, can be an inspiration for the entire nation, performing throughout the country and serving as a catalyst for aspiring musicians to achieve their goals. This is no time for petty politics and those who can make a difference should make every effort to keep Divine Echoes alive.