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Wasia Ward

Soothing, sensual, musical

By By Lorraine Waldropt-Ferguson

Soothing, sensual, she strums the chords as if she was born with a golden fiddle in her hands. Wasia Ward is playing "Elegie" composed by Gabriel Faure. This is a romantic piece and it's also very painful but as Ward explains the wonderful parts translate into memories of what used to be.

It's her favourite piece which she executes expertly on her cello. A dedicated and diligent, cellist, the 22-year-old has been involved in music for most of her life as a pannist, singer, pianist and cellist. She started playing the cello at the age of 16 and quickly became the best in her field. For five years she has served as the principal cellist of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic and the St Augustine Chamber Orchestra.

For this interview she is letting her stringed instrument do the talking. She strikes some more notes. Now it's Concerto in A minor by Camille Saint Saeus. "I like it because it's so moody. It shows off how the cello can be perceived as angry but also sweet," she exudes. This piece mirrors her diverse personality and talents but most of all her passion for music. "Playing the cello has many emotions. It's like someone you love. You know it's what you love and what you should be doing. You can get frustrated with it, need a little break or space from it but when you come back to it, it's more intense than before. You will never forget why you love playing so much. That's how I feel. When I perform it feels natural. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else," Ward continues.

Always a high achiever in the realm of music, she completed her ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) grade eight within three years where she received her certificate of merit and also won first place in the category of Open Cello solo in the 2010 Music Festival. Having attended workshops in Venezuela and receiving master classes from some of the best cellists in the region, her skill has evolved with time. The Arouca resident remembers how she began playing the cello, "My mother wanted me to play a stringed instrument, more so the violin but I was not very intrigued. She coaxed me into going to a string workshop by telling me my piano teacher said I should play the violin so I took her bait. At the workshop however, there were no available violins so I came home with a cello that day. It didn't take long for me to stop piano altogether and focus on the cello."

With her unique style of playing, Ward was

accepted into many elite music institutions to further her studies in the cello, one of these colleges being the very renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. However, she couldn't afford the tuition for the prestigious music college but still managed to pursue her dream as a musician when she became the cellist of the popular string group, Alternative Quartet.

Not just an ordinary member, the petite young woman with the penchant for music is a vital ingredient for the well orchestrated and diverse music band. The Alternative Quartet is not just an ordinary string quartet either. The extraordinarily blended talents of award-winning musicians – all of whom came up through the ranks of the National Youth Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago — create a masterful synergy of sound. "My fellow players at the Alternative Quartet are all leaders in their chosen instrumental fields. We are all blessed with the abilities to entertain. I consider myself lucky to be part of such a talented group," Ward declares. A dynamic electric ensemble that gives strength, depth and passion to the music that they love, Ward stands out like a maestro in the group. She brings the traditional sound of the cello to life, infusing the smallest to the largest of venues with rich, enigmatic and evocative melodies that add vibrancy and specialty to any event or show.

"The 2013 Carnival season was busy, the Quartet was everywhere for Carnival. From Bishops All inclusive fete to the Hyatt's Lime fete; we were everywhere and the reception by our audience was amazing. We did many popular soca tunes with an alternative edge and everyone loved our performances," the child of five states. Described as the beautiful dame passionately playing her heart away, Ward was favourite just as her group. With two singles for the Carnival season titled I Am Paradise on the Paradise Riddim by Precision Production and Soca Jig produced by Donadoni, the Alternative Quartet has proven that they can explore almost any musical frontier and they can be entertainment ambassadors of T&T.

In the future, besides plying her fiddle with the Alternative Quartet, Ward intends to continue mentoring younger musicians whilst pursuing her BSc. in Art at the University of the West Indies. And of course, she will continue work with the music school she founded with her sister. "At my school I try to teach quality music education and I aspire to provide tuition for any musical instrument. It was always my dream to teach others how to create music and I believe that I have begun living this dream though my school," Ward asserts.

It's the final chord of the interview and Ward concludes with "Kol nidrie" by Max Bruch. It's a piece about the holocaust. Very emotional and painful but a magnificent manifestation of hand movements on the cello courtesy T&T's very own Beethoven, Wasia Ward.

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