January 29, 2023

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    USC's vocal acapella group Identity perform their arrangement of A Christmas Remix with international singer Kevin Whalum at TSG 2019. -
USC’s vocal acapella group Identity perform their arrangement of A Christmas Remix with international singer Kevin Whalum at TSG 2019. –

ANDREW GIOANNETTI

A UNIQUE and diverse cast of performers, from seven-year-olds Coryn Clarke and Asaiah Hislop to more established actor and poet Derron Sandy, will appear in the University of the Southern Caribbean’s (USC) Music Department’s year-end production, The Greatest Story, Thrills of the Hope.

The opening night and gala will be held on December 3rd at 8pm at USC, Maracas, St. Joseph and a second Martinee show will be held on December 4th from 5pm. The show moves to Shaw Park Cultural Complex in Tobago on December 15 at 6pm.

The last installment of The Greatest Story (TGS) series took place in 2019 and was centered around Bethlehem, with a focus on the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.

The biblical narrative continues this year, focusing on the life of Jesus.

Kerron Hislop, chair of USC’s music and visual arts department, said the show “wants to restore hope as a society that we can show love and care for one another despite the many obstacles around us,” particularly from those caused by the covid19 pandemic caused pause.

“This portrayal of the story will highlight a little shepherd boy who is an aspiring musician. Herding is the family business and his family expects him to continue that tradition, but he has other ideas. His dreams are big, but his talent so far is a little lacking and his family is letting him know that,” he said.

A re-enactment of the birth of Jesus, Mary played by Kadesha Wilson, Shepherds Shalyk St Juste and Hilton Moore at TGS 2019. –

Hislop boasted about the interesting combination of talents.

Sandy, 2021 National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of Best Actor at the 2022 Conch Shell Film Festival, helped write the screenplay with USC faculty member Tracy Hislop and student Ayodele Cudjoe.

Sandy will perform alongside 2007 Digicel rising star Kay Alleyne-Meloney, The St Hillaire Brothers, John Thomas, Wayne Harri, The Maracas SDA Primary Choir, The Mt St George SDA Tobago Drama Group and Shurnelle Spencer .

Also attending the Tobago event will be Lucretia “Lucky” Horrell, Sharon Phillips, Junior Archer, The Music Amateurs, the Lambeau Anglican School Choir and others.

Clarke and Hislop (Asaiah) are ambitious kids with many talents. She is believed to have been the youngest person to publish a book in TT, writing and publishing Chronicles of Coryn: 7 Days of Fun in 2020 when she was just four years old. Since then she has published two more books.

Asaiah has been an honorary member since she was one year old as both parents are heavily involved in the running of the group.

His father, Kerron, described him as an avid reader, animal lover and loves storytelling.

“He even helped his mother write the script and volunteered to be part of this year’s cast. He was a keynote speaker at a number of church events,” Hislop said.

The production will include a score of brand new music by USC ensembles including the Concert Band, Steel Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Women’s Choir and the award-winning University Choir and Orchestra (UCO).

“UCO, an ensemble unique in our region, is a 100-piece group with a mass choir and live orchestra performing exciting contemporary musical arrangements,” explained Hislop.

The primary goal is to raise funds to provide music scholarships to students in need and also serves to engage the community in a meaningful way.

TGS was originally inspired by the biblically based theater productions at Sight & Sound Theater in Pennsylvania, USA.

According to USC, the event concept was developed in cooperation with USC Music’s cooperation partners, the Durey & Lesli Foundation, an organization founded and led by USC alumni.

Singer Kay Alleyne-Meloney performs Do You Hear What I Hear with the USC University Choir and Orchestra. –

“Over the years, our event has been fortunate to achieve many of its goals and integrate many aspects of the creative arts into a unique annual production that hundreds are eagerly awaiting,”

The show has also benefited from collaborations between local talent and international artists, including BET’s Sunday Best finalist, singer Maurice Griffin, Grammy-nominated producer/performer Roger Ryan and Stellar Award-nominated Kevin Whalum.

The first edition of the TGS series took place in 2018. The third episode was supposed to take place in December 2020 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

“Although the pandemic is not quite behind us, we have learned to live with the virus,” Hislop said.

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