Complete History

In 1979, Mrs. Joyce Spence, legendary Music Mistress of Bishop Anstey High School, brought together mainly past pupils of that school to prepare for the Music Festival of the following year. This small group of twenty singers was billed as the Lydian Singers who were so successful at the festival that it was decided to invite a few more voices and to include some male voices. These were mainly from St. Mary's College. The group performed brilliantly at the next Music Festival in 1982, as well as at a few concert performances. Sadly, later that year, Mrs. Spence's health forced her to give up directing the choir and Miss Alma Pierre led the group to a major concert The Wedding of Hiawatha performed at All Saints Hall after which she too retired.

Luckily for the then leaderless group, in 1987 Miss Pat Bishop agreed to take up the baton, and has been musical director from then to the present time. She has not only led the choir, but has also fused the singers with her other love, the steelband. At first, the choir was accompanied by various steelbands, Witco Desperadoes, Amoco Renegades, but eventually, miss Bishop, along with Mr. Ben Jackson and Miss Loraine Granderson, nurtured the Lydian Steel, a group of very capable youngsters who are music literate and who are making waves and raves here and abroad. She has also introduced African and Tassa drummers, and dancers from folk and Ballet disciplines.

The choir has grown from that small beginning to over one hundred voices, her open-door policy paying off brilliantly in attracting some outstanding performers. These she has encouraged and trained for solo work, often losing some of them to musical careers overseas, the others, such as the internationally acclaimed, Eddie Cumberbatch, the talented Randal Robinson, Joanne Pyle, Glenis Yearwood and Jenny Archer remaining here to add lustre to local performances.

That is not all that Miss Bishop has done to change the face and direction of this group. At first, when she began directing the Lydian Singers, she concentrated on the Music Festival and entered the choir and soloists in several classes. Eventually, the choir proved itself beyond question a force to be reckoned with, culminating in 1987 as Most Outstanding Choir and in 1990 with Eddie Cumberbatch walking away with 8 trophies and sharing 2 others with Glenis Yearwood who had won the soprano solo, Joanne Pyle the Mezzo soprano class and Jenny Archer the Alto class. In 1997, Barry Martin, now a member of the national opera company of Great Britain, was awarded Most Outstanding Performer ; three awards went to the male choir including Most Outstanding Adult Choir. In 1999 winner of the Ashdown Cup (Lydian Males), the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce Cup (Lydian Ladies), the Edric Connor Memorial Trophy for best Folk Song Solo- Germaine Wilson, and Merchant's Cup for Most Outstanding Adult Choir (Lydian Males).

In the meantime, Miss Bishop decided on some other projects in the form of major concerts which challenged the choir and enriched its repertoire. These concerts included The Verdi Requiem accompanied by the Trinidad and Tobago Orchestra; (more recently, she reproduced the Verdi Requiem, accompanied this time by the Lydian Steel.) Other successful works included the Stabat Mater by Rossini, The Misa Solemnis by Beethoven, the Misa Criola and Misa Luba. By then, the Lydian Steel and Lydian Drummers raised the sound to new heights and Miss Bishop turned to Opera, first in the form of arias offered by her main soloists at concerts and then to three full operas in Koanga by Delius, Elizir d'amor by Donizetti and more recently Turandot by Puccini.