St Augustine Chamber Orchestra

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St Augustine Chamber Orchestra
Background information
Also known as SACO; SACO-TTYP
Origin St Augustine, Trinidad
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Symphony orchestra
Years active 1999-present
Associated acts Euangelion Singers

The St Augustine Chamber Orchestra, commonly known by its acronym, SACO is a chamber orchestra residing in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. SACO was founded by Kenneth Listhrop, Conductor and Music Director who is also a licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, London (L.R.S.M), with an advanced certificate in violin performance. SACO currently consists of approximately 120 young musicians who play violin, viola, cello and double bass as well as another hundred youngsters who comprise the junior and intermediate orchestras. Annually, SACO puts on 3 performances at Queen's Hall and other venues in Trinidad.


The St. Augustine Chamber Orchestra (SACO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to music education and performance excellence among the youth of Trinidad and Tobago.[citation needed] Mr. Kenneth Listhrop, music educator and conductor, founded the organization in 1999. From its humble beginnings with just one student Ms. Celeste Jules (Attorney at Law) the organization has grown into a group of approximately two hundred students consisting of three major divisions, a children’s orchestra junior and intermediate orchestra, and an advanced youth orchestra.

Profile of Founder[edit]

Mr. Kenneth Listhrop (M.Ed) was a member, chairman and conductor of the former National Youth Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago. His background as a music educator consists of 18 years of teaching at the University School of St. Augustine and another 8 years at the International School of Port of Spain.[citation needed] While at the University School he embarked on a program to recruit young string students from the school for the National Youth Orchestra. Mr. Listhrop founded SACO in 1999 because of his passion for music and his vision for the development of excellence in music performance among youth.[citation needed] The orchestra grew initially from one student (Ms. Celeste Jules) to nine (9) students from the University School, Baker Street, St. Augustine. They were also the first students recruited for the fledgling National Youth Orchestra. By December 1999 when the orchestra was formally launched, the membership had grown to nineteen (19) string players. Mr. Listhrop acts in various capacities within the organization such as founder, visionary, teacher, accompanist, arranger, conductor, music director and friend of the many young musicians that join the orchestra.

Kenneth Listhrop is a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, London (L.R.S.M) with an advanced certificate in violin performance from the Royal Schools of Music London.[citation needed] In 2007 Mr. Listhrop tendered his resignation from the International School of Port of Spain in order to fully commit himself to the further growth and development of the St. Augustine Chamber Orchestra and the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. His vision is the formation of a full-fledged youth philharmonic orchestra, a prerequisite of which is the acquisition of appropriate orchestral instruments to represent the diversity of such orchestras. Since Trinidad and Tobago does not have an orchestral tradition, this vision naturally presupposes the acquisition of various types of specialized musical instruments from beyond the shores of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mission and Goals[edit]

SACO is dedicated to promoting and encouraging public knowledge and appreciation of orchestral music interwoven into the art and culture of Trinidad and Tobago both at home and in the wider Caribbean.

SACO's mission is to be the leading symphony orchestra in the Caribbean, incorporating chamber ensembles, and to promote a greater awareness of string music through a rich variety of concert genres, including baroque, classical, jazz, pop and contemporary music all year round. To this end, the August workshop 2006 culminated in a classical concert in which SACO presented the premiere performance of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic, also known as TTYP, at the Sports and Physical Education Centre, UWI, St Augustine.

SACO will also provide instruction to, nurture and motivate young music students throughout Trinidad and Tobago through its community outreach programmes in collaboration with corporate partners.[citation needed]

Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic[edit]

In 2006, the board of SACO, in its ongoing plans to offer the nation's children an engaging, entertaining and educational experience of various genres and styles of music including classical, pop, and local music in both string and symphonic repertoire decided to partner with Bon Air High School Music Foundation led by Leslie Clement, Glorious Sounds of Tobago led by Pastor David Elder and several music schools across the country towards the formation of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic, indeed one of the few and largest youth orchestras in the Caribbean chain of islands.

Mr. Listhrop founded the Trinidad & Tobago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (TTYP) as wind, brass, and percussion students were added to the pre-existing stringed instruments by recruiting young music students from several music schools across Trinidad and Tobago including Glorious Sounds from Tobago. Another source of students for the orchestra is the St. Georges College, Barataria, and the Bishop Anstey High School East and Trinity College East, Trincity, where a collaboration between the schools music program and the orchestra led to the award of twenty scholarships to students from the schools as part of an effort to expand the woodwind and brass sections of the orchestra.

While the initial focus was on the development of excellence in the playing of string instruments (violin, viola, cello and double bass) the organization has been able to diversify towards the inclusion of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments with the objective of the formation of a full symphonic orchestra and ultimately an adult orchestra.

Venezuelan Collaboration[edit]

Each year the orchestra holds a collaborative workshop in August with tutors from The State System for Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs (FESNOJIV) Venezuela. These workshops provide a unique opportunity for the youth of Trinidad and Tobago to have an intense introduction to practical musical training and orchestral performance. The workshop planned for August 2010 will be the 6th annual workshop hosted by SACO. This year additional musical instruments have been acquired so that more students can be provided with an opportunity to learn an instrument and experience the benefits and accomplishment of performing as part of an orchestra. Many of these students pick up their instruments for the first time at the start of the three-week workshop. However, by the end of the workshop they are often amazed by what they are able to accomplish, as the workshops always culminate in a gala performance at Queen’s Hall or some other appropriate venue.

Past Performances[edit]

The St Augustine Chamber Orchestra has two major performances annually. They have been actively performing year round in Classical, Pop and Christmas Concerts. Each year these performances have different themes. So far they have had successful concerts such as:

  • Flinging with the Strings (2005)
  • The Best of Mozart (2006)
  • Believe (Disney Concert - 2007)
  • Symphony Classics ( August 2008)

  • Christmas at the Movies (November 2008)

  • Classical Nostalgia (April 2009)

  • Classical Mania featuring New World Symphony (August 2009)

  • Classical Nostalgia II (April 2010)

  • The Best of Tchaikovsky (August 2010)

  • Never can say Goodbye, A tribute to Michael Jackson (December 2010)

  • Great Classical Overtures (August 2011)

  • A Time for Love (December 2011)


SACO has had several achievements over the years. These include:

  • Forming the largest Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in the English-speaking Caribbean.
  • The only orchestra in the Caribbean to perform the full score for the New World Symphony.
  • Performing with cellist Luis Leguia of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Luis and Clark.
  • Performing with Kanye West at a local concert.
  • Performing for the spouses of Commonwealth Heads of Government.
  • Performing at the opening of The Beacon Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Festival.[citation needed]