Gretta Taylor (née Francis) is a musician and teacher from Trinidad and Tobago. She is the conductor and musical director of The Marionettes Chorale (1974–present). She received the Hummingbird Medal—Gold in 1990 for "outstanding services to music and culture in Trinidad and Tobago".
Education and career
Taylor (M.A., Dip Ed., H.B.M. Gold) was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Dr. Aldwin Gerard Francis and magistrate Lorna Kilgour Francis. Taylor attended St. Rose's school and then St. Joseph's Convent (both in Port of Spain), and received a Bachelor of Arts in French, Spanish and Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Medieval Studies (French & Spanish) from the University of Toronto (Canada). She completed a Bilingual Secretarial Studies course at St. Godric's College in London, England; and a Diploma in Education (Dip.Ed) from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (UWI).
She returned to Trinidad after touring with the University of Toronto choir (including a performance at the 1st International Choral Festival, at Lincoln Center in New York City, USA). She took up a position as a teacher at St. Joseph's Convent, teaching French and Spanish (Forms 1–6); General Paper (GP); and Music. She accompanied and then directed the school's choirs, 1975–85, and 1990–94. During her tenure, the senior choir and its members won several prizes at the Music Festival for solo, ensemble and choral singing, including the Prime Minister's Trophy for Most Outstanding Junior Choir of the festival. She also led a mixed school choir to the Youth Choral and Dance Festival in Vienna. In 2005, she was inducted into St. Joseph's Convent's Hall of Excellence.
After taking early retirement in 1994, she served as the music director at Maria Regina Preparatory School until 2004, and volunteers with primary and secondary school choirs, including Sacred Heart Girls. She has judged National Calypso Monarch Finals (both junior and senior), the Teen Talent and Twelve & Under competitions, and the T&T Music Festival, where she also donated the Gretta Taylor trophy to the Music Festival for the Girls Vocal Solo, 13–15 years.
Musical training and experience
Taylor studied under Douglas Bodle, Walter Buczynski (Canada), and Daphne Clifford (Trinidad) and completed courses in London, England, at the Hereford Summer School of Music and the Talbot Lampson School for Choral Conductors & Accompanists, where she won the Richard Wood Award. She has been member of the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and has attended its biennial conventions since 1993.
Taylor competed in the Trinidad & Tobago Music Festival as a pianist, vocalist, chorister and finally as a choral director. As a pianist and chorister, she competed regularly in the Piano Solo, Piano Duet, Piano Duo, Sight Reading and Lieder classes between 1954 and 1976. First places and Championships included:
- Piano Duet Under 18 with Shiela Mae Bodden (1960)
- Piano Duet (two on one) & Piano Duo (two pianos) with Susan David (1968, 1974, 1976)
- Ladies’ Vocal Trio with Susan David & Judy Hernandez (1970)
- Norah Grant Trophy (1974)
- Trinidad Guardian Cup for Best Open Piano Duet with Susan David (1974 & 1976)
- Richard Wood Award (1986)
Taylor was a singing member of The Marionettes Chorale for eight years before being elected as conductor and musical director in 1974. She founded the Marionettes Youth Chorale in 1995, which comprises young adults from over 30 national schools.
- "Gretta Taylor Marks 35 Years of Excellence Heading the Marionettes", IzaTrini.com, June 2009.
- "Who's Who and handbook of Trinidad & Tobago" (Inprint Publishing, 1991).
- "South outclasses rivals at Music Festival", Trinidad Express, March 2009.
- "An enduring musical love affair", Trinidad Guardian, 27 November 2005.
- "Gretta Taylor Marks 35 Years of Excellence Heading the Marionettes" - IzaTrini.com
- "An enduring musical love affair" (Trinidad Guardian, 27 November, 2005)
- Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad & Tobago list of local music & vocal teachers
- "Cousins' piano duet wow 'em in south" (Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, March 2009)
- "South outclasses rivals at Music Festival" (Trinidad Express, March 2009)
- "National Icons" - National Library & Information Systems of Trinidad & Tobago (NALIS)
- The Marionettes Chorale official website
- National Library & Information Services of Trinidad & Tobago: The Marionettes Chorale
- "Marionettes celebrate 45 years of excellence" by Anne Hilton (Trinidad Newsday, July 15, 2009)