November 2016

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One of the most beloved aspects of The UWI Graduation ceremonies is the live music courtesy the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) and accompanying bands. DCFA Head of Department and Senior Lecturer Jessel Murray gave us a behind the scenes glimpse into what the production process for the big band sound driving all our Graduation ceremonies’ pomp and circumstance.

DCFA oversees the recruitment and supervision of the bands that provide music for the respective ceremonies (Police Band and UWI Arts Steel in 2016). The Head of Department (HOD) also consults with the Coordinators of the Performing Arts Units (principally Music and more recently Dance) to provide interludes. Lecturers make recommendations and the HOD ultimately decides on the scheduling – though sometimes depends on student availability. Dance pieces are usually proposed based on previously developed concert material.

DCFA is always striving to present music which has a high impact whether it’s a traditional piece such as Old Man River, an esoteric Chinese Dance Duet performed by students who are recent graduates of the Beijing Academy as well as The University, or the equally esoteric Marimba Duet performed by percussion students of the DCFA. When it comes to coordinating with the Police Band typically the ensemble decides on its own repertoire, however, there are certain mandates – the prelude consists of freely chosen music, followed by the required processional music for academic procession, and lastly the platform party. The last musical element is recessional music for the entire company.

Outside of The UWI Graduation Ceremonies, DCFA has been in high demand for several similar ceremonies. In the past three years, they have received numerous requests for Faculty graduations including the Faculty of Humanities and Education (FHE). The DCFA has also been requested for seminar openings, workshops, and many other events. Services may be asked for a rendition of the National Anthem (either sung or played), other times it may be for full scale performances or background music for a reception.

The DCFA also recognises the achievement of their talented graduates beforehand and continues to showcase their multifaceted artists through a host of concerts and exhibitions throughout the academic year. The Dance Unit has major performances at the end of each semester – Fete de la Dance and Sole to Sole respectively while the Music Unit has nine ensembles that includes The UWI Arts Chorale and The UWI Arts Steel (who perform together many times), The UWI Arts Percussion, UWI Arts Guitar Ensemble, UWI Arts Classical Indian Ensemble, The UWI Arts Jazz and UWI Arts Wind Ensembles.

For more information about DCFA, please contact Joseph Drayton at 645-1955 or visit their website: