Dr. Pat Bishop was one of the most versatile Caribbean - a true cultural icon. A citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by birth, she was a National Scholarship winner from the Bishop Anstey High School. She proceeded to King's College, Durham University where she studied Art. Upon completion of this degree, Dr. Bishop returned to Trinidad where she taught Art at her Alma Mater for a few years. However, her restless spirit led her to U.W.l. Mona where she subsequently received her MA in West Indian History, her thesis being "Runaway Slaves in Jamaica, 1807 to 1823". Bishop lectured history at U.W.l. at both the Mona and St. Augustine campuses for some eight years. She was also a lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the Jamaica School of Art 1970 to 1972.
It was this combination of study in both the Arts and History of the Caribbean that later blossomed into her deep interest in, and pioneering work with the steel band movement in Trinidad. She focused this interest with the WITCO Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and as its conductor took the band on eight major USA tours including two major concerts at Carnegie Music Hall. She was the first to conduct a combined steel band and symphony orchestra, this being the Desperadoes and the New York Pops Symphony in mid 1980's.
It is as the Musical Director of 'The Lydians' that Miss Bishop was able to bring to audiences in Trinidad and abroad her talent as a musician, producing first-class performances of the great classics by Verdi, Rossini, Dvorak, and Beethoven. She has also presented the operatic works Koanga by Delius, L'Elisir D'Amore by Donizetti and Turandot by Puccini to Trinidad audiences.
Pat Bishop did not let her gifts with the paintbrush fall behind for she has exhibited her work not only in Trinidad, but also in Barbados and London. Of interest she exhibited thirty-seven miniatures, wooden bas-reliefs and objects on the subject of the "Journey of the Magi" - a series on the pursuit of disinterested wisdom and its consequences. Her philosophy, deeply rooted in classical Christian theology and her life in the church are expressed in these and other art forms.
She lectured extensively both locally and abroad on the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, most especially on steel band, Carnival and other Art processes.
In 1994 she received the Trinity Cross, Trinidad and Tobago's highest National Award for her contribution in the field of Art and Community Service.
When asked as to her future hopes, she replied, "that my countrymen may find their place in the sun . . . though that seems now, to be so remote as to be impossible." She continued however, "to be able to believe more fully with Julian of Norwich that 'all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well'." And finally, "to be able to leave this world, and soon, with serenity and a quiet mind."
Following in the footsteps of such stalwart, musical pioneers as Mrs. Joyce Spence and Miss Alma Pierre seemed like a tall order, but as the third musical director of The Lydians expected to continue her predecessors' legacies, Pat Bishop has done more than hold her own. She was in her own right, a national treasure.
For many, Pat was a figure to be regarded with awe and amazement. That viewpoint is understandable when one considers the many hats she wore: musicologist, teacher, vocal coach, conductor of choirs, steelbands and orchestras, artist, accompanist and the list goes on! Everything she touched seemed to turn to gold. Yet, in spite of the victories, the accolades, the awards - including the nation's highest honour, The Trinity Cross - Pat maintained that the 'formula' was simple. It was a matter of "knowing that she does God's will."
From 1987 to 2011, Pat was instrumental in establishing The Lydians as one of the Caribbean's premier choirs. Her fervid passion to let the ethereal medium of music soothe, comfort and uplift has led the choir to victory in 1987 Music Festival, where they were awarded the most outstanding choir and performer of the festival.
Her expert training and guidance precipitated numerous triumphs for the Lydian soloists. In 1997, Barry Martin captured the award of "The Most Outstanding Performer" of the National Music Festival. Following a clean sweep of the major awards in the 1990 festival, Pat's tutorship led Edward Cumberbatch to claim the coveted top honours at the Senior Vocal Recital Class at the International Eisteddfod of South Africa in 1997.
Dr. Pat Bishop addressing the press at the official media launch of the Lydians' production of Orpheus and Euridice (2005)
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