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Georgetown Philharmonic Orchestra

Georgetown Philharmonic Orchestra

Posted on July 5, 2021 in Our World

Many cities around the world are known for their philharmonic orchestras. Guyana's capital city Georgetown, despite its late start to the game, is not to outdone.

Unlike the elaborately constructed halls around that globe that are homes to these orchestras, the Guyanese public is treated multiple times per day in streets across the city.

I cannot quite pinpoint when the Georgetown Philharmonic Orchestra made its debut, but I started observing their performances during visits to the country while I was living overseas.

The pop-up orchestra is unique. No prearrangement, no practice sessions, and no grand maestro. The ensemble is comprised of different members on each occasion and yet the chorus erupts with precision in a synchronous manner that is deserving of the highest accolades.

I am speaking about every street corner where there are working traffic lights. You would not see any sophisticated musical instruments nor men dressed in tuxedoes, but the chorus is unmistakable.

When the traffic light turns green, horns that span every spectrum of the audio wavelength are honked with the kind of veracity that suggests that the drivers' lives depend on it. Every driver gets in on the action whether it is celebratory, anxiety, impatience or just a knee jerk reaction.

The rendition which I call the Go Go Symphony plays for about 30 seconds provided that every vehicle is moving swiftly through the lights and not impeding the flow of traffic. This sequence then repeats itself with a different cast in the next quadrant of the junction that gets the green light.

A naive person may come to the conclusion that Guyanese know how to have a good time, but I would place my bet that they can't seem to get where they are going fast enough. If it were not for CCTV cameras and the chance that a policeman may be lurking nearby, the red light would be treated as a mere suggestion to stop.

Having lived on an island with a relatively small population and no traffic lights, I am acutely aware of these renditions which always seem to amuse me. I am however a stubborn cast member who refuse to participate in this fit of rage. I am not convinced that the honking of horns will help the drivers to get to their destinations any faster, but who am I to judge.

Out of curiosity I would like to know where these drivers are in such a hurry to go. They always seem to be in a state of perpetual emergency. It is no wonder that there are so many unmarked vehicles carrying emergency lights and using sirens.

Without losing track of the pop-up orchestra business, is anyone trying to enhance, package and monetize it? It would be a shame to let such creativity remain untapped.

Since I live near to a junction with traffic lights, I can do without the audible notification that the light has turned green. The novelty has long worn off.

Perhaps the one group of people that would appreciate the chorus is the visually impaired road users. They would be reliably informed when to proceed and when not to.

I am not a grinch, but secretly I have been wishing that vehicles in Guyana come with irreplaceable horns that diminish every time it is used. I will not put my head on a block, but I believe that will teach drivers how to be judicious with the use of their horns. For added measure, vehicles with exhausted horns should immediately be rendered unfit for the road by the licensing authority. This could be the solution to the country's road traffic nightmare.

I love orchestras, and even played in one during High School, but I would trade it in a heartbeat for quieter streets. However, we are in Guyana and perhaps that is too much to ask.

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