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October 19, 2021
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Praying, playing for God and the people

INTERVIEW BY LEISEL JOEL-GEORGE

Pierre Leiba is a violinist and mechanical engineer. He was born in Jamaica and started playing the violin at age six under the tutelage of Noel Peck. He currently resides in Trinidad where he continued to be taught by Gunilla Tang Kai.

Pierre has won music festivals both in Trinidad and Jamaica and was also the concert master of the Trinidad and Tobago National Youth Orchestra. He combines his love of engineering and music to build and repair violins. He also does musical arrangements for both piano and string quartets.

Over the years, he has performed in several music productions such as Brian Mc Farlane’s JOY Christmas concert and most recently in John Thomas’ Easter Concert at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

 

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a down to earth kind of person who loves the Lord, loves music, and loves to help people. I like a challenge and like to feel useful, to be able to contribute to society and make a difference.

What got you into music?

My mother always liked the violin, so she sent me to learn at the tender age of six, under Noel Peck. I didn’t like it at first because it was so challenging in the beginning, but what got me to stick with it was when I reached that point where I could channel my emotions into sound, and the difficulties melted away. I also liked the spotlight as a child. I was something like a prodigy and enjoyed the praise, but later on it was about deeper things like connecting with people.

Besides music, what are your other interests?

Engineering, VR House Design models,  Photography,  3D printing,  fixing computers and phones, computer programming and gardening.

How did you get involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement?

Well, that is an interesting question. I was not born Catholic, though my grandfather was one. I was looking for a church and ended up going to Our Lady of Lourdes in Maraval and all these Catholic traditions seemed alien to me, but I liked the music and one day asked if I could join the choir. They were quite welcoming, and I felt at home.

Then one day, I felt a connection with Mary, through a saint I was reading about, Padre Pio and I was inspired to do the RCIA programme. Having completed the programme, I was the typical new convert “wanting to be more Catholic than the pope”.

I wanted to know what else was there and had always yearned for a deeper relationship with God. Then I heard about the Life in the Spirit programme, and as it turned out all the programmes in town where full and by chance, (most likely the Holy Spirit), I was in a Catholic bookshop, and I overheard a member of the St Joseph prayer group speaking about their programme and that they still have space.

So, I signed up one time and made the trek to St Joseph every week. After being with the prayer group for a few years, I received the gift of prophecy and healing and began to prophesy in the prayer group.

Eventually prophecy, through the Holy Spirit brought me to the national prophetic team where we prophesied words for the nation. Healing, also through the Holy Spirit has brought me to Agape House in Diego Martin where God works through us for healing and deliverance.

What does the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement mean to you?

I think the Renewal is the lifeblood of the Church, bringing fresh anointing and excitement in the youth. I feel it is a path to a deeper faith and a stronger Church. For me, it is an outlet for God to use my gifts to serve His people, for me to be of use and service, to be a good and faithful servant and brings me great joy to see His people released from bondage from all the negative things in this world.

Have your music and faith become linked?

Yes, it has for sure. I have found that music helps to open people’s hearts and create an environment for the Holy Spirit to dwell and feel comfortable. I personally feel like I am praying when I am playing in church or among God’s people. I always feel that anointing.

Creating music requires a lot of hard work and skill and one needs to have this vessel for the Lord to use for His purpose. I think He honours the effort and the sacrifice and uses the music itself to reach His people.

What advice will you give other Catholic musicians?

Put God first in everything. Never forget that talent comes from God. Use it to glorify Him. I would tell them never to give up despite the difficulty, playing by ear is a necessary skill as well as reading sheet music as it is hard to predict what key the congregation will want to sing in. Also, it is a good idea to play a wide variety of music, not just the easy ones. Classical music and other advanced forms give a firm foundation for you to be able to play any music for the Church.

What musical dreams or goals do you have for the future?

I have always wanted to do a solo concert at Queen’s Hall or NAPA, with full orchestra and as well, I have a great love for violin making. I want to be a world-recognised violin player.

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