Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

EARLY LAST month, a room­ful of opera lovers came out to meet com­poser Dr Shirley Thomp­son and so­prano Abi­gail Kelly, UK-based clas­si­cal mu­si­cians of the Ja­maican di­as­pora, about whom they would have al­ready heard much. Thomp­son’s 45-minute opera Sa­cred Moun­tain: In­ci­dents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Ma­roons was pre­sented in the Vera Moody Con­cert Hall at the Edna Manley Col­lege’s School of Music. Un­tra­di­tion­ally, the opera was writ­ten for only one singer (with some nar­ra­tion) and it was Kelly who sang. Judg­ing from the ap­plause when the opera ended and the an­i­mated dis­cus­sion which fol­lowed be­tween Thomp­son and the au­di­ence, the opera was well re­ceived. This was not only be­cause of its music, but also its cul­tural con­text. The epic story is about our only na­tional hero­ine’s life as a Ma­roon leader in the Blue Moun­tains and her vic­to­ri­ous fight against Bri­tish troops.

More of the dis­cus­sion cen­tred on the opera’s cul­tural as­pect than its music, which Thomp­son de­scribed as “dif­fi­cult”, “chal­leng­ing”, “gritty” and “not meant to be beau­ti­ful” (al­though it does re­flect the majesty of the Blue Moun­tains).

Sub­se­quently, I have been in email com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Thomp­son and Kelly, who have made it their mis­sion to spread Ja­maican cul­ture through­out Europe, pri­mar­ily through clas­si­cal music.

Cul­tural his­to­rian Vi­vian Craw­ford should wel­come that news. His com­ment to Thomp­son was, “I’m glad you per­formed it [the opera] in Bri­tain first [last year] to re­mind them that though Bri­tan­nia ruled the waves, they couldn’t rule the bushes. Thanks for telling a story of our peo­ple. This must be the be­gin­ning of many more such op­eras.”

On her choice of Nanny as an opera’s main char­ac­ter, Thomp­son told the au­di­ence: “I used my imag­i­na­tion to turn out a char­ac­ter that could rep­re­sent ev­ery wo­man of Ja­maica – that Abi­gail Kelly as Nanny in the opera ‘Sa­cred Moun­tain: In­ci­dents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Ma­roons’, staged re­cently in the Vera Moody Con­cert Hall, Edna Manley Col­lege of the Vis­ual and Per­form­ing Arts, St An­drew.

Nazareth Past Stu­dents’ Sports Day is at the Nazareth All-Age School. Events in­clude nee­dle and thread, egg and spoon, and potato races, re­lays, and more. Prizes will be awarded to win­ners.

Hillz Jam­boree is at Maid­stone Square. Per­for­mances by Siz­zla Kalonji, Tur­bu­lence, Lion Man and Aba­joni Kush. Music by St Bess Most Wanted, Ice­berg Mil­lion, Jacks In­ter­na­tional, Sonic 71 and Black Venom. Gate prize: 50 chick­ens and a bag of feed.

To­day and ev­ery Fri­day Jack­pot Sports Bar presents Come Drink With Me at 42 Gil­tress Street, Rolling­ton Town, Kingston 2. Ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day, re­duced prices on all drinks, lots of give­aways and free to­kens to play slots.

This and ev­ery Fri­day, NK Deli and Salsa So­ci­ety of Ja­maica present Pre-Game Fri­days, 2-4-1 Happy Hour, at New Kingston Con­fer­ence Cen­tre (up­stairs New Kingston Busi­ness Cen­tre). Free salsa classes at 6 p.m. Latin danc­ing con­tin­ues un­til 10 p.m. Music by DJ Drizzy Dre and DJ Chan. Tel: 754-8714.


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