Classy con­cert fea­tures ma­jor J’can com­posers

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Michael Reckord Gleaner Writer

THE WORK of Sa­muel Fel­sted, the 18th-cen­tury clas­si­cal mu­si­cian who is both Ja­maica’s first doc­u­mented com­poser and the first known com­poser of an or­a­to­rio in the Western Hemi­sphere, will be avail­able on­line as of Jan­uary 2017. Fa­cil­i­tat­ing ac­cess to the mu­sic by putting it in a dig­i­tal form is Man­fredo Zim­mer­mann, pro­fes­sor of recorder and baroque flute at the Mu­sic Univer­sity of Cologne.

That wel­come news was given at a clas­si­cal mu­sic con­cert fea­tur­ing Ja­maican com­posers at the St An­drew Par­ish Church on Sun­day. Pro­fes­sor Zim­mer­mann, a special guest con­duc­tor and per­former at the con­cert, was in Ja­maica cour­tesy of both the Ger­man and Ar­gen­tine em­bassies, as he is a ci­ti­zen of both coun­tries.

Also per­form­ing at the con­cert were soloists Kimiela Isaacs (so­prano), Stephen ShawNaar (coun­tertenor) and Rosina Christina Moder (on recorder); and, as groups, The Univer­sity Singers, The Pi­mento String Quar­tet; some for­mer NDTC Singers, and the Sa­muel Fel­sted Cham­ber Orches­tra. Ac­com­pa­nists for the var­i­ous per­form­ers were Paul Bick­nell (or­gan), Roger Wil­liams (piano), Rafael Salazar (clar­inet), Archie Dunk­ley and Kathy Brown (key­board), and Mar­jorie Whylie (key­board and conga drum).

The ex­per­tise of these out­stand­ing mu­si­cians was ap­pro­pri­ate, con­sid­er­ing the im­por­tance of the Ja­maican com­posers be­ing cel­e­brated. In ad­di­tion to Fel­sted, there were Whylie, Franklin Hal­libur­ton, Paulette Bel­lamy, Noel Dex­ter and Peter Ash­bourne.

Whether by ac­ci­dent or de­sign, the mu­sic se­lected for the con­cert was al­most en­tirely joy­ous, and the au­di­ence – much too small for the oc­ca­sion – ex­pressed their de­light dur­ing the show with en­thu­si­as­tic ap­plause and, at the end, left the church with favourable com­ments on their lips and smiles on their faces.

The con­cert opened with a lovely ren­di­tion by Isaacs of the pop­u­lar pa­tri­otic song Ja­maica, Land of Beauty (words by A. L. Hen­driks, mu­sic by Lloyd Hall). Hall’s name came up later in the con­cert in, un­for­tu­nately, a less pos­i­tive con­text.


“We need help,” Moder, the con­cert’s or­gan­iser, told the au­di­ence as she spoke of the need for a build­ing to keep the work of the is­land’s de­ceased clas­si­cal com­posers. They in­clude Oswald Rus­sell, Robert Light­bourne and Hall, who left eight boxes of his mu­si­cal pa­pers which, Moder re­vealed, were “sent to the River­ton City dump” be­fore she could col­lect them.

Three of Fel­sted’s com­po­si­tions fol­lowed the open­ing item. They were Tune Your Harps, Your Voices Raise (from the Jonah or­a­to­rio), sung by The Univer­sity Singers, ac­com­pa­nied by the Sa­muel Fel­sted Cham­ber Orches­tra con­ducted by Zim­mer­mann; the third Vol­un­tary for Or­gan (from Fel­sted’s collection of Six Vol­un­tarys for Or­gan and Harp­si­chord), played by Bick­nell, the church’s or­gan­ist for sev­eral decades; and the aria Lord I Obey, from Jonah, sung by Isaacs. She was ac­com­pa­nied by Moder and Zim­mer­mann on recorders, Emily Dixon on cello and Shaw-Naar on harp­si­chord.

Moder re­turned right af­ter to play the cheer­ful Ash­bourne com­po­si­tion Elena, based on the pop­u­lar Ja­maican folk song. The com­poser him­self led his Pi­mento quar­tet in the next item, his bouncy med­ley of folk songs in­clud­ing Para­keet in De Gar­den, Lin­stead Market and Mango Walk.

It was then Whylie’s turn to lead an en­sem­ble of for­mer NDTC Singers with her own com­po­si­tions. Play­ing key­board and later a conga drum, she ac­com­pa­nied them in five pieces, in­clud­ing Lord, Look at Me (with soloist Howard Cooper), To Ev­ery­thing There is a Sea­son, Our Fa­ther and Hal­lelu­jah.

Bel­lamy, too, per­formed with the Fel­sted orches­tra in the play­ing of her charm­ing Co­conut Woman. The con­cert ended with the re­turn of the Univer­sity Singers to de­liver three of Dex­ter’s beau­ti­ful com­po­si­tions — Wash Day, Psalm 23 and the rous­ing Psalm 150, as well as Hal­libur­ton’s Ave Maria.

As a run-up to the con­cert, a one-day sym­po­sium hosted by Mu­sic Unites Ja­maica Foun­da­tion on the life and work of one-time St An­drew Par­ish Church or­gan­ist Fel­sted (17431802) had been held on November 10 at the School of Mu­sic’s Vera Moody Con­cert Hall, Edna Manley Col­lege of the Vis­ual and Per­form­ing Arts.


From left: Stephen Shaw-Naar, Emily Dixon, Rosina Chris­tiana Moder, Man­fredo Zim­mer­mann and Kimiela Isaacs.

The Univer­sity Singers in a joy­ful mood.

Em­cee Elaine Wint.

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