Jamaican suite for symphony concert

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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SOME of Jamaica's best known folk and reggae tunes will form the repertoire of the Orchestra of the Americas and the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica when they perform in Jamaica this week.

The orchestras will stage three concerts — a free recital inside Emancipation Park this evening, followed by concerts at Church on the Rock in St Andrew on Thursday, and the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Saturday.

Among the Jamaican classics that will be on show at these concerts is a folk medley by noted composer and arranger Peter Ashbourne titled Pass Di Ball. This features Long Time Gal, Linstead Market, Woman a Heavy Load, and the titular track Pass Di Ball.

Speaking at a press briefing upon the orchestras, arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Monday, Dr Nigel Clarke of the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica noted that the tour by the visiting orchestra represents a rebirth of symphonic music in Jamaica.

"The past year has been an incredible one. It has seen the building of a sense of purpose, discipline, and a foundation to transform young individuals and communities through classical music," he said.

Clarke said that due to the overwhelming response, the organisers of the events were left no alternative but to add a third concert to the tour schedule here in Jamaica, hence the free concert in Emancipation Park later today.

"The concert will see the largest assembly of classical musicians ever gathered in the park, as the visiting orchestra will be playing alongside our National Youth Orchestra and treating listeners to music from the romantic era, as well as classical arrangements to some popular Jamaican music," said Clarke.

Also speaking at the briefing, Mark Gillespie, artistic director and general manager of the visiting orchestra, said how pleased he was to be in Jamaica and hoped the visit would be fruitful for all concerned.

The performance by the 90-member-strong Orchestra of the Americas forms part of a Caribbean tour by this potpourri of young musicians representing more than 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere, including one Jamaican violinist Gabriel Walters. Their tour of the region this year has taken them to Dominica and Haiti with Jamaica being the final stop.




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