Patois cantata returns

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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Jiizas A Go Baan, the nativity production told in the Jamaican Patois, makes its way back to the stage this advent season. Composer and director, Dr Andrew Marshall, will join forces with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica and the Jamaica Choral Scholars to present the work at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on December 7.

The musical work, which premièred in 2017 and was remounted in 2018 with full orchestra to critical acclaim, features solos and choral pieces written with text mainly from the Patois Bible with a musical score in the classical genre.

Marshall, who is currently the associate professor of music at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama in the United States, and was formerly an associate professor at the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, is no stranger to compositions which draw heavily on the cultural and historical themes of Jamaican life and his own Christian faith.

“The musical work Jiizas A Go Baan, first and foremost celebrates the ground-breaking work that the team at the Bible Society of the West Indies have done in translating the scriptures to the familiar Jamaican tongue. The musical setting seeks, determinedly, to express the Jamaican text through instrumental, solo and choral interpretations, capturing the emotional highs and lows experienced by the key characters surrounding the birth of Jesus. My hope is that the audience will be inspired afresh by a new retelling of a story that has touched countless millions of lives for centuries around the world.”

Marshall's body of work includes orchestral symphonies Run-a-Boat, Nyabinghi and Kongkongkraba. Other extended works in his catalogue include the opera, Hardtalk, Reggae Mass for mixed chorus and orchestra, Revivalist Suite and Wa Jiizas Priich Se Pan Di Mountn — a suite of settings of the Beatitudes.

The production will feature performances by soprano Denise Grant; Rosette Salazar, mezzo-soprano; Karim Chang, tenor and Calynton Blake, bass. The chorus will be formed by the Jamaica Choral Scholars, a group formed and directed by Marshall.

Conductor and musical director of the orchestra Franklin Haliburton noted that his group is looking forward to provide the accompaniment for this strong piece of Jamaican music.

“I think that this is a most significant cultural development and I encourage members of the public who have not yet seen it to come out and enjoy this unique and outstanding production. It should serve as a wonderful start to the Christmas season,” he said.


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