DESPITE a number of absentees, there was no shortage of quality entertainment at Sunday's concert in tribute to the late chair of the Ward Theatre Foundation, Ruby Martin.
Absentees included the event's patron Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen and soprano Pauline Forrest-Watson. However, the most visible absentee was a full house to witness the event in honour of a woman who dedicated 25 years to the downtown Kingston-based theatre.
The sparse audience inside the Institute of Jamaica's auditorium would nevertheless be treated to great performances from Dr Curtis Watson, The Brandenburg Singers, Movements Dance Company, tenor Orville Manning, soprano Kamila Isaacs guitarist Shawn Edwards and Rosian Christina Moder on recorder.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer prior to the event, organiser Cedric McDonald noted that the acts were specially chosen as they were among Martin's favourites.
Some of the morning's standouts were Schubert's Ave Maria and the sweet Come Again as performed by visually impaired soprano Kamila Isaacs. The soft swells delivered by Isaacs, and complemented by Moder on recorder, was a treat for the ears.
The deeply moving Bread of Life from the Movements Dance Company fitted right into the Sunday morning fare and even moved at least one audience member to tears.
Classical guitarist Shawn Richards would lift the spirit of the morning with his Ring Game Medley (What Can You Do?, Farmer in the Dell, and Here we Go Around the Ring), as well as Dis Long time Gal, which he dedicated to Miss Lou, the National Pantomime and The Ward Theatre.
This would segue into what Moder described as "the best love song ever written in the Jamaican folk idiom" Fi Mi Love Have Lionheart.
The Brandenburg Singers, conducted by Dr Curtis Watson, would raise the roof with Beethoven's Hallelujah (From Mount of Olives) and round out the event with Soon Ah will be Done complete with an incredible crescendo and the popular Negro spiritual Ride the Chariot, which featured the brilliant voice of soprano Dorcia Edwards, who bravely stepped into the shoes of Forrest-Watson, who was unavoidably absent due to illness. Edwards truly made use of the opportunity and gave a masterful performance.