UWI Singers hit high note

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 23, 2013    

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THE annual Christmas concert, An Evening with the University Singers, was held at the University Chapel, Mona campus.

This 16-year tradition continued with a strong showing, highlighting the strength of the renowned choral group which comprises past and present students of the University of the West Indies.

An injection of the unexpected was attempted with the production, The Twelve Days of Christmas. The 'Singers' not only brought drama to the chapel, but also 'Jamaicanised' a holiday standard. With classical melodies intact, the choristers delivered a humourous rendition complemented by a strong cast of dancers.

The script would read: 'A black bud up inna ackee tree; two baable dove; three sensi fowl; four patoo owl; five so-so bling; six jug a sorrel; seven janga swimming; eight Christmas puddn'; nine cooks a cooking, 10 washers washing; 11 rudeboys skanking and 12 Rastas drumming.

The audience truly enjoyed it.

Among the other highlights was the premiere of O'Neil Jone's Alleluia! Christ is Born.

Jones, one of the Singers' younger members, has been involved with music from his days at Cornwall College. He has composed a world-class anthem.

The use of the drums heightens the drama of the piece and prepares the audience for a thunderous crescendo. If only Jone's solo - Sweet Little Jesus Boy - was as impressive. Though the bass baritone possesses a powerful instrument, his a capella version lacked the touch expected of soloists in this group.

The choir captured the essence of American composer/ arranger Moses Hogan in Glory, Glory to The Newborn King. The sound associated with the traditional African-American spiritual was achieved with great effect.

Always adept at blending voices, the University Singers showcased this with Every Valley, A Virgin Knelt in Prayer and Ding Dong Merrily on High.

Soloists again shone. Alecia Forbes continues to amaze and one is always left wondering how such a big, beautiful voice can come from such a tiny frame. She delivered beautifully with her Christmas Medley.

Althea McKenzie is coming into her own and seems more comfortable leading O Holy Night, while seasoned campaigner Marcelle Thomas was a joy to listen to as she jazzed up Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

The Singers can take a bow for this presentation.



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