University Singers' ode to Easter

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2014    

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THE death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was at the fore of the annual Easter Concert presented by the University Singers on Sunday evening.

Staged inside the historic stone chapel at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies in St Andrew, the choir treated a fair-sized audience to an enjoyable evening of sacred music.

The first half of the presentation featured Théodore Dubois'cantata -- The Seven Last Words of Christ.

Under the direction of Franklin Halliburton, soloists Danielle Nelson, soprano; O'Neil Jones, baritone; and tenor Roy Thompson all gave a fair account of themselves delivering the material in the required balance and tone.

The Second Word -- Verily, Thou Shall Be -- was a particular treat. Here Thompson and Jones displayed great harmony, and when combined with select voices from the chorus, the result was magical.

The drama of the material was heightened with the use of timpani, which injected bursts of adrenaline into the presentation.

Halliburton's work to pull this presentation together must be commended.

Part two of Sunday's presentation featured the soloists -- a major part of why the Easter concert was first introduced six years ago. Nine performers from the choir were pulled to showcase their individual talents.

Halliburton himself stepped up to the microphone for the presentation of the concert's title track, This Joyful Eastertide. His commanding vocals added the drama necessary to lift the anthem.

What is a sacred concert at this time of year without music from the popular work, Handel's Messiah? Andre Bernard was given the task of carrying the aria But Thou Didst Not Leave. This youngster has shown promise since his days at Cornwall College, and will in time master this great work.

Marcelle Thomas with He That Dwelleth In the Secret Place of the Most High pleased her audience with another of her signature controlled presentations.

There were also notable deliveries from Kester Bailey, Althea McKenzie and Alecia Forbes.

The duet featuring Krystal Morgan and Christopher Whyte failed to deliver the intended fireworks, mainly due to what came across as an imbalance in the voices. Despite strong individual instruments, Morgan's ever-rising soprano seemed to dwarf Whyte's tenor.





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