Curating a choir

J'ca Youth Chorale prepares for spring concert

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Come next Sunday, the Chapel at The University of the West Indies, Mona, will resonate with the sounds of music as the Jamaica Youth Chorale stages its annual spring recital.

The choir, which is made up of young people between the age range of 16 to 27, was formed nearly a decade ago by music enthusiast Gregory Simms, who now serves as the chorale's musical director along with fellow musician and vocalist Dr Kathy Brown.

Simms told the Jamaica Observer that he took the decision to form the chorale to fill a void in the local music scene.

“I was always interested in working with young people. There is a youthful energy and vibe that young people bring to choral music. I remember being at a conference in Toronto, Canada, and what I heard them speaking to I realised we were not offering our young people that level of exposure and outlet. Jamaica was missing this type of performance group,” he explained.

In order to meet Simms' standard for the group, the Jamaica Youth Chorale actively recruits choristers in addition to open auditions.

“One of the challenges we face is constant change in membership. Because of our classical repertoire, we include a level of training which cannot be undertaken by persons at a certain age. Then by the time they reach 27, a lot of them generally move on anyway due to careers, family and education. Luckily there are quite a few high schools in Jamaica with a rich choral music tradition so we are able to draw on them — those young people who are already exposed to a wide repertoire of music and, most importanly, have the discipline and focus required,” said Simms.

Next Sunday's concert, under the theme Journey, will mark the jumping point for the chorale voyage to the World Choir Games in South Africa in July.

“It is really an ambitious project which will cost a a lot of money, but we are looking forward to representing Jamaica. The music and theme will be synonymous with our journey to South Africa. The music will represent a mixture of textures, feelings and ideas and is set to take patrons on an experience for the soul, and it is our intention to have our patrons leave the concert better than when they arrived,” Simms added.

— Richard Johnson




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