JYC goes virtual for Christmas

JYC goes virtual for Christmas

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 20, 2020

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JAMAICA Youth Chorale (JYC) is pulling out all the stops to ensure no one in its audience is left out this holiday season. As has become the norm in the world of entertainment, the local choir is taking its annual Christmas concert into the virtual realm.

The JYC calendar event will be staged this Sunday, December 20 on local station Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) as well as on the choir's YouTube page.

Artistic director and founder of the choir Gregory Simms shared that with the current pandemic the choir had to shift things, but it was clear that the audience had to be treated to some music for the season.

“With everything that's going on we had to change up things. Ususally we would be having our Christmas concert season at the Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at UWI, but COVID ruined that. So, we have partnered with PBCJ and recorded the event which will be aired on Sunday,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

However, given the times, meeting and rehearsing for this virtual concert came with its fair share of challenges.

Simms exlained that pulling off the performance, which has been dubbed A Joyful Christmas, presented a steep learning curve for the choir, as it marked a sharp departure from what the members have been accustomed to.

“It was a very different experience. For one, the sound is very different as the members of the choir are performing in masks, and the spacial requirements also presented a challenge. When you consider that a choir is all about communing and coming together, this was quite a change for us.”

The pieces chosen for Sunday's concert have also been dictated by the times. Simms noted that the restrictions did not allow for the exploration of a lot of new material and as a result, the presenation will feature mainly tried and tested favourites, with very few new works.

“We were only able to have about three short rehearsals – the curfew also played a role in that. So we sent out the recordings to the members – who had to do a lot more individual work – then just before the recording we held an outdoor rehearsal to pull everything together. But they are such a talented set of young people; they impress me all the time. The overall sound is different but I'm satisfied with how it turned out,” said Simms.

Sunday's concert will also feature local tenor Rory Baugh as special guest performer as well as veteran broadcaster and actress Fae Ellington. Pianist Stephen Shaw-Naar will accompany the choir.

Looking forward, Simms noted that given the pandemic a wait-and-see approach will have to be taken as it relates to physical performances.

“As a choir we live for performances...stepping on a stage is what we are all about, and we feel empty without that experience. But right now we can't do that so moving forward, we are reconsidering our approach to sharing our talent. The JYC has always been active on social media but now we will have to look into creating content for our YouTube platform until it is that we can all step into a concert hall once again,” Simms said.


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