KC Choir rings in holiday

Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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The sounds of music for the season echoed through the chapel at the University of the West Indies on Sunday, as the Kingston College Chapel Choir continued a decades-old tradition with their annual holiday concert.

One is always struck by the obvious work the choir masters have to put in each year to bring the choristers up to the high standard one comes to expect from this renowned choir. This year is no different, as conductor Audley Davidson managed to not only attempt, but succeed in producing a great showing by his charges.

For just over two hours, the audience — which packed the popular venue — received a treat for the ears and soul, as 30 pieces of music were presented by the 47 voices which comprise the choir. One of the great things about a good boys' choir is finding that blend of voices, from treble to bass, to fill the parts of a work. Davidson and his team were able to choose pieces which showcased all these parts to great effect.

The trebles, the majority of whom are young first-formers and new to this type of music, truly sang for their supper. These youngsters produced magical tones, hitting heady highs in a number of the works. The denouement to Gloria was impressive. Their descant work for Once in Royal David City offered goosebumps.

The choir also showed that it did not need musical accompaniment as a crutch. A number of pieces were delivered a capella, to great effect. These included Carol of the Drum (Little Drummer Boy), Deck the Halls, and Ding Dong Merrily on High.

The range and diversity of music presented ensured there was never a dull moment. The sensitivity required for Christmas Lullaby was achieved, as the soft tones required to rock the Christ child to sleep were achieved, while the life and lustre required for Joan Andrea Hutchinson's Peace and Love stirred the audience. For the latter, soloist Ricardo Smith showcased the fact that the choristers are young men adept popular culture as he danced up a storm, throwing in a number of dance moves including the the most current — Fling.

Armani Moodie is also a star in the making. The youngster, who was discovered by Davidson only days before the performance, almost brought the house down when he 'soloed' with Mary Did You Know. His tone and presence was engaging and the audience appreciated his presentation. He should refrain from covering his face with the microphone, but that will come with experience and training.

With another concert set for January 7 at Saxthorpe Methodist Church in St Andrew, the choir will have the time to make necessary adjustments to some pieces. The choristers seemed to have lost interest midway into This Christmastide, the carol written for African American soprano Jessye Norman. The choir was also too loud and drowned soloist Lucette Cargill during O Holy Night.

Divided into two parts, the first half of the evening featured the music from Cantata 140 Sleepers Wake by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. For this Davidson drew on the experience of soloists Cargill, (soprano); Lieutenant Commander John McFarlane (tenor); and young bass Cayliston Blake, with choral support from the choir. The texture and depth of this work was greatly enhanced by the 12-member Samuel Felsted Chamber Orchestra. Their impressive work was felt on Zion Hear Her Watchmen Calling, as the violins truly came to life on this popular work.

The Brass Quintet of Jamaica, five young men on tuba, French horn, trombone and two trumpets also showed great promise with their presentation of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and the Carol of the Bells.




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