Local musicians partner with orchestra

Sunday, May 12, 2019

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An impressive list of local musicians will join the ranks of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica for their annual spring concert season, which takes place next weekend, May 18-19, at the University Chapel, Mona.

Conductor and music director Franklin Halliburton believes that this year's season will continue the solid and the impressive growth of the orchestra, and will showcase new facets of Jamaica's musical talent and creativity.

“It will be an exciting and entertaining presentation of the traditional repertoire, which will definitely satisfy the purists but will also include cutting edge works and a dose of Jamaican spice from our own master composers,” says Halliburton.

A highlight of the programme will see the leading steel pan scholar and practitioner Gay Magnus displaying her skills on the instrument invented in Trinidad & Tobago. Magnus is a Fulbright Scholar with studies in orchestral percussion, and has a master's degree in steel pan performance. She has published two books on steel pan pedagogy. She previously held the position of head of percussion at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and is currently the music tutor at Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI, Mona.

Acclaimed composer Peter Ashbourne will be the guest conductor for the steel pan work to be played by Magnus. Ashbourne is known for his contributions as composer, arranger and musician — spanning over thirty years. His achievements include musical scores for the National Pantomime, National Dance Theatre Company, many memorable advertisements, along with a wide collection of folk, jazz and classical works reflecting the Jamaican experience. He is currently the senior music fellow at The University of the West Indies.

The principal clarinettist with the orchestra, Rafael Salazar, will demonstrate his mastery on the instrument with a three-movement concertino. Salazar, who is Cuban born, was trained at Conservatorio de Musica 'Esteban Salas' in Santiago de Cuba. He is currently head of the woodwind and brass division for Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and one of the leading tutors in the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica, which targets at-risk youth in schools. Salazar has performed with several outstanding musicians and orchestras across the world. He has participated in the famous Festival of the Aegean in Greece, and the Salzburg Festival in Austria. He has also attended the Ameropa Chamber Music Festival in Prague, performing at some of the premier concert locations including the Klementinum (Hall of Mirrors) and Martinu Hall of the Academy of Music at Lichtenstein Palace.

Performing another Ashbourne work will be Jamaica's leading oboist Dr Althea Neblett. She possesses a Licentiate of Trinity College diploma in oboe performance, having started on the instrument in her early teens in her native Barbados. Despite being a full-time consultant forensic pathologist and an associate lecturer at The University of the West Indies, she still finds time to pursue an active musical career, performing regularly with several of the classical ensembles and productions in the country.

The Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica was formed in 2013 with the aim of establishing a long-lasting orchestra for the country, and to give classically trained musicians, composers and conductors an avenue to express their talent. This year will mark their sixth-consecutive spring concert season.

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