OJ call for Dexter


OJ call for Dexter


Associate Editor – Auto & Entertainment

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues its daily recap of stories, events, and people which captured our attention in 2019.

Renowned composer and choirmaster Noel Dexter died at his St Andrew home on August 18. He was 80-year-old and had been ailing for sometime.

Dexter is best known for his arrangement of Psalm 150 – O Praise Ye The Lord as well as penning the Yuletide classic Sing De Chorus.

The composer was also inextricably linked with the University Singers, which he served as musical director and conductor for nearly 50 years until his retirement in 2012.

University Singers' current conductor, Franklin Halliburton described Dexter's passing as a huge blow.

“Noel Dexter was my greatest musical mentor who shared with me and taught me so many things... he was truly a giant,” he told Jamaica Observer.

Halliburton summed up Dexter's legacy as being two-fold: the many he taught; and, his love for the music of Jamaica.

“It comes down to the people whose lives he has touched through music. He has inspired so many from all walks of life and was always encouraging you to do more, excel and find your own voice. His greatest respect was reserved for our own Jamaican music. When you auditioned for him you could sing every aria and play every concerto, but his eyes would light up when you did Jamaican music, especially folk material. He described it as the sound of our souls and encouraged us to write our own music. In years to come, the standard of choral music in Jamaica will be judged against his contribution,” he said.

At Dexter's funeral, held at the University Chapel, Mona camp, in St Andrew on September 2, retired High Court judge Justice Roy Anderson called for the composer be accorded the Order of Jamaica for his life's work in contributing to the development of music locally, in the Caribbean, and across the world.

“I hope it will not be considered inappropriate to observe here that Noel's contribution to music and culture in Jamaica and the region is equal to the contribution of many persons who have been awarded the Order of Jamaica. It is my hope that even posthumously the appropriateness of such an honour should be considered, although I fear his humility would cause him to dismiss the suggestion with a casual 'wah you a worry bout',” noted Anderson.

“We now know for certain that the music tradition of Hope Bay School and Ardenne High School, as well as the UWI (University of the West Indies) are testaments of this iconic legacy, in particular the University Singers with which his name will be forever synonymous and which may properly be described as being made in his own image, may not have become the choir of regional and international repute that it is today. I will add that with all the acknowledged genius of the late Professor Rex Nettleford, the NDTC Singers probably would not have become the integral part of that institution without Noel Dexter as its musical director for years,” he continued.

The Order of Jamaica is the fourth highest honour in the Jamaican honours system. Membership in the Order can be conferred upon any Jamaican citizen of outstanding distinction. Dexter recieved the Order of Distintion in the rank of Officer in 1990.

Dexter is survived by his daughter Carol Dwyer and grandson Jhada. His wife, soprano Beverly Dexter predeceased him in 2011.

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