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Sweet melodies from NYOJ

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

MELODIES of Empowerment, a free concert hosted by the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ), is being hailed as a success by its organisers.

The event — held at St Joseph's Teachers' College in St Andrew on Sunday --- was initially planned for Sunday, May 26, but was rescheduled due to heavy rains.

“The concert was an overall success and it was well attended. We had many guests who were all excited and impressed by the performances and the well-behaved students who performed,” Andrae Woolcock, executive director of the NYOJ, told the Jamaica Observer.

Woolcock said the event's turnout was not affected by the Powerful Women and Men Perform For Charity concert at National Indoor Sports Centre, which was scheduled for the same evening.

“We are very happy for the large turnout received as we received more support than was initially anticipated. In our observation, the event was not affected by the hosting of any other event held on the same day,” he said.

The concert, a precursor to the launch of the Ministry's Music Sports and Technology (MST) summer programme, kept the audience engaged through the two-hour show.

“The highlight of the concert was marked by the memorable moment in which the NYOJ and the Ministry of National Security has launched our partnership to use music as a tool of social intervention in combating crime and violence in Jamaica. We are indeed proud of the satisfaction members of the audience would have gained, but even more importantly, the satisfaction gained by the students and members of staff who dedicated their time and effort to make the event a success,” said Woolcock.

“This concert marks the launch of a series of celebratory events through which the NYOJ will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. We will be continuing our celebrations in July with an island tour where we will be going into different communities and hosting free concerts for members of the public to attend. We hope by doing this, we will be able to generate an additional awareness of classical music across Jamaica, as well as develop the interests of youths in volatile areas which we happily anticipate serving in the near future,” he continued.

There was a lot of variety from the NYOJ. Pieces, all well received, ranged from the light-hearted Baby Shark to reggae hits like Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier and Jammin'. Some Third World was thrown in for good measure with Try Jah Love. The orchestra kept it modern with movie themes from Pirates of the Caribbean and TV series Game of Thrones. In between pieces, three guest artistes and former NYOJ alumnus, Niala Dei, Gabeana Campbell, and Jamila Falark provided entertainment as well as inspiring stories of their NYOJ involvement.

NYOJ founding chairman, Dr Nigel Clarke, recognised the contributions of the organisation.

Started in 2009, NYOJ is a non-profit organisation that aims to foster musical growth in Jamaica through the use of classical music as a tool to inspire, empower and enhance the lives of at-risk youth on the island. Their centres are located across the island, bringing together youth from various schools and economic backgrounds.