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Jamaica Youth Chorale impresses with Yuletide recital

Observer senior reporter

Monday, December 17, 2018

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There is no doubt that the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) is one of the country's most talented choirs.

For those still not convinced, the choir's two performances this past weekend was all the evidence needed to show the worth of this choir founded by Gregory Simms, and ably assisted by Dr Kathy Brown.

The choir's Christmas recital, Lux Aerterna, marked their first major performance since winning two silver medals at the World Choir olympics in South Africa earlier this year, and was really a chance to showcase the voices, harmony and music which impressed the judges at the event.

The music for the season reflected a wide range of origins and genres, moving from the classics to Jamaican folk and pop. The well-trained voices were adept at each and once again showed the depth and talent which exists here on the rock.

The blend, breath control, diction and overall voice quality was evident from the very first items — three movements from the popular Messiah by Handel. Glory to God, And The Glory of the Lord and Hallelujahwere well done by the youngsters with Simms' direction. Soprano Alecia Forbes is known for giving great performances and her delivery of the recitatives were pitch perfect. One is always impressed with the depth of the voice which comes from her small frame.

At each recital by the JYC it becomes evident that this choir is a collection of soloists and that Simms and his team have a deep pool from which to pull for individual roles. Brittany Johnson's work on O Holy Night was noteworthy, as was the stirring Jhenelle Lweis who lead We are Christmas. Danielle Brown is always a treat and when she delivered Mary Had a Baby, her crisp, clear soprano voice came alive. For the males Hanif Lawrence and Anthony Morgan represented well.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and when pooled their resources for Ding Dong Merrily on High and the a capella Rock De Baby, the four-part blend was solid.

Incorporating the Jamaican experience in this presentation only added to the enjoyment. That distinctive revival beat was added to Adam in de Garden arranged by chorister Cedron Walters; Kathy Brown's composition Jesus Born! had a lively mento beat; as did Welcome Home which was performed by the male voices. Producer and songwriter Mikey Bennett would have been proud to hear his work Mek Di Christmas Ketch You in a Good Mood as interpreted by this choir.

As this choir grows it will be interesting to see where their talents take them, and we anxiously await what is in store.

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