Best of Ja on showThursday, August 05, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
JAMAICA'S rich and diverse culture was on full display on Emancipation Day with the airing of the production An Evening at King's House.
Hosted by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen and staged in collaboration with the entertainment and culture ministry and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission(JCDC), the event was a celebration of the important public holiday through the arts and entertainment.
The programme drew on all areas of the performing arts, with items reflecting both the traditional and contemporary aspects of out culture.
Despite the origin and style, Jamaican culture was always evident in all the performances.
Whether it was trombonist Steven Turre's tribute to Don Drummond; soprano Lori Burnett's beautiful renditions of the spiritual On That Great Day and the folk standards Lion Heart Gyal and Evening Time; or singer Roslyn Williams with I Shall Be Released accompanied by Touch Of Elegance, there was something characteristically Jamaican in every performance.
This continued with Stephen Shaw Naar's classical treatment on piano of some classic Jamaican pieces, as well as the wind section of the Jamaica Military Band.
The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica also paid tribute to local history and culture with their two pieces. Artistic director Marlon Simms and ballet mistress Kerry-Ann Henry performed the Ave Verum, the pas de deux from Bert Rose's work Edna M, which celebrates the life of Edna Manley who is considered to be the mother of the modern art movement in Jamaica. The company also performed the final movement from The Crossing, choreographed by Rex Nettleford.
The young dancers from St Theresa's Preparatory school did double duties as after they performed a lively quadrille set against the beautiful lawns of King's House, they seamlessly became the audience for storyteller Dr Amina Blackwood-Meeks, as she shared another side of the culture. The spoken word aspect of our heritage was also shared by young dub poet Jonathan Campbell.
Popular culture was given its moment through singers Sherita Lewis and Mortimer. Lewis, in front of a small audience of women which included Lady Allen, members of parliament Juliet Holness, Juliet Cuthbert and Marlene Malahoo Forte, shared her take on tracks which included Bob Marley's High Tide Low Tide. Mortimer's performance, accompanied by guitarist Lamont “Monty” Savory, comprised acoustic versions of two of his best known songs, Fight the Fight and Lightning.
In addition to the performers, the production team can also take a bow for a job well done. The beauty of the mansion and surrounding gardens of King's House was effectively utilised and showcased to provide stunning sets for the performances, resulting in a visually appealing and entertaining event.
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