Ready for the stage
Jamaica Youth Chorale excited for first performance in two years
Jamaica Youth Chorale

AS the local entertainment and performing arts sector regains its footing after two years, yet another performing arts ensemble is preparing to take to the stage.

The Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) has announced a ‘one night only’ performance, its first with a live audience since December 2019. The recital is set for June 12 at Church of the Good Shepherd, located in the Constant Spring area of St Andrew.

The performance has been billed ‘Thankful’, and artistic director of the JYC Gregory Simms told the Jamaica Observer that this represents the feeling of the chorale at this time, having pulled through the past two and a half years of the pandemic and now being able to perform for a live audience once again.

“We are really so pleased and full of gratitude at being able to perform face to face once again. This will be our first live performance in over two years and we are so excited. The programme comprised sacred and religious music to reflect this, and features composers from all over this world with their intricate and complex music.”

Simms admitted that the pandemic has taken a toll on the choir, as with the relaxation of measures and the lifting of travel restrictions a number of the members have moved on with their lives.

“That’s the unique nature of a youth choir. Members constantly move on for personal reasons, or school, or for professional reasons, so we have to constantly recruit. I have just completed auditions and the new members are being thrown in at the deep end. But, we have a deliberate system and structure which involves our core members as we seek to maintain that quality and signature JYC tone, and that is bearing fruit,” said Simms.

The June 12 concert will, according to Simms, feature 90 per cent new material from the choir’s repertoire, and already he has favourites which, he said, should excite the audience.

“I am really liking an arrangement of Psalms 57 by America John Tebay whom we have just made contact with... that should be good. There is also Mendelssohn’s He Watching Over Israel from the popular oratorio Elijah. Stephen Shaw Naar and I have just been putting some of the music together and it’s really a cross section of works that should make a great listen. Plus, we have the JYC composers including Dr Kathy Brown who will add a bit of local flair to the presentation,” Simms noted.

Although it has not performed for a live audience in over two years, the JYC has not been resting on its laurels during the pandemic. The choir recorded Christmas performances in 2020 and 2021 which were broadcast on local television and streamed on web-based platforms. The choir also recorded its first album last year. Titled Spirit Vol 1, it is a collection of spirituals and sacred works by Jamaican composers and arrangers. The decision to release an album was part of the choir’s way of maintaining contact with its audience during the period when there were no live performances due to the pandemic.

Richard Johnson

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