Sir Willard White for Nat'l Chorale's concert
Sir Willard White in performance. (Photo: Observer file)

As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the National Chorale of Jamaica (NCOJ) will be hosting a concert featuring world-renowned bass-baritone Sir Willard White, along with his wife, mezzo-soprano Lady Sylvia Kevorkian-White.

The event is slated for The University of the West Indies' Chapel at the Mona campus in St Andrew on Sunday, August 21. Show time is 6:00 pm.

The concert will be held under the distinguished patronage of Sir Kenneth and Lady Hall.

Musical director-conductor Winston Ewart said the achievement of the NCOJ's 50 years reflected the dedication of the founding group, convened on the encouragement of the late Geoffrey Fairweather and his then wife Jean, to the very highest standards of excellence.

"This sterling occasion will be made even more special by the reunion of some of the very fine voices that have performed with the chorale over the years — it will be a special treat for the audience,"said Ewart.

Born in humble circumstances, Sir Willard trained at the Jamaica School of Music before moving to New York. In May of 1971, Sir Willard made his debut as the runaway slave Jim in Hall Overton's opera Huckleberry Finn. He next appeared in the New York City Opera production of La Boheme, playing Collinne (1974).

He would make his English debut in 1976, with the English National Opera as Seneca in Monteverdi's L'incoronazi di Poppea, having also starred alongside Leona Mitchell that year in the first truly complete recording of Porgy and Bess. He has since graced the major opera houses and music festivals of the world. Sir Willard's voice was featured in the Oscar-winning biopic Amadeus and, in 2019, he had the honour of interpreting in French the popular "Chant de Partisans" as part of the 75th Anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landing during WWII.

The couple's repertoire will include some of the works of the world's greatest composer's such as Schubert's Der Wanderer; Mozart's Madamina; excerpts from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess; Puccini's Vissi d'Arte and Vissi d'Amore; La Vergine degli an geli by Verdi, among others.

The 50th anniversary observances will also include other performances of major works and an exhibition to showcase the journey of the group from 1972 until the present.

The National Chorale of Jamaica

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