NYOJ electrifies Montreal
Canada Dream Tour inspires diaspora
Janice Dayle, Gleaner Writer
The National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) played to a large audience at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, Montreal, Canada, earlier this month, in celebration of Jamaica's 52nd year of Independence.
Under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith, Jamaica's high commissioner to Canada, and produced by honorary consul for Jamaica at Montreal, George Grant, the concert was a well-executed presentation of excellent musicianship.
Following the directions of spirited conductor Darren Young, the NYOJ gave flawless and expressive deliveries from a repertoire that encompassed a wide range of musical genres arranged for strings, brass, woodwind and percussion. Accommodating varied preferences, selections ranged from Merle Isaac's Apollo Suite to Paulette Bellamy's Marley Medley to what was announced as the world premiere of Orville Hammond's Birch.
Members of the captivated audience softly sang along to familiar arrangements such as Avery Waite's renditions of Hold Im Joe and Happy, as well Darren Young's interpretation of Wings of a Dove.
"This is a delightful celebration of Jamaica's Independence. There is no more fitting way to bask in our glory than to give back to such a deserving group," comedian and National Film Board of Canada publicist, Pat Dillon-Moore, said.
learning by playing
In Canada for their highly anticipated Canada Dream Tour, the NYOJ showcased their talent in the major cities of Toronto and Ottawa before arriving in Montreal. The success of a classical music education programme aimed at enriching the lives of at-risk youth was praised extensively by Canadian and Jamaican government representatives.
The NYOJ's publicist, Karen Prentice, explained that the NYOJ programme was adapted from Venezuela's El Sistema social development programme, which strategically imparts music instruction using a learning-by-playing method. The NYOJ was initiated in 2009, aimed at infusing fundamental values of discipline, dedication and perseverance in the youth, in so doing, enabling emotional and intellectual development in its participants.
The Canada Dream Tour performances were not only highly entertaining, but also served to enlighten Jamaicans in Canada to the important role of the diaspora in the advancement of the country's youth. Grant likened the NYOJ initiative to the promise Jamaica held upon gaining Independence, saying he considered the orchestra's members the legacy of that promise.
NYOJ member Xavier Grant, a sixth-form student at Camperdown High School, expressed his appreciation for the programme, saying, "It instills good principles and brings everyone together from different schools, so whatever rivalry exists, we forget about it. When you do music, you can't think about anything else; It sets my mind free."