The Met meets Broadway at Mona. Strong performances at 'Music Through The Ages'
Michael Reckord, Contributor
Weston Haughton was lavish in his praise of the concert he was hosting at the chapel, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, recently. In his considered opinion, Weston told his audience, the event represented the best of New York's Broadway and Metropolitan opera, with a bit of Los Angeles' theatre thrown in.
Judging by the cheers and frequent and enthusiastic applause, the audience at the concert - the seventh annual Music Through The Ages, presented by the Jamaica American Friendship Association (JAFA) - agreed with Haughton's assessment. There certainly was a lot to cheer about.
Produced by two of the singers, Carole Reid (soprano) and Dawn Fuller-Philips (alto), the two-hour concert also featured more than 20 other performers. The largest group was the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica which, early in the show, played an enjoyable folk song suite.
One of the delightful aspects of the show was its variety. It came not only in the types and styles of the songs sung, but also in the musical instruments played. Apart from those in the youth orchestra, there was steelpan (played by Justin Lowe and Gay Magnus); organ (Donald Hossack); piano (Jon Williams and Livingston Burnett); and violin (Jovani Williams).
Tenor Rory Baugh followed the youth orchestra, and the perennial crowd pleaser brought both humour and a great voice to his delivery of the aria Largo al Factotum from Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville.
The next item, Fuller-Philips' lyrical singing of the sublimely beautiful Panis Angelicus, marked a change in mood. The song that followed, I Heard a Forest Praying (by Peter de Rose and Sam Lewis), sung with tremendous feeling by bass Franklin Halliburton, gave a change in type of voice.
Solo performances continued with soprano Jodi HoLung's emotive rendition of I Believe and tenor Lt Commander John McFarlane's assurance to the audience that This is the Moment.
Then it was time for the duos. The first was Fuller-Philips and Reid, who sang Laudamus Te. It was followed by a father and son (Jon and Jovani Williams), respectively, playing a number of intricate classical pieces on piano and violin.
After the intermission, internationally acclaimed Nexus, a choir founded and conducted by Hugh Douse, delivered one of the highlights of the top-quality evening, a medley of soulful spirituals. The beautifully blended voices thrilled their listeners with Fix Me Jesus, There is a Balm in Gilead, Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land, and The Lion of Judah Shall Break Every Chain.
Excellent harmony was also present in the trio of singers, McFarlane, Halliburton, and Baugh, who followed with Nessum Dorma.
After another run of soloists - Fuller-Phillips (On Ma Journey Now), McFarlane (Evening Time); Halliburton (In de Lord), HoLung (Much More); Baugh (Stars from Les Miserables) and Reid (Climb Every Mountain) - came the final number.
This was a romantic rendition of All I Ask of You by Reid and Baugh and it joyfully brought the concert to a satisfying end.
In his vote of thanks, JAFA chairman Morin Seymour reminded the audience that the funds raised from the concert would go towards helping, in alternate years, a final-year student at the University of Technology, Jamaica, and the UWI.