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J'can tenor Paul Williamson to perform for charity

Published:Tuesday | November 11, 2014 | 11:00 AM
Paul Williamson
Allison Cecilia Arends
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Lovers of classical music are in for a pre-Christmas treat when the St Andrew Parish Foundation stages its Festum Sancti Andreae, a Gala Musical Evening and Benefit Banquet, in recognition of the 350th anniversary of the St Andrew Parish Church. The event, which will take place on December 2, 2014 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, will

feature two outstanding Canada-based operatic singers - Paul Williamson, celebrated Jamaica-born tenor and Canadian soprano Allison Arrends. Proceeds from the event will benefit the social outreach projects run by the St Andrew Parish Church.

Williamson has been asserting himself as a leading operatic performer in Canada. He has had favourable reviews by Opera Canada, the Globe and Mail, and the Edmonton Journal, which described him as having "a startlingly rich voice".

With a bachelor of music degree from the Houghton College School of Music in New York, and a masters degree in Opera Performance from State Glinka Conservatoire of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Williamson continued his vocal studies at the University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto.

He has appeared in starring roles with the University of Toronto Combined Choirs and Orchestra, the Thunder Bay Symphony, Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra, Opera York (Toronto), and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Local performance

Williamson has also thrilled audiences in Jamaica when he returned to the island for the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church's concert series, An Evening of Excellence, which was held in May of 2000 at the University of the West Indies, Mona Chapel.

Also set to perform at the Benefit Banquet is western-Canadian soprano Allison Cecilia Arends, who is quickly making her mark on the Canadian music scene as a

versatile singer whose "voice

is stunningly beautiful and (is used) with intelligence and great sensitivity" (Hnatyshyn Foundation). Highly sought after as an interpreter of opera, new music and concert repertoire, she is noted for having "charmed listeners with her

lyrical upper tones".

(Opera Canada).

Arends will travel to Berlin and tour China in a New Year's programme with Hannover's Brahms Symphonie Orchester, and to Jamaica to present a recital of opera scenes with tenor Paul Williamson.

She is a graduate of Calgary Opera's Emerging Artist Program, and completed a masters of music at the University of Toronto Opera School and a bachelor of music at the University of Victoria Voice Performance Program.

As a recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation's Artist's Grant, Arends was afforded the opportunity to perform at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. She also had the honour of being the guest artiste at the Inter-American Development Bank Governor's Dinner, as well as singing the National Anthem at the International Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors, which was attended by prime ministers, governors, delegates, and ministers of finance and foreign affairs from 45 different countries.