Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Tea on a high note - Orrett Rhoden makes courtesy call on the Hon Lisa Hanna

Published:Tuesday | November 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Orrett Rhoden (left) made a courtesy call on the Hon Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture . - Contributed
Orrett Rhoden (left) with the Hon Lisa Hanna. - Contributed
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Last Friday, distinguished concert pianist and artistic director of the Orrett Rhoden International Music Festival of Jamaica, Orrett Rhoden, made a courtesy call on the Hon Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture.

Rhoden's visit was to brief Hanna on his upcoming classical music festival, which will take place on November 23 at the University of the West Indies Chapel; on November 24, 26 and 28 at the St Andrew's Scots Kirk, Duke Street; and on November 29 at the St Peter's Anglican Church in Port Royal.

The festival concerts, which will all begin at 3 p.m., with a high tea, are geared at "bringing classical music alive, and to educate and inspire our children in Jamaica".

The annual festival is the only classical music festival in the English-speaking Caribbean and will run from the last week in each month from November to February each year. Rhoden says he intends to attract new visitors to Jamaica as 10 per cent of the world's population enjoys classical music and would be keen on seeing some of the finest classical artistes perform during the cold winter months, while enjoying a bit of Jamaica's sand, sea, and sun.

This November, The festival will be featuring the celebrated Swedish pianist Oskar Ekberg, who has been supported by the Swedish Government for the second time as a gesture of Swedish-Jamaican relationships. Also appearing is Cuban cellist José Carlos Oximendi and Rhoden himself. Together, the three musicians will perform works by composers like Rachmaninoff, Messiaen, Chopin, Fauré, Schubert, and works by famous Swedish composers.

Much success

Last year's festival was successful locally and internationally as both concerts held at the UWI Chapel, attracted over 6,000 viewers from as far as Turkey, China, England, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada from their Internet live-stream. The festival, although classically inclined, seeks to also express the very best of Jamaican music and local artistes and has coined its newest art form, Classi-Reggae, which has cleverly and successfully merged reggae and classical music. Last year, celebrated reggae ambassador Stephen 'Cat' Coore performed on his cello with Orrett Rhoden accompanying him.

Rhoden, who is no stranger to Jamaican audiences, made his debut in 1984 with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London, playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. This followed his invitation to perform background music at Devon House for the visiting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to Jamaica in 1983.

Rhoden went on to debut at Carnegie Hall in 1985 and later appeared nationwide across America in the much-talked-about 'Late Night Starring Joan Rivers' in Hollywood. He was also invited to play at the birthplace of his idol, Frédéric Chopin, in Zelazowa Wola, Poland, in 1985.

His recent double discs, recorded in London and New York, have been hailed as "... one of the finest on disc", and he is scheduled to make his conducting debut next February with the National Symphony Orchestra of Teleradio Muldova from Rumania.

At age 12, Rhoden won the Howard Cooke Trophy for Excellence in the Jamaican national festival, the youngest to have ever received this award, and was later recognised in 2015 by prime minister, the Most Hon P.J. Patterson for his outstanding contribution to music in Jamaica.

Last year, Rhoden was the recipient of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) from his excellency the governor general for his outstanding contribution to the development of classical music in Jamaica.

The Orrett Rhoden International Music Festival is held under the distinguished patronage of His Excellency the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, KStJ, governor general.

Patrons can purchase tickets for the November events at the Music Mart, 8 South Avenue, in Kingston.