Sat | Mar 24, 2018

For the Reckord | Cheers and tears end two weekend shows

Published:Friday | July 1, 2016 | 12:08 AMMichael Reckord
The colourfully dressed University Singers perform.
The University Singers' Revival Shepherd.
The University Singers portray a Revival meeting.
Tribe Sankofa at the BOJ.
Tribe Sankofa founder and director Fabian Thomas.
'Mi dumplin gawn,' sings Carolyn Reid-Cameron (left) to the suspect, Peter Allen (centre).
The Singers at the PSCCA.

Occasionally the group was unreservedly light-hearted, like when they sang the folk songs, Dis Long Time Gal and Mouta Massa Liza, but its essential seriousness that was manifest in the Beloved excerpt was evident earlier in the ensemble's emotional rendition of Bob Marley's Redemption Song and the dramatisation of Lorna Goodison's poem, The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Employed Her Son. The poem is about an initially neglectful father who later in the boy's life, introduces him to a life of crime.

The University Singers' gloriously sung concert started, as usual, with a highly spiritual first half, which focused as much on love as on religion. Many of the songs featured outstanding soloists, the best-received of whom was Roy Thompson, singing Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep), from Puccini's opera Turandot.

Other superb soloists were Althea McKenzie, singing Franklin Halliburton, the musical director and conductor's up-tempo, Rocking Jerusalem; Ranice Barrett and Anthony Alexander, singing Mozart's Love Duet (from the opera The Magic Flute); Carolyn Reid-Cameron, singing Love is Like a Rebellious Bird (from Bizet's Carmen) and Kathy Brown, singing a deathbed aria, Thy Hand Belinda/When I am Laid, from Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas.

The second half of the concert - the folk song segment - was as delightful to the ear as it was to the eye. It gave us not only colourful costumes (designed by Lurane Allen and Kester Bailey) but dynamic movement choreographed by Kevin Moore. These visual components greatly enhanced the many stories told by the lyrics.

Even those who do not know the songs, should be able to guess their themes from some of the titles. They included Lliza Kibba Yuh Mout, Tief Tek Over Town, Trailer Load a Politician and Some Man Coulda Smart. All those were performed with humour, as was a crowd favourite, Massa Sammy O, in which Reid-Cameron and Peter Allen played a cook and a dumpling thief, respectively.

Another highlight was an instrumental interlude with Brown - both a singer and the band leader - playing a lively Caribbean Samba, an adaptation of O. Molineaux's Hannibal's Return.

If you missed the excellent concert season, which ended on Sunday, you can catch it when the Singers mount their mini-season.