A Classical Xaymaca
When the beautiful sounds of the alto saxophone and the complementary vibration of the string instruments faded, the large audience offered a standing ovation.
The springboard for the ovation was the world premiere performance of the 2016 Xaymaca; Fantasy for Alto Saxophone and Strings, composed by one of Jamaica's finest musicians, Peter Ashbourne. And the notes were played into life by the Samuel Felsted Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Ashbourne, featuring Spanish saxophonist Angel Soria Diaz.
Xaymaca; Fantasy for Alto Saxophone and Strings was one of the nine acts on the programme of the concert dubbed Xaymaca. This classical concert, organised by the Embassy of Spain in collaboration with the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, was held recently at the St Peter and Paul Church, Old Hope Road. And those who turned out were treated to music spanning three centuries.
Before the highly trained professionals, forming the Samuel Felsted Chamber Orchestra, delighted the congregation in the second part of the programme, and their students, the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) thrilled them in the first half, there were two addresses.
Carmen Rives Ruiz Tapiador, chargee d'affaires A.I of the Embassy of Spain, welcomed everyone. She said the concert was timely as it was held on the day that Jamaica celebrated being designated one of UNESCO's Creative Cities of Music. She also wanted the concert to be a tribute to Jamaican artistes and a tribute to culture in general. She said that culture is a strong instrument for the betterment of the world.
Member of Parliament for the constituency Flavel Williams brought greetings on behalf of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange. She congratulated the performers and thanked the sponsors, while looking forward to the afternoon's musical entree.
The classical entree commenced with the NYOJ Junior Band. On wind and string instruments, they gave a commanding performance of Slightly Lightly Latin by Barbara Littell. Soria Diaz conducted. The NYOJ Brass Quintet, who played the only Christmas selection on the programme, Carol of the Bells, was not to be outdone, and for their effort was treated to a great reception from the audience.
The first half also saw conductor Soria Diaz guiding the NYOJ symphonic band through W. A. Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, and Jacques Offenbach's composition Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann," arranged by Walter Beeler. The seniors ended their engaging set with an audience favourite, Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert - A Medley including: The Phantom of the Opera - Memory - Go Go Joseph arranged by Michael Sweeny.
Performance on his soprano instrument. It was a contemporary selection composed in 2008 by his Spanish friend, Javier Quislant. He later explained the intriguing Sobre la expresiondel movimiento. "It's a modern technique of playing the saxophone. It is not normal sounds but it is air sound and slaps."
Then the Spanish put aside the soprano for the alto saxophone to join his creative colleagues on strings, to perform Xaymaca. It is written in two movements. The sub titles tell the tone and mood of the Embassy of Spain's commissioned piece. The first movement is called Taino Idylle and the second Taino Angst. In Taino Idyll Ashbourne said, in the programme notes, "it could perhaps evoke images of a pre-Colombian past". Both movements combined beautifully, and captured aspects of Jamaica's early history.
The delightful afternoon ended with a sterling performance of the Paulette Bellamy-arranged Coconut Woman, by the Samuel Felsted Chamber Orchestra.