Whisked away by West Winds - Spain's SIGMA Project and Bercovich delight classical fans
To commemorate their 10th anniversary as a saxophone quartet, the SIGMA Project, accompanied by violinist Cecilia Bercovich, on Monday filled the UWI Chapel with melodies and harmonies, making the famous church feel more like the even more famous Carnegie Hall, during the West Winds musical experience.
The acoustics of the chapel were astounding, as the four clad in white and barefooted, accompanied by Bercovich - emulated the sounds of a full-bodied orchestra.
The West Winds concert showcase was a world-class production, affording Jamaicans a world premiere experience. In their first breath, SIGMA Project performed a transcription for saxophone of Phillip Glass' String Quartet no. 5.
This was their second performance in Jamaica. The halls of the Rose Hall Great House were the first in the world to feel the echoes of the transcription on Saturday night.
Glass' Saxophone Transcription was followed by music interpreted from the musical - West Side Story. Theatre lovers would immediately recognise the melodies of iconic songs like I Feel Pretty, or Maria.
After concluding their promised pieces, Bercovich engaged the audience as she led the performance of the song 'Mambo' from West Side Story, which required them to yell back, 'Mambo!' at precise rhythmic moments.
SIGMA Project continued the fanfare with a rendition of a song from their own country Ritual Fire Dance, from the musical Love The Magician.
Finally, in a gracious demonstration of cultural reverence, SIGMA Project encored with the performance of a Peter Ashbourne composition, based on the famous regional song Coconut Woman.
Angel Soria Diaz told The Gleaner that their costuming (white shirts, white pants, bare feet) was the choice from the beginning. "We started playing in white because normally, classical music is too serious. Old people play in black clothes," he said. "We play without shoes because we like to feel the floor, where we are," he concluded.
A very pleased Deputy Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica Carmen Rivas told The Gleaner, "The main job of the embassy is to do the exchange in Jamaica, so we try to bring artistes from Spain twice a year, or depending on the possibilities. But when they come here, they engage with Jamaicans."
The morning before the second concert, SIGMA Project along with Bercovich conducted a workshop at the Vera Moody Hall.
"The quartet presented different materials from different countries and eras. They also did something Jamaican for us," Kamoy Gordon, violin student from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, School of Musi, told The Gleaner.
During the Edna Manley College workshop, students got the opportunity to showcase their own material to the accomplished musicians; and to young Gordon, the workshop felt much more like a masterclass.
"Bercovich critiqued, and gave her comments about different things we could work on. It was really amazing. It was on point. This lady is totally amazing," Gordon said.