Thu | Dec 12, 2019

JYC competing at World Choir Games in South Africa

Published:Thursday | July 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Youth Corale soloist Danielle Brown.
Jamaica Youth Chorale who accompanied the choir at their recent performance at UWI Chapel.

Today and tomorrow (July 12 and 13, will be two important days - perhaps the most important so far, in the life of the nearly 10-year-old Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC). On those days, the group will be competing in the 2018 World Choir Games in Tshwane, South Africa.

The Games, the biggest choral event in the world, and the 10th, organised by Interkultur Foundation, is being staged in Africa for the first time. While it features choirs from 60 countries competing in various categories, the focus is really on "participation above winning", and there will be non-competitive events, as well.

Declaring he was "really excited" about the trip, JYC founder Gregory Simms told The Gleaner that the JYC would be the first Jamaican group not competing in the Folk Music category. Instead, it has signed up for the Chamber and Spiritual competitions. DeCarteret College Choir will also be participating.

The JYC's Jamaican songs will be a special tribute to renowned national composers Andrew Marshall and Noel Dexter. But Simms explained that the rules of the competition call for other composers to be featured as well.

In the Spirituals category, the JYC will perform Marshall's Cyan Ketch Me Again, and the well-known American Negro spirituals My Soul's Been Anchored in De Lord, Give Me Jesus, and Wade in de Water. In the Chamber category, they will be performing Marshall's arrangement of Claude McKay's Home Thoughts, and Dexter's composition based on Psalm 24.

For the later, the choir will be accompanied by Dr Kathy Brown on keyboard. "All other pieces will be performed a cappella," Simms said. "We'll have a challenge, especially with the intonation, because the pitch (of some pieces) keeps changing."

He also expressed concern that the young group might also be jet lagged, as they would have been travelling almost 24 hours to another time zone. However, one JYC member now in the UK should have an easier time - Rhodes Scholar Sherona Forrester, who is studying at Oxford University, will join them.

Simms was speaking to The Gleaner after the JYC's fundraising concert at the University Chapel, Mona. The hour-long concert saw the performance of some of the pieces that will be performed in Tshwane, and if the audience's enthusiasm is any way of measuring the JYC's worth, the choir should earn some medals.

Organised for amateur choirs from all over the world, regardless of race, genre of music or artistic ambitions, the motto of the World Choir Games is, 'Singing together brings nations together'. Its purpose is "to bring people together through singing in a peaceful competition, showing that unity of nations through the arts can be effective".

The Games offers opportunities to experienced choirs and those with little international experience to compete in the Champions Competition and The Open Competition. Choirs who choose not to compete but want to be a part of the international experience can participate in the non-competitive evaluation activities and workshops.