Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Jamaica Youth Chorale carols for cancer

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Ayala Bennett
Contributed The Jamaica Youth Chorale.

Celebrating 10 years of music and imagination with purpose, the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) will be hosting a special Christmas concert dubbed 'Lux Aeterna - Eternal Light' - in memory of past member Ayala Bennett.

On the nights of December 15 and 16 at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, the chorale will be remembering the eternal light of Bennett, who passed on October 30, 2011, after being diagnosed with leukaemia. The chorale will be donating a portion of its proceeds to the Jamaica Cancer Society in an effort to support the fight against cancer.

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Unlike other cancers, leukaemia does not produce a tumour but results in the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells. JYC founder and conductor Greg Simms, emboldened by the cause, urges the public to support the chorale in this endeavour.

"This show, in particular, is very important to myself and the choir. Ayala was a brilliant and quirky young woman. She loved to sing and brought her own unique energy to the choir with a strong sense of self. To lose such an amazing person at such a tender age to cancer was very hard," he notes.

Bennett was an active member of the JYC, having joined in the summer of 2011. With her outstanding contribution and commitment to the choir, she quickly became a key member. She was scheduled to perform with the choir the day she passed and was actively engaged in the preparation process for the group's annual concert, Ancestor Voices.




Her mother, Sharon Wright, recounted the experience with fondness. "She was rehearsing when she was sick. She wasn't feeling well, but she would still go because she was very committed to the choir. Even though sick, she turned up for rehearsal just the same," stated Wright. "The day she died was the day of the beginning of their concert season for that year. She should have been singing in that concert, so I'm honoured that they are dedicating these shows to Ayala," she concluded.

Wright praised her daughter for her commitment to JYC and a number of other groups, including the Ashe Performing Arts Company and the Jamaica Poetry Society.

Under Simms' artistic and musical direction, the shows will feature works from JYC composers Odane Dawkins and Cedron Walters, along with Dr Kathy Brown, well-known jazz pianist. World premiere works include Tin Tryptich by noted Jamaican composer Dr Andrew Marshall.

From ancient and sacred masterpieces to modern Jamaican favourites, Lux Aeterna promises to be a treat for the entire family.

"We are a group of amazing young people who have been through so much. We enjoy sharing what we love with our patrons, and we look forward to making an impact on their lives through music," said founding member and alto-line leader Sherona Forrester. She continued, "This show in particular, being our 10th anniversary show, we are doing it with a purpose - in honour of Ayala, so persons should definitely come out and support."