Brilliant performances at NCU’s 50th Feast of Lights
Bringing the curtains down on a yearlong NCU-in-Manchester centennial celebration, the Music and Fine Arts Department of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) reflected on the past 50 years of the Feast of Lights production and the First Advent of Jesus Christ. Under the theme ‘The Journey’, the audience was fed a feast of music ranging from choral renditions and solos to instrumental presentations at the university’s main auditorium in Mandeville on Saturday, December 7. Participating groups were the NCU Centennial Choir, the NCU Church Choir, the Ungus Choir and the Children’s Choir.
The classical-music concert began with the processional song We are Singing a Song by Candlelight. The ambience evoked warm Christmas feelings, complimented by candles set in the form of he Jewish memorial. The audience was impressed by choral performances such as Shine Down Your Light on Me, Christmas Shines, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Carol of the Bells. The children took the spotlight with Christmas Shines.
The night saw the ‘Battle of the Browns’. First, it was Danielle Brown displaying her deeply powerful, soulful, and beautiful mezzo-soprano range in Sweet Little Jesus Boy and Laudate Dominium (Praise the Lord). Then Sashieka Brown, seemingly with no effort, demonstrated her versatile soprano range on The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy, Gesú Bambino (Baby Jesus), Walk Together Children, and O Holy Night.
The highlight of the evening, however, came when Danielle and Sashieka joined forces in the beautifully delivered Lil David Play on Your Harp. The harmony was immaculate and complementary.
Stephen Shaw-Naar, as collaborative pianist, added demonstrative delicate mastery to the performances of the soloists. The instrumental music programme was on display as the NCU Concert Band reformed item Christmas Moods. The band did a medley of Christmas carols depicting sober moods to powerful exclamations. Also on display were the children on steel drums.
The Feast of Lights concert this year was not only about classical entertainment and the celebration of the First Advent of Jesus Christ. It was also a brief historic review of the evolution of the Music and Fine Arts Department at NCU and the Feast of Lights tradition, which was started in 1969 by then director Zenobia Davis. In past years, the department has had several international collaborations and at one point participated in the annual Jamaica Music Festival Competition.