Jamaica College Chapel Choir magnificent in performance

Published: Sunday | December 28, 2008

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

As a means of generating funds for the school's transformation programme, the Jamaica College (JC)Chapel Choir, in conjunction with the Parent-Teacher Association, hosted Giovanni Pergolesi's Magnificat and Wolfgang Mozart's Glorious is Thy Name, Anthems and Carols, last Sunday at St Margaret's Anglican Church on Old Hope Road, St Andrew.

The programme was a dose of classical music, executed with great singing and interpretation and wonderfully arranged.

After a short prayer by the church's minister, and a brief welcome and apologies from the PTA's vice-president, Sylvester Anderson, the talented singers from JC kicked off their show with a string of classics. Dear Lord and Father of Mankind were the first.

But the small audience truly felt the music on the third item, Father Lead Me Day By Day, written by David York. They responded to the strong beginning and creative arrangement by choir conductor and founding member, Randell Campbell, with a loud applause.

The energy was retransmitted to the gentlemen onstage and they delivered a powerful rendition of Mozart, then Pergolesi. In the Magnificat, they received reinforcement from Carole Reid and Winston Davidson. And thus concluded section one.

When the men clad in dark blue pants, white long-sleeved shirts and blue and white striped ties re-entered after the break, they picked up where they had stopped in section one. But in section two they changed gear and moved into Christmas carols and songs. First it was Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending. Carol of the Bells, another beautifully arranged piece, had a rather cute ending.

Once again the lads were joined by Reid, this time for Oh Holy Night. Their blend of voices produced a pure tonal quality. And, the richness of the performance was not lost on the audience, which screamed at the end of the presentation.

The Christmas songs 12 Days of Christmas and Jingle Bells were also given the classical treatment by Campbell in arrangement and the choir in delivery.

Standing ovation

The final selection was Joy to the World. It, too, was rendered with sincerity. And, the choir received a standing ovation from the audience, which "thoroughly enjoyed the show" - so said the board's chairman, Danny Williams.

The Jamaica College Choir was founded by current teacher and choir conductor Randell Campbell in 1981. In 1985, the choir became a chapel choir and is currently one of three school choirs in the English-speaking Caribbean to boast membership of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM).

One of the benefits of being a member of the RSCM is that it provides an avenue for Christmas songs performed by the choir to be played around the world, said Campbell.

Also, for the past five years, the choir has visited one Caribbean island annually. This year, under the patronage of the Castries Anglican Church, they visited St Lucia. In July 2009 they will be going on a tour of Canada.

The Jamaica College Choir started out with 12 students. At present it has 30 members, ranging from first formers to past students, such as Julian Thompson, who joined the group in 1985 and has remained a member despite being a graduate of the University of the West Indies.

This year, the group began training for its Christmas performances as early as summer. in the form of workshops and summer camps. During this period, training included voice and speech preparation.

Low performance of males

In Jamaica's present clime of violence and low performance of males in our educational system, it is indeed a pleasure to see young men sing songs in a language (literally and figuratively) that their peers would scoff at. Therefore, it is important that their effort be applauded.