Beautiful music marks OASIS Caribbean Concert
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
It was more than a concert it was a result show, a lesson in musical instrument, and more.
The occasion was the OASIS Caribbean Concert, organised by the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS), held on Saturday at (what has become the venue of choice) the Courtleigh Auditorium located in the Island Life Mall, New Kingston.
Acting as MC but with a music professorial twist, Marino Vales from OAS began his lesson on musical instrument by explaining that the orchestra is like a big family, and that it has many members in the family. He further explained that each member of the family rehearsed separately and would be seen one by one before coming together as the family.
The woodwind instruments in the form of the flutes were first. They began the family story with a pleasant sounding Collins Cowles - arranged The Drunken Sailor: Traditional.
Then it was on to the first of the string instruments. The violas, the most opaque-sounding of the string family, were the first. But the denseness in its sound was not as pronounced in the treatment of Gerg Phillipp Telemann's compositions. Like their akin, violins that performed a similar piece, except a little faster, was pristine sound to the ears.
Next it was the brass instruments, one of the loudest members of the orchestra family, according to the musicologist, injecting some humour in his lesson. Then he introduced each with a demonstration from the individual trainer: the French horn, the trumpet and the trombone. And as a group they thrilled the audience with a beautiful sounding Johann Sebastian Bach's 3 chorales.
But it was the lowest members of the string family, the cellos and the double basses, that received the first vocal response from the audience. With a fantastic presentation of Scott Joplin's, Werner Thomas - Mifune arranged The Entertainer, the musicians were captivating with their strumming of each note.
However, a musical concert could not be staged without the most important instrument of all - the voice. The first of the two vocal items on the programme was a delightful selection rendered by the combined OASIS Regional Choir, Kingston College Choir and the Ensemble.
The other vocal item was performed by the NYOJ choir with their original piece Tell Me Why, which Roger Williams, one of the directors of NYOJ, ensured to inform the audience that the song was composed by the students after the May 2010 incursion in Tivoli Gardens. Both groups gave thrilling performances.
Another highlight of the programme was the two performances of Monique Younger's composition; first by Younger and then by the OASIS Regional Workshop Orchestra.
Titled Melody, the piece composed by the St Andrew Technical High School student was the winner in the Jamaica OAS competition on melody. Alas, while the music was nice to listen to, it was difficult to hear the lyrics. However, it was a different story when the audience was treated to the Peter Ashbourne arrangement of Younger's Melody, performed by OASIS Regional Workshop Orchestra.
The OASIS Caribbean Concert culminated with the members of the family of instruments, instructors and trainers, conducted by Jorge Arbelaez, and joined force in giving a riveting performance of L 'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 and George Bizet's Overture, Minueto, Carillon, after a seemingly transfixed audience, sat in total silence as the stage was prepared for this final act of an evening of beautiful music.
The concert was the final stage of a week-long intensive OASIS regional workshop conducted in Trench Town.
Instructors in various instruments from Colombia, Panama, Quebec, Venezuela and Uruguay, met with trainers and directors from the OAS orchestra programme from the three participating Caribbean countries. The trainers were from the OAS Marchand Youth Orchestra Programme in St Lucia, OASIS Music for Social Change Haiti and the NYOJ orchestra in Jamaica.