Good music warms cold School of Music
Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
Warmth and cold battled it out in the auditorium of the Edna Manley College's School of Music on Sunday evening. The conflict, figuratively speaking, was between the warmth of the music delivered by the performers and the ever-increasing cold of the air-conditioned room.
The occasion was Music United Foundation's fund-raising concert Jazz 'n More, which featured a wide range of offerings by local and foreign musicians.
Delightful though the items were, even the organiser, Rosina Moder, executive director of Music Unites, was happy to escape the cold after the three and a half-hour-long show.
School of Music students and lecturers made up the majority of the performers. Though the latter - Italian guitarist Samuele Vivian, singer Michael Sean Harris, pianist Orville Hammond and violinist Peter Ashbourne - were clearly the professionals, the students delivered at such a high standard that one could easily envisage them soon becoming lecturers themselves.
Experience in performing, a common factor among the students, was probably the one that made their presentations so good. These were the student performers and their pieces in order of presentation:
● Vennica Nicholson, a third-year voice major in the Bachelor of Music Education programme. She sang God Bless the Child and Blue Moon.
● Janine J Kuhl (real name Janine Coombs), a second-year voice major in the Bachelor's degree in Jazz and Popular Music progamme. A guitarist with the all-female band Queen Omega and a song writer with an album released in 2009, she often performs outside of the School of Music. She sang Cry me a River and her original Solitary Place.
● Reajhaun Baptiste, a first-year steel pan player from St Vincent and the Grenadines, played a classical version of A Turkish March (Alla Turca) by Mozart, accompanied on piano by third-year student Cannigia Palmer. He then played the jazz standards Summertime and L-O-V-E, accompanied by St Vincentian student Darron Andrews on the violin and Jamaican Ramiesh Folkes on piano.
● Dominique (full name Dominique Vendryes), a first-year voice major in the Bachelor's degree in Jazz and Popular Music programme is studying guitar as a second instrument. She sang I've Got To See You Again and Black And Gold.
● Princess Tia (real name Suzanna Brooks), 19, came second in the 2009 Digicel Rising Stars competition and was a silver medalist in a recent World Championships of the Performing Arts competition in Hollywood and a performer at the last Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. She sang Sorry and a poignant composition of her own, Who's Responsible, a song inspired by the tragic death of a boy during the incursion into Tivoli by the security forces last year.
Members of the band accompanying the singers were School of Music students Luke Dixon (piano), Alex Gallimore (bass) and Hector Lewis (drums).
The professional musicians were School of Music lecturers and two visitors to the island. One of the latter, harp player Carlos Rodas of Paraguay, was on his way to the airport to catch a plane, but paused long enough to play two beautiful Paraguayan tunes, Waterfall Song and The Bell Bird.
The other visitor, Dominican singer Marie Claire, started her set with an aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, then moved, in a lower key - and more euphoniously - to the standard My Funny Valentine. Unwisely, for her third and final song, Rastaman Chant (for which she was accompanied by Tony Cole on drums), she went back to her higher register. Her lower register has a more pleasing tone; her higher register tends to be shrill. She is now in the island recording a Reggae album.
Italian Samuele Vivian, a School of Music lecturer in guitar, showed he was a master of the instrument in his enchanting playing of the Beatles hit Let it Be, and Flamenco Jamaicano. One could believe the anecdote told by the emcee Heather 'Brown Sugar' Grant of being so taken with the beauty of Vivian's playing on television the other morning that she dashed out of the shower and stood dripping wet before her TV listening to the music.
Inspired by the performers generally, and no doubt Vivian in particular, Grant told the audience she just had to sing, too. She thereupon delivered a sensual version of the old Peggy Lee hit Fever.
In various combinations, Harris, Hammond and Ashbourne performed several songs and tunes together. The items, which included Lullaby of Birdland, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and People Make the World Go Round, were all flawlessly done. The performances strengthened an impression that had been growing throughout the evening: as the School of Music celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with such good lecturers and students, the institution should be around for at least another 50.
Bringing the evening to a climax, Moder, on her recorder, led the performance of Marley's anthem Redemption Song.
The concert was under the patronage of The Hon Marigold Harding, custos rotulorum of St Andrew, who apparently absorbed enough warmth from the music to endure the cold to the very end.