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'Songs of Praise' provides fantastic listening

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2011 | 12:00 AM
The Kingston College Chapel Choir sings at the launch of their CD 'Songs of Praise' at the Kingston Parish Church, King Street, Kingston, last month.- Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Marcia Rowe, Sunday Gleaner Writer

There is a song for everyone; from the lovers of Bob Marley to those who consider themselves classical purists, all will enjoy the Kingston College Chapel Choir's CD titled Songs of Praise.

Songs of Praise comprises of 20 tracks and is best described as a musical collage of wonderful harmony, great voice texture, matched only by the excellent choice of songs.

From the first track, Linda Spevacek's Jubilance, to the last, John Rutter's The Lord Bless You and Keep You, the music is fantastically delivered by the North Street-based high school gentlemen. The songs on the CD include American gospel, traditional hymns and Psalms.

The choir's rendition of choir master Audley Davidson's arrangements of Peter Tosh's Jah is My Keeper and Bob Marley's Redemption Song, along with Noel Dexter's up tempo O Praise Ye The Lord and Cesar Frank's Panis Angelicus are not to be missed.

However, the value in the CD not only comes from the vocals of the 35 members, but also from the historical information and pictures in the booklet that accompanies the compilation.

photos of interest

There are two photos that may generate some interest. They are the photos of the 1961 and 2011 choristers. A photo of past choir directors as well as one depicting the much-talked about chapel at the launch of the CD held at the Kingston Parish Church, helps to make up the historical package.

Needless to say, the colour purple, as expected, dominates the creatively designed CD insert and label. There are pictures of the current members of the 47-year-old chapel choir, wearing purple gowns. The label on the disc boasts a picture of the school's crest along with a depiction of the Jamaican flag.

But there were some challenges in the production of Songs of Praise which was recorded roughly over a three-month period. Redoing some of the songs that were affected by noise such as rains in the initial recording, for instance, was difficult.

no studio recording

Recording of the songs was not conducted at a studio but in the words of Davidson, "at Christ Church in Vineyard Town, St Matthew's in Alman Town and at Immaculate Conception High School".

"We had to look for the right acoustic and because we use a pipe organ, we tend to look for authentic sounds. The choir prefers to use authentic instruments, so we recorded at St Matthew's Anglican Church where there is a Walker pipe organ; at Christ Church there is a Rudger organ which is quite authentic," Davidson explained.

He further explained that another reason for the use of the venues was that he does not think that there are studios in Jamaica equipped to accommodate a full choir of 35.

Matthew Hilton, a grade-nine chorister who believed that he has accomplished a good thing, encountered challenges such as the pitching of the note.

Davidson also shared a few preparation tips with The Sunday Gleaner.

In addition to finding the right location for recording, he cited the resting of voices and the need to get to know the songs before going to the venues for recording.

The director hopes the CD will be used as a tool "to educate people about classical music" and to educate other school choirs about the singing of classical songs.

The CD is sponsored by Jamaica National Building Society. The organisation's role included designing the cover and helping with the coordination of transportation to the three venues.