Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Tomorrow's concert to create historic moment
The prestigious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) arrived in Jamaica in celebratory mode.
Arriving on the same flight as the Jamaican Olympians and being serenaded by the Alpha Boys Band on Monday evening appears to have heightened the spirits of the world-renowned orchestra, which will perform on Jamaican soil for the first time.
According to leader of the RPO, Clio Gould, the welcome was warm.
"We've had the most incredible and warm welcome from everyone here. We are delighted to visit this fantastic island, and we also shared our flight with some of the Jamaican Olympic team, and we also saw Yohan Blake, so it is good so far," Gould said.
The RPO is expected to perform at two concerts organised by the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) in Mandeville and Kingston.
During their week's stay in Jamaica, the group will hold classical workshops at high schools, private music centres, NYOJ training centres, as well as master classes at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
"We are going to be working with many different groups and going to all sorts of different schools and orchestras and working with young people, and in the concert I hope they will hear some of the results of all the work we are doing here," said Gould.
"We will also display some lovely string playing with the string players of the RPO and just to keep everybody entertained and happy," Gould said.
The leader of the RPO also said the opportunity to perform in Jamaica was a rare privilege.
"I have never been to Jamaica before and when I got the invitation I said I must go, I must see this one because this is not somewhere where you expect to go very often in your life. This is a really big event for us," she said.
"We are so excited to be here because it's very unusual for us," Gould added.
Dr Nigel Clarke, chairman of the NYOJ, revealed that it took 18 months of planning to get the prestigious band to perform in Jamaica.
"We are overjoyed. This is something that we have been working on for the past 18 months. Getting an international orchestra with the calibre of RPO is not an easy thing; their schedule is booked months and years in advance. We engaged them a year and a half ago and sought to raise the sponsorship to make it possible," Clarke continued.
"We were very fortunate to receive the support of Digicel, NCB Capital Markets and the Supreme Ventures Foundation, who bought into the vision of the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica," added Clarke.
CONCERNED ABOUT VENUES
The chairman also spoke highly of the upcoming concerts, citing small venues as the only major concern.
"We have an excellent concert lined up on Thursday, the 13th, and Saturday, the 15th of September, where RPO will perform alongside leading Jamaican artistes in this particular genre," Clarke said.
According to Clarke, the response, especially to the event in St Andrew, has been phenomenal.
"If we had a venue that could hold 5,000 people, we could fill it. The big bottleneck in this has been a venue that can accommodate the number of persons that are interested," Clarke said.
The first concert is slated for tomorrow, starting 7:30 p.m. at the Nothern Caribbean University in Mandeville.
The RPO will wrap in Kingston at the final concert to be hosted at Holy Trinity on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Other high-calibre musicians expected to be featured at the concert include Peter Ashbourne, the Jamaican classical visionary, and Shirley Thompson, groundbreaking United Kingdom-based Jamaican composer.