Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
When the usual fund-raisers don't work, then it is time to do things that people don't mind - and that is to be entertained. That was the decision taken by council members of the Elim Gospel Hall when they embarked on their annual fund-raising venture.
With assistance from the University Singers (Mona), they put on a benefit concert over the weekend. The recipients of the funds will be a number of young people from the Grants Pen/Shortwood Road community where the 84-year-old religious institution is located.
Council member Christine Buckley, who told The Gleaner that the church has been involved with young people since its inception, explained how some of the funds would be used.
"We have ongoing fund-raising events for the different programmes. Normally, we do things to benefit the church's building programme … [but] we have a youth programme, where we have installed a youth programme person and we have to pay that person. This is a new project. So I suppose some of the funds will go towards funding the youth programme."
On the other hand, those who attended the concert held at The Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, left the event feeling quite satisfied. From colourful costumes to great singing and movements, the singers gave their audience an evening to remember.
Dubbed 'Jamaica 50: The Golden Jubilee', the audience was treated in three acts. And while all three acts were inspiring, it was the mini-opera, which formed Act Two, that was the most impressionable. It was labelled '1865, An Opera Based on the Morant Bay Rebellion'. The opera was penned by F. F. Halliburton, directed by Brian Heap, with movements by Kevin Moore.
It represented a slice of Jamaica's history, and was passionately delivered in songs of different genres. However, the story began with a narrator (André Bernard), giving some background information on the circumstances that led to the unrest. He is subsequently joined by peasants who declare that they will no longer be slaves. Emotions got stronger when a villager (Carolyn Reid-Cameron), gives a zealous account of the arrest of one Maas Joe (not seen). At this point, Paul Bogle (Kester Bailey), joins them and stirs the fire.
Scene Two begins with a very youthful-looking O'Rane Thomas as custos and his ilk blowing their horns of generosity towards the peasants. But generosity seemed to be a one-sided affair. Soon after, a confrontation ensues between the custos and the peasants, along with Bogle, and the courthouse is set ablaze.
The lyrics of the songs throughout the opera were, at times, humorous and nicely delivered by the group and the soloists.
Act Three's focus was to cap off the show. This was done in the genres of Jamaican folk, gospel, mento and reggae. In three changes of costumes, the very talented group gave a stirring performance of songs such as Evening Time, Duppy Laugh, Revival Bands and Jamaica, Sweet Jamaica.
While Act Three was about costume changes and fantastic formations, Act One was a tapestry of classical sounds.
Dressed in formal wear, the group was intoxicating with songs such as In My Distress, Our Father, A Caribbean Alleluia and I Saw My Land in the Morning. Soloist Danielle Nelson also lifted Halliburton's arrangement of I Pledge, Jamaica's national pledge put to music.
Overall, all the performances were worth seeing. The organisers delivered a wonderful entertainment package, the audience got their money's worth and the Elim Gospel Hall will, hopefully, be able to sufficiently fund its outreach programme.