Ward Theatre Foundation remembers Ruby Martin
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
The Sunday-morning concert Remembering Ruby Martin began with an enticing delivery of Jamaica's national anthem.
Not only was the Sunday-morning concert at the Institute of Jamaica Lecture Hall show in memory of the late Ruby Martin who was the foundation's chairman, but it was also her birthday.
Martin's association with the Ward Theatre spans 25 years, her death in April bringing the relationship to an all-too-soon end.
Sir Patrick Allen, governor general of Jamaica, was the first to mention that relationship during a speech that was read by the custos of St Mary, Bobby Pottinger.
The governor general reminded the audience that the Ward Theatre was built in 1912, describing it as a consummate symbol of the country's cultural heritage.
He said it was once the home of the annual Pantomime and saw performances from cultural icons such as Ranny Williams, Louise Bennett, and many renowned musicians and singers.
In reference to Martin, the speech from Sir Patrick said, "No one was more passionate about the renovation and restoration of the Ward Theatre than was Mrs Ruby Martin."
He also said her commitment was unmatched and the concert was a fitting tribute to her life and work with the foundation.
Cedric McDonald, a director of the foundation, said Martin had an undiluted passion, and was fiercely loyal to the Ward Theatre.
He told the fair-size audience that up to her death, she was working on plans for the Ward Theatre. He also highlighted some of Martin's achievements as head of the Ward Theatre Foundation over her 25-year stint.
And after other glowing tributes in memory of "Ruby the compelling force" from the director, it was time to pay tribute to her in a way that matched her dignity and style.
The first item was an uplifting delivery of G.F. Handel's Comfort Ye My People by Orville Manning.
And because of an adjustment to the programme, Manning would later return to give a mighty performance of Trees.
Second on the programme were the Brandenburg Singers. But that was after they had earlier given a memorable rendition of the national anthem.
In their second trip to the stage, it was Mozart's Gloria that was the source of their classical treat.
The group also had to make some changes as its lead soprano, Pauline Forrester Watson, was absent because of illness.
Fortunately the adjustment did not affect two beautifully sung Negro spirituals: Soon Ah Will Be Done by William L. Dawson and the Henry Smith arrangement, Ride the Chariot.
Curtis Watson, who directed the Brandenburg Singers, covered nicely for his wife with The Lord is My Light and Salvation. He later returned to give a passionate delivery of I Got Plenty of Nutten.
Also performing on the programme were Rosina Moder and Friends, and Movements Dance Company. In what appeared to be two motifs, the dancers paid tribute with the Monica Campbell McFarlane-choreographed 'Bread of Life'.
Another of Moder's friends, Kamila Isaacs (soprano), and Shawn Richards (classical guitarist) were just as impressive.
Isaacs was cold water on a hot day with her rendition of Franz Schubert's Ave Maria and John Dowland's Come Again. She was accompanied by Richards along with Moder on recorder.
Richards brought smiles and evoked childhood memories with Ring Game Medley and Dis Long Time Gal.
But it was Moder who received the loudest response when she announced that her selection would be Fi Mi Love Have Iron Heart.
According to Moder, "we owe" it to Colonel Charles Ward and Ruby Martin to restore the landmark.
But when The Gleaner asked McDonald, at the end of the delightful show, to give a time frame for opening the doors of the Grand Old Lady, he said that Mrs Martin tried to meet the celebration in the centenary year, but it did not happen.
Unfortunately, it will not be opened for the December centenary celebrations.