Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
No less than 10 Corporate Area musical groups were represented at a concert held in the Kingston College Chapel on Sunday evening.
Organised mainly by the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC) School of Music - with lecturer Ann McNamee doing much of the co-ordinating - the concert featured performers headed by the Guapos Brass Quintet from Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida.
The quintet, led by educator and musician Marc Reese, is currently on a training and performing tour of Jamaica. The group is now in Montego Bay (as of Monday) and will return to Boca Raton on Friday.
"We were told there was not a lot of talent or desire to play this kind of music in Jamaica," Reese told the audience on Sunday. "But we found the opposite is true."
The training tour came about following the visit last year, on his 70th birthday, of the now-retired Dean of Lynn University's Conservatory of Music, Jon Robertson, a Jamaican who left the island at age three.
Following discussions between Robertson and McNamee, Reese was asked to conduct training of musical ensembles in Jamaica. Reese, who has a hectic schedule as a chamber musician with the Empire Brass Band, is also a soloist who tours extensively throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East.
As an educator, Reese is the assistant dean at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music and heads its Brass department.
The groups, which have been participating in the training sessions over last week and whose representatives performed on Sunday, along with the Guapos Brass Quintet, were EMC Music School students, NYOJ, the Salvation Army, the Jamaica Defence Force Regiment Band, the Jamaica Constabulary Force Band, the Jamaica Military Band, the Seaview All Stars and Alpha Boys' Band. The KC Chapel Choir provided the only vocal contributions to the concert.
Almost as many musical instruments, mainly brass, were played. They included trumpets, coronets, trombones, tubas, French horns, saxophone and the organ.
The tunes played were also varied. The Guapos Brass Quintet played a number of compositions by Giovanni Gabrieli, a renowned 16th-century Italian organist and composer, but also delighted the half-full chapel with tunes from Leonard Bernstein's Broadway musical West Side Story. They were Tonight, I Feel Pretty, Maria and Somewhere.
The KC Chapel Choir sang the hymns Now Thank We All Our God and All Creatures That On Earth Do Dwell. They were conducted by choir master Audley Davidson.
Assisted by some of the visiting American musicians, Alpha Boys' Band performed the lively children's composition Alouette. Three young men from the Seaview All Stars Marching Band played the jazz standard In the Mood.
The concert ended with all the instrumental groups playing an upbeat composition. It had the audience clapping along in time to the music and, at the final note, rewarding the groups with a standing ovation.
In thanking the visitors for the training given, McNamee said that it formed part of the effort by the NYOJ and the EMC to build an audience for classical music in Jamaica.
She later told The Gleaner that the NYOJ now has two training centres, one at KC's Melbourne campus and the other at St Andrew High School — the first centre opened, in 2010. A third centre will be opened shortly, she added.