Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
On Sunday afternoon, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, probably the most beautiful church in Jamaica, was packed with patrons. They were there to hear music from, among other groups, the largest orchestra in Jamaica, the Immaculate Conception High School (ICHS) Symphony Orchestra.
The large turnout should be beneficial to both the church and the orchestra as proceeds from the concert, Expressions of Love 2, were earmarked for the continuing restoration of the cathedral and development of the orchestra.
Along with the cathedral and the orchestra, the Embassy of Spain was a co-producer of the concert, and that country's Ambassador of Spain to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuno, reminded the audience that a Spanish expert in the field had been assisting with the Cathedral's restoration.
special guest performer
Renowned Spanish pianist David Gomez, now on his third trip to Jamaica, was the concert's special guest performer. Other major musical contributions came from the ICHS Glee Club and the Kingston College Chapel Choir, while a few members of the Jamaica Defence Force band joined in for the final item.
Poetically assuring the audience that "silence is the canvas on which music is painted", the emcee for the evening, Charmaine Bowman, then invited the KC choir and its conductor, Audley Davidson, to begin the musical presentations.
Accompanied by selected members of the ICHS orchestra, the choir sang three items, an excerpt from G.B. Pergolesi's Magnificat, G. Caccini's Ave Maria, and - to conga drums and with a more upbeat tempo - B. Donaldson's Caribbean Hallelujah.
The choir sang for about 12 minutes, just about the same time spent on stage by the next ensemble, the ICHS Glee Club.
One member, a sweet-voiced Gabrielle Chin (with help from School of Music lecturer Lori Burnett, soprano), sang a beautiful solo Pie Jesu. The entire choir then performed Lennon and McCartney's well-known Yesterday and a bouncy medley of Jamaican songs (Build a Better Jamaica, Unity, and Move Up).
It was then time for the main - hourlong - performance by the special guest. Gomez, a young man with an international reputation and a strong sense of humour, strolled on from behind the seated patrons playing a small, handheld keyboard.
Pausing now and then to play softly for an individual audience member, and thereby eliciting laughter, he walked up the aisle to the grand piano in the performance area. There he smoothly resumed playing the musical item - his own composition, Porcelain Girl, on the larger instrument.
With the church lights turned on at his request, Gomez went on to play several contrasting pieces, some gentle and melodious, some fiery and accompanied by his stamping on the floor beside the piano. The items included Bach's French Suite, another of his own compositions from his album, The Island, and the hauntingly beautiful Malaguena by E. Lecuona.
The quieter pieces were enhanced by the fading light in the church, which was almost dark by the time Gomez stopped playing a few minutes after 6 o'clock.
The thunderous applause and cheers that rewarded the performance was not only for the high quality of the music but also for Gomez's showmanship - which included the simultaneous playing of the piano and an accordion.
After an intermission, during which a fund-raising silent auction was held in the foyer of the cathedral, the ICHS orchestra, consisting of scores of young musicians (male and female), took to the stage.
Conducted by Steven Woodham, the choir offered varied items of music, though there was an emphasis on pieces which were, in a Shakespearean phrase, "full of sound and fury".
These were A.D. Miller's Wildwood Overture, K. Badelt's Pirates of the Caribbean theme, and R. W. Smith The Tempest.
They were very well received, as was a rendition of a piece directly opposite in mood, a sensitively played violin solo by teenager Jovani Williams of Massenet's Meditation from Thais.
As the concert wound down, the Glee Club (conducted by Allison Wallace) and the KC choir (conducted by Davidson) joined the orchestra for delightful, moving performances of Morricone's well-known piece The Mission and the Noel Dexter/Jon Wiliams composition O Praise Ye The Lord.
The standing ovation by the audience was well deserved.