Sat | Dec 10, 2016

St Andrew Parish Foundation to stage Gala Musical Evening

Published:Sunday | November 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The St Andrew Parish Foundation is getting ready to stage a Gala Musical Evening, Festum Sancti Andreae, in recognition of the 350th anniversary of the St Andrew Parish Church.

The event, which will take place on December 2 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, will feature two outstanding operatic singers who consistently perform with distinction in Canada: Paul Williamson, celebrated Jamaican-born tenor and Canadian soprano Allison Arends. Both artistes arrived in the island on Friday.

Williamson has been asserting himself as a leading operatic performer in Canada. He has been given favourable reviews by Opera Canada, the Globe and Mail, and the Edmonton Journal, which described him as having " startlingly rich voice".

With a bachelor of music degree from the Houghton College School of Music in New York, and a master's degree in opera performance from State Glinka Conservatoire of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Williamson continued his vocal studies at the University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto. He has appeared in starring roles with the University of Toronto Combined Choirs and Orchestra; the Thunder Bay Symphony; the Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra; Opera York (Toronto); and at Carnegie Hall in New York. Williamson also thrilled audiences in Jamaica when he returned to the island for the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church's concert series, An Evening of Excellence, which was held in May of 2000 at the University of the West Indies, Mona Chapel.

Versatile singer

Arends, on the other hand, is quickly making her mark on the Canadian music scene as a versatile singer whose "voice is stunningly beautiful and [is used] with intelligence and great sensitivity" (Hnatyshyn Foundation). Highly sought after as an interpreter of opera, new music, and concert repertoire, she is noted for having "charmed listeners with her lyrical upper tones" (Opera Canada).

She is also set to travel to Berlin and to tour China in a New Year's programme with Hannover's Brahms Symphonie Orchester, and to Jamaica to present a recital of opera scenes with tenor Paul Williamson.

A graduate of Calgary Opera's Emerging Artist Program, and having completed a Master's of Music at the University of Toronto Opera School and a Bachelor of Music the University of Victoria Voice Performance Program, Arends is a recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation's Artist's Grant. She was also afforded the opportunity to perform at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Arends also had the honour of being the guest artiste at the Inter-American Development Bank Governor's Dinner, as well as singing the national anthem at the International Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors, which was attended by prime ministers, governors, delegates, and ministers of finance and foreign affairs from 45 different countries.

Social outreach

Tickets for Festum Sancti Andreae cost $10,000, and all proceeds from the event will benefit the social-outreach projects run by the St Andrew Parish Church. The foundation is the outreach arm of the St Andrew Parish Church. Among its projects are the St Andrew settlement in Majesty Gardens; a programme to rehabilitate street boys in the Half-Way Tree area; a home for girls; and the St Clement's Development Centre, aimed at helping youth in the Kencot area of Kingston.

Established in 1664, the St Andrew Parish Church has been operating outreach projects for over 100 years to address the needs of underserved persons in depressed communities. There are now seven such projects offering services encompassing active development work in health, education, skills training, job creation, and the care of senior citizens. These are providing invaluable assistance to the beneficiaries, helping them to transform their lives, family circumstances, and communities. It has become difficult for these projects to maintain current levels of operation, let alone improve them and meet growing demand as is so very necessary.

The creation of the foundation, a registered charity, is a response to helping mobilise resources for these activities.