Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Diocesan Festival Choir marks 90th anniversary

Published:Thursday | November 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Paulette Bellamy

The celebrated oratorio Messiah (The Christmas Section) by the Germany-born 17th-century composer George Frideric Handel, will be the featured work for the 90th Anniversary Concert Season of the Diocesan Festival Choir. The season opens on Sunday with a gala recital at King's House, starting at 6 p.m. A second performance will be staged on Sunday, December 6, at 4.00 p.m. at the Kingston Parish Church.

Both concerts are being held under the distinguished patronage of the Bishop of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, The Rt Rev Howard Gregory and Mrs Gregory.

The 40-member choir will be supported by a stellar line-up of soloists and musicians performing under the baton of Geoffrey Shields. The first music officer for the National Festival Commission and a former director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Music, Shields was a recipient of the Prime Minister's Medal of Appreciation in 1983 and also holds the Institute of Jamaica's Centenary Medal.

Guest soloists include Jamaican contralto June Lawson, along with Angela Blalock (soprano), Jarvis Jett Jr (tenor), and Stephon Miller (bass), all from South Carolina State University.

Internationally renowned Jamaican music scholar and concert organist Dr Richard Beckford will accompany the performers. Beckford, who is professor of music and director of choirs at South Carolina State University, will be joined by Ann Trouth on piano, as well as a string ensemble coordinated by accomplished Jamaican pianist and violinist Paulette Bellamy, a silver Musgrave Medallist.

Part proceeds from the season will be donated to the rebuilding fund for the Wortley Home for Girls, which was destroyed by fire on June 29.

The Diocesan Festival Choir was formed in 1924 at the initiative of the then Bishop of Jamaica, George Frederick Cecil DeCarteret to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Jamaica. One year later, it became a permanent organisation under the baton of George Goode.

Others who have led the choir, which is multi-denominational, include Hazel Lawson-Streete, Maurice Gordon, Paul Ramsey, and Michael Sutherland.