Tue | May 30, 2023

Another choir by Campbell

Published:Friday | June 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Violinist Sydnae Taylor performs at the launch concert of the Campion College Chapel Choir, held on Sunday, May 25, at the Sts Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Old Hope Road, St Andrew. Last week Friday, the musician was incorrectly identified as Saviaun Grant. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Randall Campbell - Photo by Michael Reckord

Some 32 years after he founded the choir at Jamaica College, Randall Campbell has started another at a different school. The Jamaica College (JC) group became one of only three chapel choirs in the Caribbean to be members of the Royal School of Church Music.

A year ago, Campbell started the Campion College Chapel Choir. The school's first choir, founded and led by staff member John Binns, disintegrated when Binns resigned some years ago. Binns, who was in the audience at the recent launch concert, was publicly thanked by the principal for his work.

Second-former Saviaun Grant, who has earned himself Gold awards in Jamaica Cultural Development Commission competitions, may be the best known of the group. Still, thousands would have seen Campion Head Boy Romario White and a couple of the other choristers on television recently, when they were taking part in the popular Schools' Challenge Quiz.

Campbell admitted that he watched the finals between Campion and Kingston College (KC) with mixed feelings. He is the coach of Campion's Quiz team and a KC old boy.

It was at KC, Campbell told me, that he developed a love for chorale music. He became a member of the school choir and later, at Mico Teachers' College, he majored in music and Spanish, and also began to take various summer courses. They included one at Princeton University dedicated to conducting chorale music for boys' voices and three or four given by music lecturers from England.

"I enjoyed them," Campbell said.

Asked to form choir

When Campbell went to JC to teach music and Spanish in 1981, the then principal, Ruel Taylor, asked him to form a choir. He did so that year, starting off with 10 to 12 boys (who sang treble and alto). Three years later, it had grown into a full four-part choir and, in 1985, presented its first official Christmas concert.

While Campbell was still at JC, Mrs Baston asked him to coach Campion's Schools' Challenge Quiz team. This quickly led to his leaving JC to both coach the team and teach French at Campion. (At the University of the West Indies, Campbell had majored in both Spanish and French.)

"At the interview, Mrs Baston asked me about forming a choir," Campbell said. Chuckling, he added, "I told her I'd think about it."

Looking even further into the future, Campbell added, "Beginning this Christmas, we will present a full-length Christmas concert. We hope it will be an annual event."