Sport & Entertainment
JAM | Jun 14, 2023

Jamaica Youth Chorale explores ‘light & dark’ tension through music

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Greg Simms (centre), musical director of the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC), conducts the choir at its spring concert, ‘Light & Dark’, at the UWI Mona Chapel in April. The premier performance of the group was disrupted over the last three years by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Contributed)

Following on its successful Black History/Reggae Month tour in the United States in February, the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) is moving to capitalise on this momentum and visibility with an online stream of its 2023 spring concert, ‘Light & Dark’, in June.

The premier performance of the internationally acclaimed choral group returned to the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Chapel on April 30, after a three-year hiatus spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, just as it was pre-pandemic, a full house turned out to experience this year’s two-hour programme.

Greg Simms, founder and musical director of the JYC, said the thought-provoking repertoire featured in ‘Light & Dark’ represents the continued growth of the choir, and a keystone for how the group will be positioning itself in the wider choral space.

“What we managed to accomplish for this concert was outstanding because the music was advanced and we really got into most of it after we returned from the US in February,” Simms explained. “I’m very proud of everyone for their commitments and with the virtual showcase we hope to reach and impact a much larger audience.”

The choir is no stranger to virtual screening, having streamed its Christmas concerts in 2020 and 2021 for free on YouTube. However, the spring concert, which is a major fundraising event for the group, can be accessed on the Vimeo streaming platform, for US$9.00.  

“We are sharing the link to the concert on our social media pages and viewers will be able to rent the video for a limited time once they get onto Vimeo,” noted Simms.

He added that internal tests were done on the platform to ensure there are no issues.

Greg Simms, founder and musical director of the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC), in performance in December 2022. (Photo: Facebook @JaYouthChorale)

As is customary for JYC programming, ‘Light & Dark’ features arrangements from Jamaican composures including, C.S Walters, Dr. Odane Dawkins, Dr. Kathy Brown and Noel Dexter.  C.S Walters’ ‘A Little More Oil‘, and Dr. Brown’s mash up of ‘Endless Night/Shadowland’ from The Lion King, were crowd favourites at the UWI Chapel.

I Love You/Wonderful World‘, arranged by non-Jamaican composer, Craig Hella-Johnson, featuring tenor soloist, Davyd-Paul Alberts, was also revered by the audience. Other non-Jamaican composers included in the programme are Dan Forrest, Felix Mendelssohn, Ken Burton, Stacey V. Gibbs, Roland Carter, Cedric Dent and Mark Hayes.

“Light & Dark is all about balance and the songs take you on a journey about life and loss, joy and sorrow, beginnings and endings; all of that. The programme forces you to reflect on your own lived experiences while also providing comfort,” expressed Simms.

Funds raised from the spring concert will help to fund future productions and travels of the JYC. The choir will next start preparations for its annual yuletide season production, Christmas Joy, scheduled for early December at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI.


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