JYC looks to conquer South Africa

By Sade Gardner
Observer writer

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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JAMAICA Youth Chorale (JYC) left the island on Sunday to compete in the eight-year-old World Choir Games in South Africa, scheduled from July 4–14.

Last Thursday the group hosted Journey: The Encore Edition at the University Chapel in St Andrew to cover travel expenses for 18 of its members. The event was a condensed version of its concert season held at the same venue in March.

“We have a strategy going ahead which included this show, and by all indications it was successful in terms of the financial support we needed to fill that gap. So full systems ahead — we just need to secure the plane tickets and hopefully everything works out, and we're good to go,” principal Gregory Simms told the Jamaica Observer after the event.

Simms had placed a $9-million target to aid the JYC in competing at the games in Tshwane.

Local choirs like Glenmuir High School Choir, Cari-Folk Singers and Nexus Performing Arts Company have entered in the past. The JYC first entered the games in 2012 and this year will compete in the second leg of the competition. Among the arrangements they will perform are Jzef Swider's Cantate Domino and Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo.

“The way the competition is structured you can't just go with music from your country and region, you really have to explore outside of that — so we're singing in these different languages and very different harmonies and we've been working on a repertoire to showcase the best in Jamaica in terms of singing and music,” said Simms. “We are ready. Anyone would want to earn a gold medal on an international stage and this would give us more exposure and (will) be good for Brand Jamaica,”

Attendees got a taste of a South African freedom medley arranged by Dr Kathy Brown, which is also on the competition set list. Led by the lively vocals of soloists Javaney Gayle, Cedron Walters and Danielle Brown, the medley explores hope, freedom and triumph, in an ode to the once-disenfranchised of South Africa in the 1980s. Brown said it did not take long for the choir to adapt to the piece.

“I love South African music; it's natural for me to hear it, listen to it and arrange it. The difficulty was not creating it, the difficulty was making sure I hear what I want when I finally teach it. I find in Jamaica, when it comes to teaching languages you just have to say it loudly three times and they get it. Some asked what the words meant, I explained, and they got it” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

The JYC's mission has been made possible through sponsors CHASE Fund, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and other anonymous donors.

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