NYOJ to host free concert

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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The National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) continues its outreach programme — NYOJ Gives Back — with a free concert entitled 'Musical Enlightenment: Lighting the Path to Success' at the YMCA on Hope Road in St Andrew on June 3.

According to executive director of the NYOJ Karen Prentice, the programme seeks to spread classical music to people and communities which would not necessarily have access to this genre, as well as give members of the orchestra practice in performing for an audience.

“In the past we have performed at Bellevue Hospital, nursing homes and children's homes. Each year there is normally an end of term concert, and what we are doing is giving the students and members exposure. The thing is the audiences are usually so appreciative, which encourages our musicians,” Prentice told the Jamaica Observer.

This concert will feature the NYOJ senior orchestra along with their professional instructors, including Rafael Salazar and Darren Young; the junior orchestra, the string orchestra and the symphonic band.

Prentice said the music to be presented will be wide and varied.

“We will present the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky from The Nutcracker, Ode to Joy, St Lawrence Overture, and some local music with Hol' Him Joe. We will also be presenting a piece entitled Venezuela. This was introduced to us by a group from that country when they came here for the opening of the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre in downtown Kingston. We will be performing this in tribute to José Antonio Abreu, the maestro who developed El Sistema ... the programme of music for social change on which the NYOJ is based. The maestro died a few weeks ago,” she said.

The NYOJ is a non-profit, non-government organisation driven by its mission to develop youth orchestras in Jamaica using classical music as a tool to inspire, empower and enhance the lives of at-risk youth. Through the provision of structured classical music training and instruction, the programme aims to instil core values such as discipline, perseverance and cooperation, and to foster the emotional and intellectual development of the students.

The NYOJ began operations in 2009 at St Andrew's Technical High School and has since expanded to include eight centres throughout the central and eastern regions of the island, operating six days a week with well over 600 students registered from 50 different schools.

— Richard Johnson

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