The University of the West Indies (UWI) Chorale presented their annual concert season last weekend. Under the theme “Spectrum of Hope 3.0”, the group of talented young performers highlighted autism awareness in Jamaica, donating the concert proceeds to the Jamaica Autism Support Association. The series of performances were held at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative & Performing Arts.
I had the privilege of attending the early Sunday show and I was treated to a plethora of dynamic and melodious arrangements. It is clear that the UWI Chorale is definitely not short of talent; they’re rich in skilled performers and composers.
The UWI Chorale reverently opened their performance in worship, with numbers such as “All is Well” and “When You Believe” (from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack) to engage the audience in quiet contemplation. The worship continued with the chorale paying homage to our ancestry with an African prayer “Ndikhokhele Bawo”, among other worship songs. Led by a range of powerful soloists, the performers had a chance to show off their exceptional vocals, creative arrangements, and seamless harmonies that can only come after hours of practice.
“Spectrum of Hope”, the chorale’s original song about autism awareness, was undeniably the highlight of the concert’s first half, which ended with a well-choreographed energetic performance of Sia’s “The Greatest”. Wearing blue T-shirts in support of autism awareness, the chorale members ensured that we left the concert with their message in mind.
And the chorale definitely did not stop showing off their versatility at intermission! The second half of the show featured musical theatre performances from popular productions such as “Anastasia” and “Les Miserables”. The performers then changed pace and launched an exhilarating segment of Jamaican folk songs and social commentary. We in the audience were roaring with laughter during the chorale’s signature performances of “Politricks”, “Poor Lizzie Jane” and “Never Tell a Woman”.
Finally, the chorale changed speed again to pay tribute to our Rastafarian heritage with “Nyabinghi Chant” and an intense performance of “Concrete Jungle”. The group also performed the popular T.O.K. hit “Cry” and “Blood is Thicker Than Water” from choreographer Michael Holgate’s Riot Act. And who said choristers couldn’t dance?? The show ended in true style with “Dance Buss” which had the audience almost on their feet in glee.
While the vocal prowess of the chorale members is truly remarkable, it was their impeccable performing skills that really drew the crowd in. It was clear that not only were we enjoying the show, but so were the performers. Exciting dance moves, costume changes and kilowatt smiles lit up the stage, making the experience a truly enjoyable one. Also enriching the performances was the live band, who kept the energy of the show at a maximum for the whole night.
All around, kudos to the UWI Chorale and their musical director, Shawn R. A. Wright, for a truly wonderful night in aid of a great cause! I look forward to more performances from this talented group.