CENTRE STAGE: The Mona-based choir has energy and stylish flair to spare.
The University Chorale may be the kid sister of the internationally renowned University Singers, but with their startlingly mature stage presence and wonderfully diverse and escapist repertoire, they can give their older sibling quite a run for their money.
The 28-voice choir, under the direction of O'Neil Jones (himself a member of the Singers), made this lucidly clear at the Philip Sherlock Centre on the weekend as they staged their 2014 concert season, a rhythmic and richly entertaining melange of classical selections, Negro spirituals, Afro-Caribbean and Jamaican folk gems, showtunes and a dash of reggae. A neat and winning package.
Still, what makes them truly appealing, and fun to listen to, is the irresistible joie de vivre they bring to the stage, and repeatedly so, whether rendering a robust take on "Shadowland" (from The Lion King soundtrack), on which the talented Danielle Lee lends commanding solo work, or the melodiously heartfelt delight "Done Made My Vow," to mention a couple of the prime highlights.
The beautiful, varied lighting and vibrant array of costume changes added to the spicy variety. But it was the fantastic repertoire that proved most memorable and applause-worthy. And what UWI Chorale/University Singers concert would be complete without the triumvirate of Noel Dexter, Djenne Greaves and Dr. Kathy Brown turning in some of their fabulous arrangements. They delivered big time, with Greaves interpreting Bob Marley's best love songs and a medley of dancehall hits; Brown looking to the Motherland for her mighty version of "Senzenina"; and Dexter dipping into the archives and resurfacing with a sprightly, humorous folk suite.
That the soloists were barely audible at times (particularly during the rendition of Happy Feet's "I Wish") is my lone complaint. But that takes nothing away from the show's overall success. Put simply, it's impossible to resist the choir's grace, flair and charm.