Directed by Leslie Clement of UWI’s Department for Creative and Festival Arts (DFCA) were the 40 musicians of brass and woodwind, assisted by pan, keyboard, drum-set and guitar, and at times accompanied by vocalists.
Master of ceremonies Judith Clement related each song’s theme to the challenges of modern life, yet constantly praised the young musicians for rising above it all.
Amid a theme of Reflections, a wide variety of genres in the 14 songs presented left lots of room for each guest to pick his/her favourite. In Old Glory Triumphant marking the Allied victory in World War II, the group recreated the swagger and bluster of a marching band on parade.
Yet, for On Angel Wings, a remembrance of the war dead, the mood was of sheer love. Calming, gentle woodwind notes soared like souls into the loving embrace of a brassy heaven. It all ended in a victorious swell, the whole an unfathomable blend of the tearful and cheerful.
In Scenes from Aladdin, the timpani (kettle drum) and trombone scarily recreated the giant strides of a genie, evaded by the lighter instruments portraying the nonchalant cheekiness of the boy, Aladdin.
For several songs, the vocalists accompanied, yet surprisingly let the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell duet, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, pass as just an instrumental! Four singers – Geneva Chadband, Samanatha Joseph, Chris Sookhoo and Anton Williams – really “felt” Michael Jackson’s Heal the World. They were pleasant and passionate but not morose, expressively backed by the instruments.
Kern Summerville offered Teddy Pendegrass’ soulful anthem, Wake Up Everybody.
Chadband, Anton Williams and Justin Philip brought down the house with a lively rendition of Ella Andall’s D Journey perhaps better known as Ring de Bell.