Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dr. Lisa Walker of U.S. Conducts Jamaica Symphony Orchestra, Which Has Steel Pans

[The Jamaica Symphony Orchestra in concert at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies, Mona, on Sunday. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer (Photo from The Gleaner)]

Here are excerpts from an email from David Robinson, who is in Jamaica:
“I am having a great time in Jamaica serving as artist-in-residence with the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra.” “It was founded by Chicagoan, Lisa Darby Walker. I met her at NANM in 1991 when she was a college student in grad school.” “She has been teaching in Jamaica for about nine years.” “Please check out their website at” “As artist-in-residence, I am playing cello plus giving cello workshops. There is not a professional cellist on the island. I will also be instructing the children that are involved with some of the arrangements I have done. I will be here until Dec. 2nd. The two concerts we have done were packed. They were introductions to orchestra music to Jamaican people as a narrator explains each piece, each composer, and so on."

The Gleaner
"Caribbean classic - Jamaica's unique symphony orchestra showcases talent"
Published: Wednesday November 25, 2009
Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
“Jamaica's renown as a wonderfully musical nation has come not only because of our prowess in reggae and jazz. We have produced, too, world-class opera singers and classical music instrumentalists.”

"Now, add to the above a symphony orchestra which surely is one of the world's largest and definitely the only major one with a steel-band section. Formed in September 2008, the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra (JSO) has more than 100 members and, together with the traditional four sections of a symphony orchestra - the strings, woodwind, brass and percussion - it has a full steel pan unit, which gives it a sound that is both unique and authentically Caribbean. (The steel pan, originating in Trinidad and Tobago, is reputedly the only new musical instrument invented in the 20th century).”

“Impressive sight
The second half was devoted to performances by the JSO. The large stage, filled with 100-plus classical musicians and their instruments, was an impressive sight, one a Reggae Sumfest Dancehall Night could never duplicate. Pieces by Rossini, Bach, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky were played by the JSO, and nine-year-old violinist Christian Allicock was featured as a soloist in Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor, Mvt. 1, Op 3. Additionally, Jamaican composer David Aarons conducted the orchestra in his own work, Little Dancehall Fugue. The concert ended with the JSO playing an echo-filled version of the Hallejujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.”

Comments by email
The correct web address for Jamaica Symphony Orchestra is Thanks. David Robinson
V Interesting! Thanks. I had heard that they had formed and would very much like to know more. Regards, Mike S. Wright

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