Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Orrett Rhoden at Mountambrin Theatre – Gallery

I take a break from my usual topics to write about The First International Orrett Rhoden Music Festival of Jamaica 2012.
Mountambrin Tower
             We have been hearing about Orrett Rhoden’s achievements as a classical pianist from time to time over the last thirty years, so were excited to hear that, on Sunday, February 6, 2012 he would be performing at a venue within reach of Montego Bay. Along the road to Savannah la Mar, we turned left in Whithorn, on the road to Darliston. After about a mile, we wondered if we were on the right road. We were reassured when we saw Toad Road on the left and a sign to Mountambrin. We drove a mile as directed, seeing magnificent views of the Westmoreland plain to our left. We were in no doubt that we had arrived at the right place, when we saw beautiful gardens and unusual architecture.

We entered the theatre gallery at the upper level. Walls are covered in paintings and there are carvings everywhere.
At the western end of the theatre is a particularly magnificent piece of artwork in stained glass, “The Lost Boys of Sudan” by Rus Gruhlke, painter, sculptor and poet. He is the owner of Mountambrin Retreat, which he purchased from Alex Haley in 1975.

View from the Gallery

Orrett Rhoden opened the concert with works by Bach and Scarlatti which he played on the harpsichord. He acknowledged that the instrument wasn’t responding as it should, so to compensate he moved to the piano to play some well-known pieces by Chopin.

Orrett Rhoden and Elaine Oxamendi Vicet (MC)

Bunny Rose and Sharon Martini

Dr. Illo Humphrey, baritone, sang accompanied by Orrett Rhoden, his friend of thirty years. Later in the programme he sang unaccompanied. He is a mediaevalist so his selections were taken from that period. Most were in Latin or French, so he recited the words followed by their translation before singing. He also explained the influence of the synagogue and the Jewish chant on singing in the Catholic church of that time.

In the ‘intermission’ Bunny Rose, cabaret pianist, played and then accompanied Sharon Martini, soprano. When he didn’t feel competent to accompany her singing “I could have danced all night” from My Fair Lady, Orrett Rhoden stepped up to the plate, much to the delight of the audience.

During the second half of the programme, staff from Northern Caribbean University displayed their talents. They were Edison Valencia, pianist; Rafael Salazar, clarinetist; Rosette Chisholm-Salazar, soprano; and Jose Carlos Oxamendi Vicet, violincellist. The MC for the programme was Elaine Oxamendi Vicet, Chair, Department of Communication Studies at NCU.

L-R: Rafael Salazar, Rosette Chisholm Salazar, Illo Humphrey, Jose Carlos and Edison Valencia

Illo Humphrey, Orrett Rhoden and Jose Carlos Oxamendi Vicet brought the concert to a close with a performance of the Solemn Mass by Cesar Franck written for organ (played on the piano), violincello and tenor.

L- R: Jose Carlos Oxamendi Vicet, Orrett Rhoden and Illo Humphrey

The brilliance of the performers, the ambiance at Mountambrin and the small but appreciative audience all contributed to the success of the final concert of The First International Orrett Rhoden Music Festival of Jamaica 2012. We hope this will become an annual event.

For futher information on the Orrett Rhoden Music Festival, see the Daily Gleaner Article of January 29, 2012: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120129/ent/ent7.html

On Sunday, March 25, 2012, The Boston Piano Quartet will be performing at the Mountambrin Theatre Gallery.

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