A sellout crowd of 400 hundred music lovers was treated to ‘Midsummer Music’ on Friday, 25 June, at the new Cayman International School multi-purpose arena, featuring performances of pieces from several genres by the Cayman National Choir and Orchestra.
With the choir and orchestra approaching 100 in numbers, the event was just within the government COVID capacity limit of 500. Entering the huge auditorium, there was a keen sense of anticipation from the audience members as they took their seats.
Jonathan Taylor, the orchestra’s musical director and conductor, began the evening with a rousing ‘Salute to the Big Bands’ arranged by Clavin Custer – a piece which provided an opportunity to showcase many of the instruments in the accomplished symphony orchestra.
The programme switched from pieces for the choir alone (‘Any Dream will Do’, ‘Africa’, ‘Distant Land’ and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’) and orchestra (‘Variations on a Korean Folk Song’, ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ and ‘Danzón No.2’), with the 80-strong ensemble performing ‘Music’ by John Miles together in the finale.
There were sublime moments from soloists. Sarah Newman, violin leader, produced a faultless and exquisite rendering of the popular classic, ‘Méditation’ by Massenet.
Sue Horrocks, the choir’s musical director introduced Michaela Adams, who entranced the audience with the beautiful solo part of the choral classic, ‘Pie Jesu’ by John Rutter. Later, she welcomed back Emilie Edgington, who first sang with the National Choir when she was 12 and returned from university overseas to sing the lovely Billy Joel song, ‘And So It Goes.’
Jonathan Taylor announced that three of the orchestra members at high school were leaving to continue their education overseas.
“The National Orchestra is a fragile thing,” Taylor said, and appealed to those members of the Jubilate Youth Orchestra in the audience to practice hard this summer and aspire to take their place in the National Orchestra. He went on to say that his ambition is to expand the orchestra to provide the depth of a full symphony orchestra of 60-plus musicians.
“We would love to hear from competent string players, including violin, viola, cello and double bass, as well as French horn, oboe and bassoon players,” Taylor added.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the evening was the orchestra’s performance of ‘Danzón No. 2’ by the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. The composition featured solos for clarinet, oboe, piano, French horn, trumpet and piccolo. The piece gained worldwide popularity in 2007 when it was performed by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, but it sounded just as electrifying performed in Cayman.
In introducing the final number – ‘Music’ – Taylor shared some of the lyrics, which seemed to perfectly sum up the joy and passion of the professional and amateur musicians on the stage.
“Music was my first love,
And it will be my last,
Music of the future,
And music of the past.
To live without my music,
Will be impossible to do,
‘Cause in this world of troubles,
My music pulls me through.”
Any persons interested in joining the Cayman National Choir or Orchestra can email [email protected] for further information.