Feast of Lights 2021 promises to be one of the best events in the concert’s 50-year tradition, according to Dr. Marilyn Anderson, chair of the Department of Music and Fine Arts at Northern Caribbean University (NCU). The concert will stream live this Sunday, December 5, 2021, on NCU YouTube and Facebook platforms. NCU FM host Arnold Kelly will serve as the Master of Ceremonies alongside broadcast journalist Andrea Chisholm.
“This Feast of Lights is really special in the range of performers that we’re having, and the type of musical items and variety will be most interesting and [a motivation] to experience the event,” Anderson said.
The programme includes an international line-up: the Croydon SDA Gospel Group from the United Kingdom, a trumpet performance from a Canadian university, an orchestra from Mexico, and Mexican cellist Diana Roldan. In demand local acts such as the Foster Triplets, the Jamaica Youth Chorale, and the Jamaica Choral Scholars, directed by Andrew Marshall, will also perform. The NCU Chorale and vocalist Danielle Brown are staples of Feast of Lights who will once again make an appearance this year.
Over 80 percent of the concert performances will be pre-recorded with only a few live and in-person performances. Dr. Anderson revealed that adapting this virtual approach in rehearsing and staging the concert has been challenging.
“Music, essentially, has always been a face-to-face activity,” Dr. Anderson explained. “So, you have to have that sort of interaction for the synergy and for the audience to experience the real impact of what it is that you’re trying to portray to them, because they are the ones that are so important.”
Anderson still expects a quality event since last year’s virtual Feast of Lights was a success, and the concert adjusted to new locations in the past. The music department has taken the event outside of Mandeville, Jamaica to the cities of Kingston, Montego Bay, and Miami in the United States. The theme of Feast of Lights 2021, “Christ – The Light to a World in Darkness,” is a call to reflect on the birth of Jesus into the earth to be a sacrifice, in spite of the many difficulties the world experienced this year.
“Feast of Lights highlights the fact that Christ is the main focus, and not in essence, all of the Christmas fanfare… the world looks to that, but as Christians we look to Him,” Anderson said.
The proceeds of Feast of Lights will go towards two current projects of the music department: refurbishing a part of the roof on the building and offering scholarships to NCU students. The other project is the Community Music School, which has been operating consistently since 2014.
Community Music School
“The Community Music School offers lessons to anybody interested in learning music, whether it be an instrument or anything music related. We have voice lessons, piano lessons, guitar, organ, violin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, steel pan, and other instruments as well,” said the school’s coordinator, Earlon Cornwall.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all the lessons are taught individually, and most students are doing a blend of online and face-to-face sessions. The school is open to people of all age groups in communities in Manchester and beyond.
“The youngest that we had is three and the oldest is probably people in their 60s,” Cornwall said. “Because of the varied age range that we have, some people will come in just wanting to learn for their own personal gratification; some people want to become more or less established musicians; some people, they’re interested in taking exams and so on,” he explained. “We work with their own ideas on what they would like to have accomplished from the school.”
The Community Music School will not perform in the 2021 production of Feast of Lights, but students showcase performances in the school’s own concert held at the end of every semester. In the future, Cornwall hopes that the Community Music School will also have musical ensembles established from its student population.
Feast of Lights started in 1969 by the music department’s then director Zenobia Davis. It is a now a renowned annual musical event that occurs in December at Northern Caribbean University.
Written by Jayda Lunan/CCMPR