BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat’s youth and three young musical maestros treated the intimate crowd gathered for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Charity Concert on Friday, June 8 at the Government House in Woodlands to almost two hours of music, ranging from the classical to popular.
The concert was to support the new Montserrat Foundation which has been funding a music programme at the local secondary school.
Music teacher Jonathan Ang of Singapore has been working at the Montserrat Secondary School over the past year through this foundation. During this period, he learned the steel pan with the help of Herman “Cupid” Francis and started the MSS Steel Pan Ensemble which performed “Hold My Hand” by Akon and Michael Jackson to Ang’s arrangement at the benefit concert.
There were also performances by the Montserrat Youth Choir, also a new project of Ang’s, made up of students from the secondary school. They sang “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, “Fireflies” by Owl City, “Hold My Hand” and “Shackles” by Mary Mary.
The headliner for the evening was Joycelyn Freeman, a London-based pianist who is growing in demand across the United Kingdom. She performed pieces from Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, and Prokofiev. Her pieces were all entertaining and emotional and earned her a rousing applause after each number and a standing ovation at the end.
Also performing was Filipe Sousa, a young improvisational pianist from Portugal. He played a four-hand improvisatory piece with Ang which the crowd found quite delightful. Sousa said he has enjoyed his time on Montserrat and marvelled that at the end of the week he felt completely at home.
Impromptu performances were also given by wife of the Governor, Mrs. Sujue Davis who sang “Marriage of Figaro” and Mrs. Shirley Spycalla who performed “Music of the Night” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.
The Montserrat Foundation was an initiative of Judy Martin, wife of Sir George Martin in 2010. The idea was to get musicians based in the United Kingdom to come to Montserrat and give one year of their time to teaching the young people here.
His Excellency the Governor Adrian Davis said of the evening that “the feedback has been very positive Jonathan, Jocelyn and Felipe are very talented young musicians and the audience appreciated the opportunity to see and hear such performances in Montserrat. The foundation’s reputation has been enhanced from being associated with the concert and in particular by sponsoring Jonathan’s very successful attachment to Montserrat.
“I know that interviews are currently underway for Jonathan’s successor. He or she will have a hard act to follow but I am confident that there is a reservoir of musical talent and enthusiasm in Montserrat that Jonathan has tapped and that his successor will be able to take forward,” Governor Davis stated.
Upon hearing of the concert and its success Sir George Martin said he was pleased that his wife’s “off the cuff” idea was bringing positive results. “All credit due to Jonathan who I am sure is a young man who is going places. Credit, too, to The Guildhall School of Music for their co-operation and enthusiasm for the project. And of course we would have been nowhere without Gordon Young and the Foundation members.”
A replacement for Jonathan is being interviewed so that the work he began with the steel ensemble and choir will be able to continue.
Photo caption: Pianist Joycelyn Freeman performing at Government House during the Queen’s Jubilee Charity Concert to benefit the Montserrat Foundation on Friday, June 8, 2012. (Wayne Fenton Photo)