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Lydians give fans a Christmas treat

Saturday, December 14, 2013
Freetown’s Muhammad Muwakil, left, and Lou Lyons perform Jerusalem with the backing of the Lydians choir during the premier of Christmas — A Season of Love at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, on Thursday. The concert continues this weekend. Photo courtesy’s Kwesi Marcano

The Lydians took an almost full house of patrons on an uplifting journey of joyful music under the theme of four hearts at their concert, Christmas—A Season of Love, which premiered a four-night run at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, on Thursday evening. The Broken Heart and  the Holy Heart, with appropriate icons as stage backdrop, were the feature of the opening half’s themed selections, and The Festive Heart and The Joyful Heart, also with iconic images as backdrop, showcased music reflective of the themes on the playbill’s second segment.



Spoken-word artiste Muhammad Muwakil narrated his thought-provoking composition Distractions in a Season of Love, gracefully interpreted by members of the Little Carib Theatre Dance Company, to open the programme. Following this, the full choir, accompanied by Lydian Steel and under the baton of Victor Prescod, sang  Seasons of Love, Ring the Bells and The Glorias of Christmas.


Muwakil returned with Lou Lyons, as the Freetown Collective, to generate the first real thrill of the evening with their works  Love In Transition, Go, and Jerusalem. Their music and spoken-word pieces highlight daily life struggles, the power of love, and the ups and down of relationships. The Lydian Men and Queen’s Royal College (QRC) Chorale, in a first-time collaboration, then paid tribute to the Holy Heart, represented by an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 


The combination offered Arcadelt’s Ave Maria, after which the chorale, conducted by Candice Caton, won loud applause for its version of I Believe, which included a quodlibet with Ave Maria that was first published in 1972 by Shawnee Music, and is frequently performed by choirs at Christmas time. 


Soloist soprano Nakita Gadsby offered a stunning take on the traditional American spiritual He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands, and veteran Lydian soloist soprano Joanne Pyle used her powerful voice to give a pore-raising rendition of O Holy Night that earned loud acclaim.


Highlight of the second segment was the item titled From Eddie With Love, which featured a solo performance by internationally-acclaimed tenor Edward Cumberbatch, who has been tenor soloist in many choral works and performed the lead tenor roles in several operas. 


In his rich, powerful voice, Cumberbatch opened with Handel’s Comfort Ye/Every Valley; teamed with soprano Marielle Cooper-Leach to execute Jane Sherberg’s beautiful Christmas duet He Gave The Greatest Gift of All; raised the roof with Nessun Dorma, an aria from the opera Turandot by Puccini; and stirred emotions with Cradle in Bethlehem.


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