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High achievers in concert... Vast improvement in string category

By Justin Whyte, Entertainment Editor

THERE IS a silver lining on the classical music horizon signifying that the love of music among the young is alive and well.

Assurance of this came on the afternoons of last Saturday and Sunday at the High Achievers Concert, presented by the Association of Music Teachers and Friends of the Arts. It was held at the School of Music, Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston.

Over two days, 100 students out of a total of about 700 performed. They had gained distinctions in recently held examinations set by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London, England in classical music, including singing, violin, cornet, saxophone, viola, clarinet, flute, with the majority having studied piano.

According to Maurice Gordon, representative for the Royal School of Music in Jamaica, although there were 10 entries less this year, the results were the best in over 12 years of the competition. Mr. Gordon said for the first time, 100 students received distinctions in voice and instruments with eight of them winning special prizes.

Toussaint Mears-Clarke won the association's Special Award for gaining the highest mark in the island, with a score of 143 points out of 150 for his grade 5 piano playing. He was also outstanding in his grade 7 violin examination.

Other prize winners were Naomi Robertson, grade 1 piano, as well as Lianna Wong and Deidre-Ann Johnson, joint winners for grade two piano. The grade 3 piano award went to Annalee Falconer and grade 4 to Kristal Legister. Ivana Kenny walked away with the prize for grade 6 piano, while Anna Bethune won in the grade 7 category.

Special mention was also made of Sherrie-Ann Thomas, violin and Albert Shawn Hird, flute, who were successful in the Advance Certificate category.

The two days of exceptionally fine music were marked by professionalism. The programme flowed with dispatch and both functions began on time at 4:00 p.m.

The demeanour of the students drew high praise from most persons of the audience. Based on the trend taking place, these young musicians might not be able to find lucrative full-time jobs in their areas of training, and in most cases, might have to juggle performances with full-time jobs.

"However, good music training is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it, even if we so desire," says Michael White, in his book, 'Music And The Mind'.

The occasion was stamped with excellence. However, it is the hope that next time around, a more spacious venue will be found or make it a three-day event.

Again, as in former years, the bulk of the achievements were for piano, probably because it is the main instrument accessible to everyone for learning music. Also most of the our music teachers are trained on piano. It should be noted too that only a few of the students were trained in their schools. In fact, the majority had private tutoring.

In the main, the young musicians displayed creativity, imagination and style. It was also encouraging to see our young musicians depending less on music scores and playing from memory.

However, those who used the scores as guide did much better than those who did not. Although there were fewer entries in the string and wind categories, they were of a very high standard and the youngsters displayed brilliance.

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