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An unforgettable night

Some of the participants of the 100 Voice Project.

by Davidson Bowen

Some do breakfast, lunch or even dinner when they meet. Ryan Boyce had this crazy idea — “Let’s do music for a meeting.”

That idea, The 100 Voice Project, this year in its third season, left patrons on their feet and applauding thunderously.

Holding hands with the Precious Touch Foundation, a charity with the mandate of granting wishes to children with life-threatening conditions, Boyce left patrons smiling in admiration, others fighting back tears, but all with a greater appreciation for that organisation when he graciously handed the baton over to Hasani Rowe, whose wish was to direct the orchestra and choral.

The 14 year old, whose quality of life is being affected by a brain tumour, masterfully led the orchestra and choir through a soulful offering of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, which also featured a solo by Addison Stoddard from Turks and Caicos.

Another wish granted: mission accomplished! It came with a standing ovation and encore — and they “all helped to sing, these songs of freedom” when for a few minutes Rowe was living his dream, not hindered by memory loss.

Boyce pointed out that Rowe didn’t just make a wish, but he also assisted in making it come through, attended every rehearsal with serious dedication and chose a piece of music that he fell in love with and appreciated.

Also leaving the audience in the St. Thomas Parish Church Sunday night with their mouths open was flautist Dexter Norville. The National Development Scholarship winner who also attended Surrey University, swayed like a palm tree, balanced on his toes like a ballerina, opened his eyes wide, not in surprise but confidence, closed them tightly with passion and then there were moments when he bore absolutely no expression or emotion as he wowed the audience.

The words rich, soothing and even impossible came to mind as Norville’s mastery of the instrument at times tricked the hearing into thinking more than one flute was being played. There was no doubt why he won the “Young Musician of the Year” award in Guilford, England in 2000. In Bajan term, de man had de flute talking, den.

The clear, distinctive voice of Ishaka McNeil took the audience back to Carifesta VI in Trinidad, with the rendition of Land of Sea and Sun. But there was no mistaking where this Irvin Burgie composition had its roots as it was presented with subtle infusions of spouge.

A staple on the 100 Voice Project seems to be Addison Stoddard, whose rich, mellow tones, lingered in the air and were then transformed into the echoing hums of the audience as he gave a savory rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah and an encore that was twice as nice as his first offering.

This year’s project featured artists from Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Dominica, St. Vincent, Belgium, Turks and Caicos and host Barbados showcasing a wide range of work from Handel’s Zadok the Priest to local compositions by Irvin Burgie, Roger Gittens and Ryan Boyce.

The 100 Voice Project is a work in progress with the concept that music is the universal language which can easily unite persons of various cultures. Boyce proved this over the weekend as he took his patrons in his own words to “the point where imagination meets reality and rejoices”.

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