The Diocesan Festival Choir, which has been in the vanguard of choral and sacred music presentations in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean for 91 years, has established a Hall of Fame to recognize Jamaicans who have made outstanding contributions in both genres.
The names of the first ten inductees – two of whom are being honoured posthumously – were announced on Sunday, November 27 by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert Thompson, Chairman of the Choir’s Management Committee, at the Group’s Christmas Concert at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Chapel.
Bishop Thompson explained that “Inductees were selected based on their demonstration of unquestionable musical excellence as performers, composers and musicians for more than 30 years; their influence on the sustained development of choral and classical music in Jamaica; the length and depth of their career and body of work; as well as their impact nationally and internationally.”
The inaugural inductees are:
Dr. Richard Beckford, Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choirs and Coordinator of Music Programmes at South Carolina State University. Dr. Beckford, who gives many concerts in Britain and the United States of America as a choral conductor, an organ recitalist, church musician and piano accompanist, also performed with the Diocesan Festival Choir for its 2015 and 2016 Concert Seasons.
Mr. Trevor Beckford, renowned organist at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega, Spanish Town for more than 50 years, Choirmaster and Music Teacher. Over the years, Mr. Beckford has played at Services attended by distinguished visitors, including royalty and the Archbishop of Canterbury; and he has also given numerous organ recitals. He is a former President of the Jamaica Guild of Organists, Choirmasters and Associates.
Mrs. Paulette Bellamy, an accomplished classical piano accompanist, violinist, composer, arranger, and Music Teacher. She is the leader of Touch of Elegance ensemble which includes some of Jamaica’s most versatile musicians, and which has delighted audiences locally and internationally, for the past 30 years. Her excellence at her craft has earned her the National Honour – The Order of Distinction, Officer Class; and the Silver Musgrave Medal.
Mrs. Marilyn Brice-McDonald, well-knownmezzo soprano, whose more than 40 years with the Jamaican Folk Singers, makes her one of the longest serving members of the Group. She has sung with several leading choirs in Jamaica, including the ‘Y’ Choral Group, the Diocesan Festival Choir, the Methodist Chorale and the National Chorale of Jamaica. Mrs. Brice-McDonald holds the prestigious Bronze Musgrave Medal, awarded for her work in the field of music.
Mr. Noel Dexter, eminent educator and composer, who is best known for his seminal work with the University Singers during his 35 years as Director of Music at The UWI. Under his guidance, the Group gained international recognition, performing across the English-speaking Caribbean, the United States and England. A former Coordinator of the Caribbean Church Music Programme of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, he has also written many hymns. He holds the Doctor of Laws Degree from the UWI; the Order of Distinction; the Gold Musgrave Medal and the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation.
Mr. Karl Fuller, one of the country’s leading hymnologists and Choir Directors. He has devoted a lifetime to the Music Ministry of the Church, and served as organist of the St. Ann Parish Church for 55 years. He served as Project Coordinator on the Provincial Commission for Liturgy and Music which was responsible for the production of the CPWI Hymnal, published in 2010; and he hosts the weekly radio programme “Great Christian Hymns of Our Time,” which highlights the origins of many well-known hymns.
Miss Carole Reid, one of Jamaica’s most admired and awarded sopranos. She began singing as a teenager when she joined the Diocesan Festival Choir; and she became a soloist at age 15. Miss Reid, who is a Bronze Musgrave Medallist, sings several genres of music and is acclaimed by audiences both in Jamaica and overseas. She is a member of the Choir of Christ Church, Vineyard Town; The National Chorale of Jamaica; and the National Dance Theatre Company Singers with whom she has travelled extensively.
Mr. David Reid, whose distinguished career spans more than 60 years, and who has received several awards, including the Bronze Musgrave Medal, for his contribution to music development in Jamaica. He was inducted into the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company’s Hall of Fame in 2004 and, in the following year, the Diocese honoured him for his work in promoting church music for more than 50 years. He has appeared as tenor soloist with all the country’s leading choral groups; and he has featured in television and radio presentations in Jamaica and abroad.
The two posthumous inductees are Mr. George Goode, who directed the Choir from its formation in 1925 until his retirement in 1952; and his successor, Mrs. Hazel Lawson-Street, whose emphasis on the quality of the choral presentation helped to establish the Choir as a widely-acclaimed Group.
An Honour Board displaying the names of the Inductees is to be mounted at Church House.
IMAGES FROM THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH