News Releases

UWI Arts Chorale and National Sinfonia Orchestra celebrate 10th anniversary

For Release Upon Receipt - November 26, 2009

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Arts Chorale, in partnership with the National Sinfonia Orchestra, has been celebrating the start of its tenth anniversary season with two performances of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. One concert will be held at 6 p.m. on Sunday 13th December at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Harris Promenade, San Fernando. The other was on Saturday 5th December at the Daaga Auditorium, UWI St. Augustine Campus, and Guest performers, Adam Corneal, Michele Dowrich, and members of the prize-winning UWI Steel Ensemble, will also be featured.

Musical Director Jessel Murray explains that the Chichester Psalms is the perfect vehicle to showcase the talents of the UWI Arts Chorale and the National Sinfonia Orchestra, which the Chorale will perform in Hebrew (the original language of the Psalms).  The multi-metric settings and diverse rhythms, with the expanded percussion section, bring a high level of excitement to performance, and have challenged both the Chorale and the Orchestra.

The National Sinfonia Orchestra will add some Christmas cheer with orchestral performances of Carol of the Bells and the ever popular Sleigh Ride, and a special repeat performance of Kitchener’s Rainorama for traditional orchestra with the addition of steel pans. This piece, which had its first performance in Queen’s Hall in August, is the first prize-winning work from the recent Methanex competition. The Grand finale will be the rousing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, which will be performed with the Chorale, National Sinfonia Orchestra and UWI Steel.

The UWI Arts Chorale (formerly known as the Festival Arts Chorale) began work ten years ago under the direction of Jessel Murray with just 35 persons and has now grown to an accomplished group of 80 singers from The UWI and the wider community. Mr. Murray is well known to local audiences as one of the most experienced conductors in Trinidad and Tobago through his work with The UWI Arts Chorale, the National Sinfonia Orchestra and the National Steel Symphony Orchestra.

Apart from three major productions annually, including five full-length Cacique Award winning Broadway productions like Oliver! (Best Production 2007), The UWI Arts Chorale has brilliantly executed many of the choral/orchestral masterworks over the last ten years, including the Schubert Mass in G in April 2009. The group also performed alongside the National Steel Symphony Orchestra at their gala launch in 2008 and performed at the 2008 QRC Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan Jazz Festival. On The UWI campus, the group has performed at the popular Festival of Nine Lessons with Carols, and has constantly thrilled The UWI community at the start of its academic year with its cameo performances at the Matriculation and Graduation Ceremonies. Most recently, the Chorale performed at the closing ceremonies of UWI’s 60th Anniversary celebrations and the installation of the Campus Principal Professor Clement Sankat.

In 2008, the Chorale, along with The UWI Steel Ensemble, toured Massachusetts where they produced six performances in one week, including a concert where their reputation preceded them, according them a standing ovation at the start and the end of the concert. The Chorale and UWI Steel have recently accepted an invitation from The UWI Alumni group in New York and will present a full week of concerts in New York in April, 2010. The December concerts are the first of many activities to raise funds for that concert tour.

Tickets are priced at $125 and are available at The Department of Creative and Festival Arts, UWI, Agostini St., St. Augustine 662-2002 ext. 2510/3624.

To find out more, please contact (868) 743-0841 or (868) 398-8576, or email at

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Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.