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Date: 12.17.06             

Meyer Levin Annual Winter Concert Artists
Play to Packed House

Steelbands, Chorus, Musicians & Dancers
put on Gala Event

 

Winter Concert in Pictures
 

New York - The Performing Arts Center at Meyer Levin's Junior High School I.S. 285 was transformed into a musical mecca for the educational institution's annual Winter Concert.  Located in Brooklyn, New York, Meyer Levin's student body put on an event chock full of music and dance.  A program displaying the talents of the Mixed Chorus, Senior Concert Band, Sixth Grade Chorus, dancers, and steelbands from the school's sixth, seventh and eighth grades, along with the Higher Levin Steel Orchestra - played to an auditorium with standing room only.  Proud mamas and papas, along with family, friends and well-wishers had turned out in force for this particular calendar event.  The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening were principal Edward Gentile and assistant principal Denise Holder (pictured), respectively.  The former would return in the unadvertised role of surprise vocalist later on in the program.

The event began mere minutes after its scheduled 7:00 PM start.  Vocalists Ezra Davis, Brittany Morgan and Johnathan Jones, along with rapper Ryan Toby took the spotlight soon after with Meyer Levin's Mixed Chorus (pictured, right).  With a repertoire of the Peace Canon, We Are Young and Joyful, Joyful (from Sister Act 2), these youngsters reveled in the spotlight as strong leads, with the enthusiastic and skilled backing of their fellow chorus singers.  Davis (pictured, left) is obviously a rising star, a fact acknowledged by the audience who roared in approval at the mention of his name even before he sang a single note along with fellow soloist Johnathan Jones. 

There were just about two hours for the evening's activities, and the show ran like well-oiled machinery.  Both Meyer Levin's Senior Concert Band and Sixth Grade Chorus followed on the heels of the Mixed Chorus. The dancers who took the spotlight next were experienced by everyone in the auditorium - literally.  They came down the side and center aisles, and, together with still more on stage - went through their paces within the ambience of the audience, who enjoyed their number immensely.

After a very short intermission, the second half of the concert got underway with soloist Crystal Ally who delivered quite a competent and enjoyable performance of the seasonal Who Would Imagine A King, accompanied by instructor Tichard Chapman on steelpan.  Steelbands from Meyer Levin's sixth, seventh and eighth grades were next.  Classmates in the audience called out to friends in the bands as they took the stage (as they had in the choral performances).  Grins were returned as the young musicians took their place behind their steelpan instruments.  The rewards of the bands' practice sessions under the skilled leadership of instructor Tichard Chapman were evident as they moved through their seasonal and popular selections.  Two surprise vocalists lent their talents for the holiday classic Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.  The students, and others in the auditorium cheered and hollered when one turned out to be their very own principal, Edward Gentile.

Chapman's own senior orchestra dubbed Higher Levin took the stage after the three 'younger' bands.  How Chapman has brought out the musical best in these youngsters can only be described as pure genius, or - plain common sense - depending on how one looks at it.  Enjoyment is one adjective, but almost ecstatic may be more apt.  Because of time allocation - Higher Levin pannists (pictured) dropped 'hooks' of one popular dancehall-style hit after another in a medley.  These young ladies and young men simply had a blast while they performed.  The same was true of their classmates in the audience, along with other visitors.  Higher Levin had the auditorium rocking as the kids sang the hooks while the steel orchestra played.  They did not forget the season or the time of the year, however, and served up some holiday fare within their repertoire.   When When Steel Talks saw Higher Levin one year ago, they were a fledgling steelband.  At the Winter Concert, they have grown noticeably in membership.  With that type of repertoire and fervor, delivering not only conventional and contemporary selections on pan, but also the youngsters' own 'happening' music - Tichard Chapman (pictured, left) could find his Higher Levin orchestra expanding much in size, with instrument availability, perhaps, being the only limitation.  Brilliant, Mr. Chapman - well done.  With the proven stats of the positive effects of music involvement on students and their grades, it is going to be an interesting academic  year. 

It is kudos also to the school's principal and assistant principal(s) for having wholeheartedly embraced, encouraged and supported the steelpan artform as a main part of their curriculum, and to parents and others behind the scenes.  The obvious rapport among the students, their principal, assistant principal and others appears to have contributed in no small way to making the 2006 Winter Concert at Meyer Levin a resounding success!

Visit Higher Levin at www.HigherLevin.com

Basement Press Corp
2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved
 

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