March 2022 Volume 18

Standing the test of time

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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While the times have certainly changed, there remain a few institutions that have stood the test. Among the pantheon of local traditional structures stands the now 75-year-old St Augustine's Chapel and its award-winning Kingston College Chapel Choir (KCCC).

The chapel was dedicated on February 6, 1947 by then Archbishop Hardie to the glory of God and the ideals of St Augustine of Hippo. Its aim was providing a place for regular worship and quiet meditation, and aiding in developing the love and practice of music.

The KCCC has developed a reputation for quality music, hosting concerts at Christmas and Easter, and has produced several recordings. The choir continues to earn distinction and merit awards from Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examinations.

In a previous interview with the Jamaica Observer, Kingston College Principal Dave Myrie stated: “The chapel is a central pillar of the institution… as we work to instil a moral code and sense of what is right…” with the many students.

He asserted that it has been the place the school community gathers to “affirm the central role of spirituality and who we are”, adding that, despite the perception, “Kingston College is not a sports school; Kingston College is a school that does sports.”

Among the awe-inspiring features of the chapel are its stained glass windows and majestic pipe organ.

Over these many years, the 1947 pipe organ has been in need of an overhaul and restoration. This has been undertaken though the kind assistance of old boy Dennis Lalor. The work began in 2018 at a cost of some $23 million. The organ, however, is yet to be reinstalled due to challenges associated with the restorers returning to Jamaica with the refurbished innards.

Also due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, grand celebrations and gathering to mark the platinum anniversary have been delayed. However, the school community will host solemn evensong, streamed live via YouTube, this afternoon at 4 o'clock. The programme will include classics and traditional Jamaican selections.

St Augustine's Chapel and the KCCC are considered by many as the epitome of spiritual and musical reverence in the 21st century, as they represent time-honoured traditions of a community dear to the heart of an institution marked by excellence.

Present choir director Audley Davidson told the Observer: “We can't wait for a time again when we can fill this hallowed space with great sounds of music and prayers of the faithful as we honour the work of those before me such as Edeline Soutar, George Goode, Douglas Forrest, Barry Davies, Hugh Moss-Solomon, Marjorie Whylie, Gordon Appleton, Donald Morris, Peter Miller, and Wayne Moore.

“But the times are different, so we encourage the entire family to meet us online for our 75th anniversary,” Davidson charged.

— Miguel A Thomas

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