The Kingston College Chapel Choir
The Kingston College Chapel Choir was started in 1947 to accompany the newly constructed St. Augustine Chapel at the Clovelly Park campus. The creation of the choir was, however, more than a religious act. It was a part of the building out of the school’s offerings.
The early fathers realized that the wholesome education of young people went beyond the classroom. Different channels were required to hone the creativity of the human spirit, to develop the desire for excellence, to inculcate habits of discipline and hard work and to appreciate beauty. The choir like many other activities in the school, such as sports, cadets, clubs and societies, was meant to assist in developing the young men who came under the influence of the school.
In addition to all of this, Bishop Gibson wanted the Kingston College Chapel Choir to rival the boys’ choirs of the great cathedrals of Europe. This was to help the Jamaican people gain self-confidences; for the society to come to the realization that we as a people are truly capable of excellence measured by world standards.
In its early days the choir sang primarily at chapel services during the week and sometimes on Sundays. Over time it ventured out, singing at church services throughout the country; concerts were also added to its itinerary. Overseas tours started in the 1980s. The choir has to date toured the Cayman Islands, New York, Miami and Washington D.C. In 2012 the choir was invited to the 73rd Annual Flower Mart held on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. where the organizers honoured Jamaica on its 50th anniversary of independence.
The Kingston College Chapel Choir has increased its visibility over time and today maintains a very busy schedule. Over the past five years the choir has averaged approximately 45 performances per year, these include church services, weddings, funerals and concerts. The highlight of its calendar is the annual Christmas Concert season. Works which have been featured during these concerts include Handel’s Messiah; Vivaldi’s Gloria; Hayden’s Creation; Hayden’s Lord Nelson Mass and Pergolesi’s Magnificat.
Over the years the choir has produced a number of recordings. The first long playing record (LP) was Christmas Carols (1963), followed by Favourite Hymns (1965). The third LP, In Memoriam (1970) was a tribute to Bishop Gibson. Songs for all Seasons (2000) was the choir’s first compact disc (CD). This was followed by the last two CDs – Songs of Praise (2011) and Sing de Chorus (2014). The Kingston College Chapel Choir has made several television appearances; appearing almost annually at Christmas since the mid-2000s; some appearances being hour long programmes.
The choir ventured into musical theatre in the 1970s with the opera Amahal and the Night Visitors (1971) and the musical Oliver (1973) with girls from St. Hugh’s High School.
In the 1970s the Kingston College Chapel Choir was elected to the St Nicholas Guild of the Royal School of Church Music, the first Jamaican choir so elected. During this period the choir also recorded Christmas Carols for use by the BBC in its worldwide broadcast.
The Kingston College Chapel Choir in 2009 had an opportunity to sing to a wide international audience when it sang the closing Eucharist of the Anglican Consultative Council held at the Cathedral of St. Jago De la Vega, Spanish Town. Celebrant was the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams; the sermon was preached by the retiring chair of the Consultative Council, the Rt. Rev. John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand.
In December 2010 the Postmaster General issued a $60 dollar stamp which contained the image of the Kingston College Chapel Choir.
The choir which is comprised of present school boys and old boys of the school is currently directed by Audley Davidson. A management committee chaired by Dr. Robert Wan assists the school with the management of the choir.