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The Alpha School of Music is pleased to present the Inaugural Sister Ignatius Lecture and Jam Session featuring local and international band leaders from across the Caribbean.

On Wednesday May 24th, critically acclaimed Trinidadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles, and bassist Nicholas Brancker, from Barbados, will join local band leaders Peter Ashbourne and Omar Francis for a comprehensive discussion about the state of band performance and education in Jamaica, across the region and around the world. The event is open to the public and a unique platform to learn about the future of band music in the Caribbean and its implications for business, education and entertainment. Following the panel discussion, on Thursday, May 25, Mr Charles and Mr Brancker will link up again with their local counterparts at The Jam Is Back (click for details), Kingston’s signature live music event, held at 22 Jerk on Barbican Road. There is no charge to enter the panel discussion or the jam session.

As the manager of the Alpha Boys Band from the 1940s into the 21st century, Sister Mary Ignatius Davies (1921-2003), is a symbol of Jamaica’s music culture, a culture defined by band performance. Many of Sister Ignatius' students changed the direction of jazz and Jamaican popular music as members of bands like the Skatalites, Zap Pow, the Wailers and Black Disciples. Today, the Alpha School of Music is Jamaica's only tertiary institution focused on ensemble, or band, performance.

For decades, band performance has been the way that music was taught, performed and experienced in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. However, access to band music and band education is increasingly hard to find for many people. The panelists featured in the inaugural Sister Ignatius lecture can speak personally and passionately about the impact of band in their Caribbean communities as well as in front of thousands of people on stages around the world.

Peter Ashbourne is one of Jamaica’s leading contemporary composers, arrangers and song- writers, as well as an outstanding performer on violin and piano, band leader and record producer, whose achievements in the fields of classical music, jazz, and popular forms have greatly assisted the advancement of ​musical excellence in Jamaica.​

Etienne Charles, a trumpet-playing big band leader hailed by The New York Times as "an auteur" and by Jazz Times as a "daring improviser who delivers with heart- wrenching lyricism", brings a study of rhythms from the French, Spanish, English, and the Dutch-speaking Caribbean to his compositions. As an educator and conductor, he has done residencies at the Juilliard School, Stanford University, Columbia College Chicago and the US Military Academy, to name a few. His dedication to the preservation of artistic traditions in his homeland inspired him to create Brass Mas, a road-ready Carnival band experience.

Guitarist Omar Francis is an educator and band leader at the forefront of live music in Kingston where he has been part of the organizing team of The Jam Is Back live music series since its inception. As a member of Rootz Undergound, Francis helped to usher in a renewed interest in, and appreciation for, band performance in Jamaica.

Dr. Nicholas Brancker, is a Grammy-nominated producer and musician from Barbados where he has been a staunch advocate for youth music education, ensemble performance and a civil society “conversation" through music. Music weaves together "the fabric of Barbadian society," he said, and "we need to be able to make sure that the music which we produce every year still has legacy benefits as time passes." In 2021, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by The University of the West Indies in 2021 for his contributions to the arts.

ABOUT ALPHA INSTITUTE/Alpha School of music

Alpha's 130-year tradition of music education has produced jazz innovators, ska pioneers and reggae icons. We are excited to offer a meaningful and innovative music training curriculum to youth today. We need your help to make it possible. Thank you!

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