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On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, the Alpha School of Music (ASOM) welcomed Caribbean band leaders Dr. Nicholas Brancker from Barbados and Etienne Charles from Trinidad along with Alpha band director Peter Ashbourne and Alpha guitar instructor Omar Francis for the inaugural Sister Ignatius Lecture. Named after Sister Mary Ignatius Davies, the longtime manager of the Alpha Boys Band and a major influence on many of Jamaica’s most accomplished musicians, “Banding Together: Ensemble Music in the Caribbean” explored the past, present and future contributions of band music and band education.

The issues raised during the Sister Ignatius lecture are of importance because the music ecosystem across the Caribbean region "has been shaped by the same socio-historical factors," stated Gay Magnus, Alpha's director of music and lecture moderator. In addition to being a distinctly Caribbean way to express oneself, panelists noted how instrumental music and a band ecosystem contribute to the Caribbean economy, culture, and identity. These links also create opportunities. The growth of tourism locally is helping to drive employment, for example, while a shared interest in music training is strengthening regional partnerships and the sharing of resources among band stakeholders in education, business, and the creative arts.

The enthusiastic response from the audience and the next steps being discussed by stakeholders confirmed that band music is still one of the most powerful tools in the Caribbean for exploring, celebrating, and expressing who we are as individuals and communities. Thanks to the discussion at Alpha, the way forward is even more clear and we look forward to continuing the conversation, creating new platforms for music education and performance as well as helping the next generation of musicians develop new ones.

Following the panel discussion, on Thursday, May 25, 2023, Etienne Charles and Dr. Nicholas Brancker linked up again with local musicians at The Jam Is Back, Kingston’s signature live music event, held at 22 Jerk on Barbican Road.

Check out the snapshots below to get a sense of the energy and vibe during The Jam is Back.

The Alpha School of Music thanks the American Friends of Jamaica, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Jamaica Tourist Board, Spanish Court Hotel and Jamaica Nice for making the event possible.


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