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The New Kingstown Chorale is like old wine. The taste gets better with age. It seems now that there can be no real Christmas without the New Kingstown Chorale. Its presentation ‘Good News’ was vintage Chorale. Although some of the old faces or rather voices are still around they have been able to attract some new talent that have blended in beautifully. It is also good to see that they are trying to secure a future for the Chorale by nursing Junior and Senior Choralites that have become a regular part of their presentations.{{more}} Their Saturday night performance was top class. One of the things that stood out was the fact that they have now begun to pay more attention to Choreography. Their Choreographer Maxine Browne did an excellent job that helped to lift the presentation a few notches. The ‘Good News’ presentation was a mix of traditional and not so traditional Christmas songs and carols done in what I will call good old Vincentian and chorale style that aimed and succeeded in putting the audience into the Christmas mood as one was able to sense from the expression on the faces and the general mood of the audience. The professionalism of the group as usual stood out. The show started on time and flowed smoothly. The Chorale takes its business seriously and realises that they are there to entertain those who come to their shows. They get wrapped up in their shows and obviously enjoy what they are doing while being ably led by Conductor Jeanne Horne. They naturally put a lot of emphasis in preparing for their shows as they try to make each show better than the one before. So regardless of how many times you have seen the Chorale you go back expecting to see something better and they hardly ever disappoint. They were also able to attract the evergreen Syl McIntosh as a guest artiste and Syl was his usual style putting on one of his stellar performances. This country must justly be proud of the Chorale as it demonstrates not only the talent that the country has but what can be achieved by hard work, commitment and discipline. The New Kingstown Chorale long predated independence but had a new burst of energy that came with the birth of Independence. The New Kingstown Chorale is in fact a product of the new cultural thrust that came with Independence. With the new talent emerging the New Kingstown Chorale is likely to have a long life.

The Christian Council Speaks

The Christian Council’s Christmas Message speaks of the Joy and Conflict with which Christmas is associated. “I am bringing you Good News of Great Joy for all the people” is the Angelic Message to the Shepherds in Luke.” The point is made that while Christmas brings joy, the world creates conflict. The Christmas Season, it notes, ‘has become for many solely a time of joy and celebration’. The reality is that for many, Christmas has taken on a life of its own. Joy is not only tied in with the commercialisation of Christmas but commercialisation is what Christmas has become. Inevitably every year the media asks the same question to the business community- “What are sales like?” Their answer is used to evaluate the season of Christmas. This way of thinking seems to suggest that once business is good there is joy and Christmas is grand.

The Christmas message, too, we are told calls us to face conflict and make a commitment toward its peaceful resolution. Christmas also calls for transforming the world in order “to promote peace and goodwill and to appropriate kingdom values.” With all of this there are challenges that we must face by being conscious of God’s presence and supremacy over us. The message of Christmas is not limited to Christmas but is a recipe for life. Joy, conflict, transformation and the acknowledgement that there is one superior to us is what I take from the Christian Council’s message. St.Vincent and the Grenadines would be a better place if many of us acknowledge where real power comes from and at this time truly reflect on the meaning of Christmas in preparation for the New Year. So, perhaps, Christmas should become an ‘advent’ as we prepare for a new year and a new life.

Continuing the Conversation in 2009

This being my last column before Christmas I want to use the opportunity to thank and to wish a merry Christmas to those who read my columns during the year and particularly those who have seen it fit to phone me or to meet and speak to me about issues raised in those columns. When we write newspaper columns we are often not sure who are our readers so when someone comments on or speaks to you about a piece you have written, you begin to develop a profile of your readers except that quite often they are of a mixed bag with whom you find a common bond. I write about issues as I see them and try to target the common Joe. I write to put forward a particular point of view that is my own. I do not claim omniscience but write about a variety of issues that catch my fancy, often trying to start a conversation. Often I am confronted with a heavy work load and have to juggle the time to be able write a regular column. It is sometimes not possible but I try to meet this commitment weekly. 2009 is likely to be a challenging year and many issues will arise that demand comment. We should not shy away from comment once we are honest to ourselves with our opinions. The Christmas message, we are told, “does not call us to piously evade conflict…” Maybe the word ‘pious’ is itself limiting. In any event I look forward to continue the conversation for 2009. What you will have is my viewpoint. There will be others, but that is what a conversation is all about.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.