Musical excellence on display in John Thomas’ Reflections

John Thomas and Alyssa Joseph sing The Prayer at the Reflections concert. - ANDREA DE SILVA
John Thomas and Alyssa Joseph sing The Prayer at the Reflections concert. - ANDREA DE SILVA

John Thomas’ concert Reflections was simply a display of musical excellence.

Staged on Sunday at Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, Port of Spain, the event celebrated Thomas’ 20th year as a classical singer, music teacher, choir director and concert producer.

In a pre-show media release, Thomas said the concert gave him the opportunity to say thanks to his audience “for allowing me to manifest all the parts of myself on stage for all these years.”

On offer was fare that included classical, religious, musical theatre and calypso songs.

John Thomas’ concert Reflections was a display of musical excellence. - ANDREA DE SILVA

On a beautifully-designed set and backed by a live orchestra, Thomas opened the show with the popular patriotic song God Bless Our Nation. He was accompanied by siblings Johanna Chuckaree on piano and Johann Chuckaree on pan.

He invited young singer Alyssa Joseph onstage to sing The Prayer with him. Appearing a little nervous initially, Joseph eventually settled into the performance with reassuring squeezes of her hand from Thomas.

After singing Thankful, Thomas invited his Eastern Chorale members to join him in singing Baba Yetu, which featured Mahalia Pierre.

The choir was on display next and gave a hair-raising, balanced rendition of I Believe/Ave Maria.

Marlon De Bique and John Thomas in a duet. - Andrea De Silva

However, the first standing ovation for the evening came when Thomas was joined by tenors Edward Cumberbatch and Marlon De Bique to sing Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. The packed audience was enthralled and gave a rousing round of applause at the song’s crescendo.

If there was one criticism to be made, it would be the length of a video presentation played at what, naturally, might have been the show’s half-time. It was a wonderful idea to have a few of Thomas’ friends speak about his contribution to the musical landscape, but one sensed a slight restlessness in the audience as the video neared the ten-minute mark.

Also of concern was the fact that there was no intermission, a measure which, understandably, was put in place under covid19 guidelines to minimise mingling in the lobby. But there were many people for whom a bathroom break would have been welcome.

Another highlight of the show, which resumed right after the video, was Thomas’ version of Lord Kitchener’s Symphony in G.

Accompanied by Johanna Chuckaree, Thomas’ showmanship was on full display as he took on the operatic-style arrangement, personifying the composer, who was working on creating a symphony for the pan. The audience was overtly appreciative and demonstrated this at the end of the performance.

Mahalia Pierre sang Baba Yetu with John Thomas at Reflections, Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s on April 27. - ANDREA DE SILVA

Andre Tanker’s Morena Osha, featuring Johann Chuckaree and dancer Karline Brathwaite, was also well received.

Particularly heartwarming was the beautifully-arranged, stripped-down, almost mournful, rendition of Believe by Cher.

De Bique joined Thomas once again to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water ­– a masterpiece of a performance.

Soprano Clarice Beeput held her own against her mentor John Thomas at the Reflections concert. - ANDREA DE SILVA

Special mention must be made of young soprano Clarice Beeput, whom Thomas describes as one of his prodigies. What an amazing, controlled voice – one we need to hear more of. Beeput sang Ave Maria Pietas and Con Te Partiro with Thomas and held her own against her very experienced mentor. Another commendable performance came from Leandra Head singing All I Ask of You with Thomas.

Thomas’ final song for the evening was the very apt My Way by Frank Sinatra, making way for the audience to chip out of the auditorium to Kitchener’s Pan in A Minor.


"Musical excellence on display in John Thomas’ Reflections"

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