Young Jamaica Ensemble of Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College
The Young Jamaica Ensemble of Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College was founded in 1978 with a total of 23 students. Today the award-winning ensemble has grown to almost 70 members including students and community members, one of the largest in Jamaica. This Ensemble, considered one of the college’s community outreach programmes, is widely regarded as one of the top concert bands in Jamaica for its elaborate performances and award-winning streak.
Under the baton of Mr. Vinton Haughton, the Ensemble is a regular feature in the cultural landscape of Western Jamaica performing for civic events in St. James and other parishes and regularly in resorts on Jamaica’s West and North Coast such as Sandals & Beaches Resorts, RIU Hotels, Hedonism and Couples Resorts in Negril.
Notable performances of the band include performing for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Golden Jubilee visit to Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1998 and the CARICOM/G15 Heads of Governments Summit in 1997. In December 2010, the group was a feature in the Northern Caribbean University’s Feast of Lights held at King’s House and performed alongside the New England Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Virginia Rittenhouse. It was awarded the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) trophy for the Most Outstanding Instrumental Ensemble 2011-2019 staging of the National Festival of the Performing Arts – Music. The Ensemble is also a regular featured participant in the Western Jamaica International Music Festival (WJIMF) held annually. In May 2012, the ensemble was able to host the award-winning Smoky Mountains Brass Quintet, an ensemble in residence at Western Carolina University in the United States and later in 2013, the Lynn University Brass Ensemble in partnership with the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica.
The group’s repertoire includes music from a wide range of genre, from Classical/Semi-classical arrangements for Concert Band to Jazz, Songs from Movies, Folk, Multicultural, Pop, Spiritual Sacred and Reggae/Dancehall arrangements.
The ensemble hosts an annual Sounds of the Season along with local stakeholders and sponsors, showcasing the yearlong musical repertoire of the ensemble. Since 2018, the ensemble has partnered with the Sweetwater Blossom Foundation to implement the Western Jamaica Community Music Initiative and will launch the first of its kind, Symphonic Orchestra in 2020.