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  • Internationally renowned Jamaican opera singer, Sir Willard White, is the recipient of the National Chorale of Jamaica Medal of Excellence.
  • Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, made the presentation during a ceremony held today (August 11) at King’s House.
  • The Medal of Excellence, which is awarded every two years, is conferred upon a musician or other performing artist or individual engaged in the area of music, and is in recognition of outstanding achievements and significant contribution to the arts in Jamaica and internationally.

Internationally renowned Jamaican opera singer, Sir Willard White, is the recipient of the National Chorale of Jamaica Medal of Excellence.

Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, made the presentation during a ceremony held today (August 11) at King’s House.

The Medal of Excellence, which is awarded every two years, is conferred upon a musician or other performing artist or individual engaged in the area of music, and is in recognition of outstanding achievements and significant contribution to the arts in Jamaica and internationally.

Chairman of the Management Committee for the National Chorale of Jamaica, Hernal Hamilton, in delivering the Citation, said the bass singer has been a “musical ambassador” for the island during his illustrious career, which spans 40 years.

“As Jamaica celebrates its 53rd year of Independence, we also celebrate the achievements of a wonderful person and a proud Jamaican. A Jamaican of whom we are very proud and to whom we say ‘thank you,’ ” he said.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Sir Willard commenced formal musical training at the Jamaica School of Music and continued his studies at The Julliard School in New York where he received several scholarships during his studies at the conservatory.

Since his operatic debut with the New York City Opera in 1974, Sir Willard has performed in concert halls throughout the world, including the Covent Garden and Royal Opera in England; the Metropolitan Opera in New York as well as opera houses in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Munich, Germany; Paris, France and Madrid in Spain.

In recognition of his extraordinary contribution to classical music, Sir Willard has received several awards during his career.

 

In 1995, he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and the Gold Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica. He was presented with the Order of Merit in 2000 by the Government of Jamaica. Sir Willard was knighted in 2004 in the Birthday Honours of Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Willard, in expressing gratitude,  said that he felt “great pleasure” in accepting the award.

“I connect with the Jamaican Motto ‘Out of Many, One People’, because many times I am the one; the one Jamaican, the one black person, who has to stand there and I have had many opportunities that I could scream and shout and rant and rave ‘dare you not call me that which you think I am’.

“But I stand there knowing that no one else can stand where I stand and so it is with a feeling of deep pride and honour that I accept this award. Thank you very much for this wonderful experience,” he said.

The National Chorale of Jamaica, under the patronage of the Governor General, will be presenting the 1846 composition of Mendelsshon’s “Elijah” during the month of August. Sir Willard will be performing with the Chorale in the lead as Elijah.