From opera to pop: Cayman Arts Festival line-up confirmed

Plans are once again under way for the Cayman Arts Festival, scheduled for 8 to 16 February, 2008.

With a packed schedule, and more events than ever in the festival’s three-year history, lovers of the arts have ample to look forward to.

The festival opens on 8 February with a concert by the Cayman National Orchestra and Cayman National Choir, conducted by John McLaughlin Williams, at the First Baptist Church. The Grammy Award-winning American conductor is returning to the festival for the second year.

On 9 February, there will be a chamber music programme, also at First Baptist, performed by members of the Garden Opera’s instrumental group and members of the Duke Quartet.

The Garden Opera is a UK touring opera company who perform in unusual places, with the aim of bringing opera to everyone.

The company will perform in full on 10 February at Pedro’s Castle. The matinee event of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème will also include local school children accompanying.

The 11th will see the festival move to a more unusual venue, nightclub District 6, for a jazz night.

For the first time in the festival’s history, the event line-up will include a concert on Cayman Brac. Tentatively planned for 13 February at the Aston Rutty Centre, String Fever will give Bracers a hearty dose of world-class musical entertainment. The string quartet will also perform on Grand Cayman on the 15th.

The UK based pop a capella group, The Magnets, will close the festival on Saturday, 16 February at First Baptist Church. The sharp-suited six-piece vocals and beats group will bring a fun, up-beat, ending to the week-long festival.


Cayman Arts Festival Artistic Directors Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga have been collaborating since 1994 when they began their studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

This year the critically acclaimed duo, which performed at the last festival, has pulled out all the stops to ensure a bigger and better festival.

‘We are really excited about this year’s festival,’ said Mr. Inanga, who is also currently developing a music programme at UCCI. ‘We have more events lined-up than ever before and the performers we have secured are truly some of the best. This year’s event really offers something for everyone.’

The Cayman Arts Festival was first launched in 2004 as a bi-annual event. However, the festival’s artistic directors have chosen to hold the event annually.

‘For the festival to have any kind of momentum it needs to be an annual event,’ Mr. Inanga explained.

The festival has seen a host of critically acclaimed artists descend on Cayman’s shores, including the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir, jazz artist Roy Ayers and conductor and pianist Wayne Marshall.

While the Cayman Arts Festival aims to bring world-class musicians to Cayman, the festival also has a strong focus on education and fundraising.

The last festival, held in 2006, raised some $20,000 and the festival this year will continue to pump proceeds from the events towards the purchase of a Steinway piano.

‘A Steinway piano is essential for Cayman to be able to attract world-class musicians,’ the acclaimed concert pianist said.

‘We need to raise about $150,000 to purchase one, and of course we also need a concert hall to put it in,’ Mr. Inanga said, stressing the urgency for such a venue.

‘We are still trying to actively encourage people to consider a concert hall. It would definitely revolutionise the type of events held in Cayman and help put Cayman on the international cultural map.’

Visit for further details about the 2008 festival.


The Garden Opera is one event that organisers of the Cayman Arts Festival are hoping will really provide an auditory feast for music lovers of Cayman.

Scheduled for 10 February at Pedro’s Castle, the concert, sponsored by Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited, will see the UK based company perform Puccini’s La bohème.

‘I watched The Garden Opera perform earlier this year in the UK. They are excellent and present in such a fantastic way,’ Glen Inanga said.

The opera company performs in unusual places, usually in gardens.

The festival director hopes the open-air concert will help break down preconceptions the public often have regarding opera.

‘Many people think opera is not for them, that it is elitist. What is so fantastic about The Garden Opera is it breaks down those barriers and is performed in a very informal, comfortable setting.’

The opera will be performed in English, and the six operatic singers, will be accompanied by some 30 local school children.

A typical tale of love and tragedy, the opera will be staged in two, one-hour acts, with a 45 minute interval. During the interval, there will be an opportunity for guests to enjoy local artwork by Cayman Traditional Arts.


The Cayman Arts Festival is holding auditions this Saturday for youngsters aged nine to 14 to sing alongside The Garden Opera, 10 February, at Pedro’s Castle.

Auditions will be held at the UCCI Recital Room, on 168 Olympic Way, and all are asked to attend at 9.45am. Auditions will commence at 10am.

No former singing experience is necessary, and the successful candidates will attend an intensive one-day workshop with The Garden Opera, Saturday, 3 November.

Students auditioning can sing any item and an accompanist will be available. Students are also asked to bring their own music.