Countdown begins to Cayman Arts Festival

The two year wait is almost over, as the third bi-annual Cayman Arts Festival kicks-off next month.

And, once again, the festival brings a stellar line-up of internationally renowned musicians to Cayman’s shores.

This year’s festival – scheduled to run from 8 to 16 February – includes Grammy award winning conductor John McLaughlin-Williams, the UK touring opera company Garden Opera, critically renowned string quartet, String Fever, and the sharp-suited pop a capella group, The Magnets.

In addition, local musicians will have an opportunity to shine, including the Gary Ebanks Quartet, Cool School, Mainstream and Triple Play. The Cayman National Choir and Cayman National Orchestra will also take to the stage for the opening date.

‘We truly are excited about this year’s festival,’ artistic director, Glen Inaga, said. ‘We have some fantastic, creative, performers lined-up which will give a fresh feel to this year’s event.’

The Garden Opera promises to be one of the highlights of the festival, performing at an open-air concert at Pedro’s Castle on 10 February.

‘We are particularly excited about the Garden 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 festival features seven concerts, including one of which is on Cayman Brac.

‘When we first launched the festival in 2004, it was a festival for all three islands,’ Mr. Inanga said. ‘Sadly, the first festival was somewhat of an experiment and we decided to keep it just on Grand Cayman. The 2006 festival we had planned to take the Harlem Gospel Choir over to the Brac, but at the last minute ran into difficulties.

‘This year, with the lessons learnt from 2006, we now know what will work on the Brac. String Fever is a perfect fit, and will give Brackers a good flavour of what the festival is all about. The group captures the essence of the festival; they are fresh, innovative and creative,’ he commented.

The festival, aims to bring world-class musicians to Cayman. Past performers have included the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir, jazz artist Roy Ayers and conductor and pianist Wayne Marshall.

One of its primary aims is education. Following the same fashion as the last festival, The Magnets and The Garden Opera will be holding separate concerts for local schoolchildren. In addition, the Garden Opera will be going out to Cayman’s schools to hold master classes. Local schoolchildren will also be performing alongside the Garden Opera at their event at Pedro’s Castle.

Lastly, the festival serves as a fundraising tool. Festival artistic directors – Glen Inanga and Jennifer Micallef – are pooling funds raised from each festival to purchase a Steinway piano, necessary, they say, if Cayman wishes to be able to attract world-class musicians.

The 2006 festival raised some $20,000. This year, festival directors are optimistic of exceeding this amount.

‘It would be great if we could exceed last year’s amount,’ Mr. Inanga said.

He added: ‘We really have to thank our sponsors – Cayman Free Press, Butterfield Bank, Deloitte, Appleby, Walkers and UBS for example. Our sponsors enable us to put such events on, and make ticket prices affordable.’

To cater to demand, the festival will now become an annual event and, it is hoped, will continue to flourish.

‘For the festival to have any real momentum it really needs to be an annual event,’ the artistic director said.

‘By holding it yearly, we hope to give the festival more opportunity to grow and strengthen.’

Commenting on this year’s festival, Mr. Inanga said it promises to be one of the best yet.

‘We are really excited about this year’s festival. We have more events lined-up than ever before and the performers we have secured are truly some of the best.’

EVENT SCHEDULE

(All concerts are at the First Baptist Church, unless indicated).

8 February

Cayman National Orchestra, Cayman National Choir and visiting orchestra players from orchestras in Cleveland. Conducted by John McLaughlin Williams, 8pm.

9 February

Chamber Music Programme, featuring Garden Opera’s instrumental group and members of the Duke Quartet.

10 February

Garden Opera at Pedro’s Castle.

11 February

Jazz night at District 6, featuring local musicians Gary Ebanks Quartet, Cool School, Mainstream and Triple Play.

14 February

String Fever, Aston Rutty Centre, Cayman Brac.

15 February

String Fever.

16 February

The Magnets.

TICKETS

Tickets are available from around 25 January at Funky Tangs, Micromatrix, Foster’s Food Fair, the Camera Store and Villas at the Galleon.

FYI

Visit www.caymanartsfestival.com for further details.

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