Tuesday: ACME at the Brac
The ongoing Festival of the Arts
paid a visit to Cayman Brac’s Aston Rutty Centre on 10 February, featuring the
one-man comedy show of Ranier Hersch.
“The show deals with a series of
questions about orchestras, classical music and those troublesome blobs on a
musical manuscript. Both the adult and the kids’ version come from the same
concept,” said the musician/comedian.
“The premise is that nobody knows
anything about music, nor do they have to which is the point. It’s just us
messing around and having a laugh, really,” he remarked.
“There’s a screen onstage with
funny images, the piano’s there onstage and the instruments are played so it’s
“I play a vacuum cleaner and stuff
like that,” he said.
The performer added that there are
significant reasons that artists are drawn to Cayman Arts Festival and other
events like it.
“I’ve heard of people’s enthusiasm
for the festival, which I’m really looking forward to. Festivals in smaller
places can be really fun for the artist because the audiences really get into
it more. The artist feels a lot more welcome so I’m really looking forward to
Michael and Susan Hundt of the
Brac, who helped with the event, say they were quite impressed with the show
and Mr. Hersch’s uncanny ability to improvise and use the most mundane of
objects in absolutely captivating ways.
“It was just awesome to have that
kind of world class entertainment on the Brac. We were extremely pleased with
the presentation, as well as the turnout,” said the couple.
According to the Caymanian Compass’
correspondent on the Brac Ed Beaty, this year’s show had an average turnout in
comparison with other Festival of the Arts to have visited Cayman Brac in the
Mr. Beaty added that it was great
to see the festive spirit that the performance brought along and hailed Mr.
Hersch as a seasoned performer, who could rivet even the staunchest of festival
Friday: ACME at First Baptist
Rainer Hersch has been, in his
time, the manager of classical musicians and a successful performer. Those two
jobs cover a multitude of sins and silliness – so the move to performing as a
musician and comedian was an obvious next step.
From the moment Hersch bounded
onstage at First Baptist Church, a ball of poodle-haired energy and twinkle-eyed
mischief, it was obvious that this was going to be a fun evening.
Multi-instrumentalist Hersch has a
real way with ironic humour that allows him to get away with some really cheeky
moments in a show called All Classical Music Explained, or ACME for short.
”I’m half English and half German – which means I’d like to take over the
world, but I’m too polite to do it,” he said, before launching into a monologue
which took in his recent stay on the Brac, hurricane preparedness and the
various characters he’s encountered since arriving on Island.
During his set, images and text
flashed up on the big screen behind him. Memorably, music was distilled into
the fact that lots of notes on a stave was ‘hard’. The audience got it,
immediately, including a noisy and fun-loving contingent from the Jamaican
Immaculate Conception High School Orchestra, in attendance because of their
imminent performance at Saturday’s finale.
The oft-raucous response to
Hersch’s humour spurred him on to further heights; a memorable sequence saw him
playing the piano ‘automatically’ with a series of self-made wooden gizmos. As
a demystifying tool, it was perfect.
The most satisfying aspect of ACME
is that it completely breaks down any possibility that classical music be seen
as elitist or unattainable. The show itself is constructed to take in universal
experiences such as learning the recorder, misheard opera libretto lyrics and
the way that classical composers ‘stole most of their best tunes from Abba.’
In doing so, quite complex
statements about the satisfying tension and resolution of music were put across
without anyone noticing.
Melody and expectation lead to
satisfaction (or satisfying shocks), whether it’s a hitherto relatively-unknown
theme by a Romantic Russian composer or the familiar chords of YMCA, the
elements that go together to make music popular are essentially the same. In a
sense, then, the title of the performance was absolutely spot on.
As the evening rolled on, Hersch
regularly baited Andrew Lloyd-Webber, tackled opera and demonstrated through a
series of figures that opera’s body count was inordinately high. Verdi, with 60
per cent, was worst offender. It’s doubtful whether many other classical
musicians have been moved to make an ‘I’m-just-saying’ type reference to Saddam
Hussein in this context.
The finale was a piece by Lizst,
played beautifully by the talented pianist aside from recordings of coughing,
crying babies, mobile phones and other familiar concert-hall irritants; cutesy
pictures of cats and dogs flashed onscreen as the arrangement turned into a
slab of English, end-of-pier organ cheesiness.
The voiciferous response from the
crowd was testament to the success of the evening – certainly one of the
highlights of Arts Fest 2010.
The grand finale of this year’s
festival on Saturday night was a collaborative effort.
The 50-strong Immaculate Conception
High School orchestra, over from Jamaica, were boosted by 25 hand-picked
players from a variety of Cayman schools, mostly playing woodwind and brass.
Co-director of the festival, Glen
Inanga, spoke of the positive aspects of live performance and the importance of
such in the development of young musicians. It was a chance, he said, to celebrate
the talent of young people. The Jamaican orchestra had only been on-island
since Wednesday, meaning that conductor Steven Woodham and the musicians
performed wonders in bringing the pieces together.
After the national song was sung by
a small, close-harmony ensemble it kicked off properly with a series of
familiar and newly-presented pieces.
Each piece was explained to the
audience before the orchestra tackled it, whether a concerto by Vivaldi
performed by a chamber group or a full-orchestra rendition of Nessun Dorma.
The first half was notable for an
astonishing solo spot by ultra-talented nine-year old violin virtuoso Ellinor
D’Melon Moraguez. It was so good, in fact, that the audience was moved to start
applauding halfway through her performance of Fritz Weber’s Prelude and
Allegro. When Ellinor subsequently launched into the fast section, the crowd
soared with the focussed youngster, whose skill on her instrument at such a
young age is a gift to her and to the world.
Robert W. Smith’s expressive The
Tempest gave the assembled youngsters the opportunity to represent the fury and
rage of a storm by clicking their fingers, stamping their feet and using the
stage and themselves as percussion as they introduced it. After an apt theme
from Pirates of the Caribbean, the orchestra was further boosted by the Cayman
Arts Chorus – a choir of around 30.
This extended collaboration rounded
things of suitably rousingly through Handel’s Hallelujah and an arrangement of
O Praise Ye The Lord.
After the music, conductor Steven
Woodham gave out presents to some of the team who had been involved in putting
the events together.
He spoke about the talent of the
Caribbean and the need to develop it for the outside world, but also for the
region itself. It was a cogent point on which to end a very successful evening
that attracted the biggest audience of Cayman Arts Festival 2010 by a
The festival took in comedy,
collaboration, eight-handed pianos, Broadway themes and a good dollop of young
local talent. It proved that Cayman may not even register as a tiny speck on
some people’s maps, but it can be proud of its commitment to supporting and
promoting music and the arts with some world-class performances.
That it took place at the tail end
of a serious worldwide recession is only further kudos to those with the vision
and determination to succeed.
Sponsors: Event Sponsors
Butterfield; Caymanian Compass;
Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Ltd;
Ministry of Education, Training & Employment; Ministry of Health,
Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture; Ogier
Sponsors: Diamond Sponsors
BB&P Advertising; dms
Broadcasting Ltd ; In memory of Augustus Randolph – from the Randolph family;
Sponsors: Platinum Sponsors
Caledonian Bank; Stepping Stones;
Sponsors: Gold Sponsors
Cayman National; Close Brothers; Comfort Suites;
Deloitte; First Caribbean International
Bank; Maples and Calder; Scotiabank
Sponsors: Silver Sponsors
Campbells; Dragon Bay; Ernst &
Young; Kensington Management Group Ltd; Rawlinson & Hunter
(2010 EVENTS AT A GLANCE)
Event: Broadway Comes To Cayman
There were selections from shows including
West Side Story, Candide, Peter Pan and more. Wayne Marshall and Kim Criswell
entertained with singing and chat.
Broadway Comes To Cayman was
sponsored by Caymanian Compass.
Event: 2+2 = 8
Wayne Marshall and John McLaughlin
Williams joined the incredible talents of duo joined by Wayne Marshall and John
McLaughlin Williams on a four-handed piece for two pianos plus Carnival of the
Animals with narrator Rita Estevanovich.
Sponsors for 2+2=8 were Ogier.
Event: Rising Stars
The Rising Stars concert featured
Butterfield Young Musicians of the Year 2008 and 2009 plus finalists from the
last two associated National Children’s Festival of the Arts.
Rising Stars was sponsored by
Ministry of Education, Training & Employment; Ministry of Health,
Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture.
Event: Rainer Hirsch in ACME
Rainer Hersch took to the piano to
answer questions like: ‘Why is organ music so boring?’; ‘How can I play a
musical instrument without practising?’; ‘What do conductors actually do?’.
ACME was sponsored by Deutsche
Event: youth2youth: A Caribbean
Immaculate Conception High School
Orchestra is one of the largest and most talented ensembles in Jamaica. 65
youngsters collaborated with their Caymanian counterparts and singers.
Butterfield sponsored Youth2Youth.