Cello, choir and canapés

An evening of culture awaited those
fortunate enough to attend the first in a series of three Cayman Arts Festival
events on 30 September. Cello, Canapes and Choir featured cellist Angharad
Parkes, noted pianist Glen Inanga and the debut performance of the Cayman Youth

The event, sponsored by Walkers and
held in The Ritz-Carlton’s Little Cayman Ballroom, attracted around 80
classical music and choral aficionados, who enjoyed a wide selection of canapes
and beverages before being treated to a concert programme that included pieces
by Schumann, Faure, Rachmaninoff, Paganini and Piazzola. The Cayman Youth
Choir, conducted by Dan Twist, gave enjoyable renditions of a traditional folk
song dating from the 1600s and Let’s All Sing Together.

Mr. Inanga, director of music at
the University College of the Cayman Islands and joint art director of the
Cayman Arts Festival, opened the concert by introducing the performers and gave
interesting details of each composer and each piece. He also thanked Walkers as
the multi-event sponsor of the Music on the Menu season for helping to promote
and enrich the arts locally. The law firm’s managing partner, Mark Lewis, a
former member of the Cayman National Choir, also addressed the audience,
setting out the firm’s impressive track record of nurturing the arts in Cayman.
Mr. Inanga also thanked Caymanian Compass for its sponsorship of the Cayman
Arts Festival.


Opening work

The concert opened with Robert
Schumann Fantasy pieces. Originally written for clarinet and piano, the works
are frequently performed by cello and piano. The three movements were
emotionally complex and provided the ideal vehicles to showcase the virtuosity
of Ms Parkes and Mr. Inanga.

Known for his miniatures, where he
combined pieces into a larger work while each movement was self-contained piece
was its own world, Schumann created movements each with its own feel. The first
of the Fantasy pieces, titled Tender and with Expression, began with an
emotional, melancholic air and concluded with resolution and hope; the second,
Lively and Light was robust and confident; while the last piece Quick and with
Fire was passionate and busy, ending with an upbeat and climactic close, which
was echoed in the thunderous applause.

Gabriel Faure’s Papillon, one of
the composer’s most popular pieces, was a frenzied and airy affair, played with
a rapid and deft touch by Ms Parkes accompanied by Mr. Inanga. Mesmerising and
animated, the three-minute composition was evocative of butterflies in flight
and left both the performers and the audience breathless.


Haunting melody

Oh Waly, Waly, sung by the youth
choir, was a haunting melody recently popularised by Enya and Sheryl Crowe. The
choir’s opening song in its first public performance was distinguished by a
sweetness and purity of sound that held the audience. The singers’ second and
final offering — Let’s All Sing Together — accompanied by Elaine Graham on
piano — was a well-executed ensemble piece which showcased the melodic call and
response of two of the choir’s more senior performers.

The third movement of Sergei
Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata was an ambitious piece executed with verve by the
musicians. The piece, known as one of the most challenging concertos in the
standard piano repertoire, was lush and energetic.

Confounding and highly entertaining
best describes the cellist’s performance of Niccolo Paganini’s Variations on
One String on a Theme by Rossini. A master class in thrilling string technique,
the Italian’s composition pushed the boundaries of what a string instrument and
virtuoso musician could do by limiting the entire piece to varied notes from
the A string. Demanding to play and engaging to listen to, the performance was
appreciated by the audience, as was the dexterity of Ms Parkes’ playing.

Closing out the concert, Astor
Piazzola’s Grand Tango — dedicated to the Russian cellist Mstislav
Rostroprovich — vividly evoked the sweeping sensuality and bravado of Argentina’s
national dance. The chamber music was reminiscent of the patriotic pride for
folk dance in Chopin’s Murzurkas.

Cello, Canapes and Choir, a
fundraiser for the newly formed singing group, ended with a strong round of
applause — surely music to the performers’ ears.

The next two performances in Music
on the Menu will be announced shortly.