Final course of the season for ‘Music on the Menu’

The Cayman Arts Festival’s much-anticipated chamber music concert series “Music on the Menu” is back for its final presentation of the 2013/2014 season, with the theme “Baroque Meets Broadway.”  

The concert on May 29 at Luca restaurant will feature singer Arek Nicholson and pianist Nicole Bodden – the first “homegrown” talent to be featured in the series, according to Glen Inanga, the festival’s artistic director.  

“Arek Nicholson and Nicole Bodden are very talented and dedicated musicians whom I look forward to hearing perform,” he said. “We thank them for accepting our invitation to perform in this final concert of the series for the season.” The Cambridge-educated Inanga, who also studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, is an international concert pianist who has performed at Lincoln Center in New York, and is one-half of the award-winning piano partnership with Jennifer Micallef.  

Inanga will introduce the musicians and will also perform. “‘Baroque Meets Broadway’ is a reflection of the range of genres in the program from works by Bach [Baroque] to Broadway hits. I will be playing a short piano duet by [Claude] Debussy with Nicole [Bodden],” he said.  

For those not familiar with the Baroque era, it was a time between 1600 and 1750 when music, art and architecture flourished in Europe. Music of this period was decorated and embellished with small accenting notes and melodic runs; well-known composers of the era included Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi.  

“The repertoire for this concert is a mixture of sacred, secular songs and contemporary pieces sung in Italian, English and German, including favorite baritone and bass arias from Handel’s “The Messiah,” Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” (“The Magic Flute”), Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil’s “Les Miserables,” and other large and small works, with a palate-cleansing piano duet by Glen and Nicole,” says Nicholson. “This concert is sure to delight our audience as they will get the opportunity to enjoy a bit of classical and contemporary music to quell their appetites before their gourmet dinner.” 

Bodden was introduced to music at an early age, having grown up in a musical family. Her early years of music education began at home in West Bay with her mother as her first piano teacher. Her gift of music was further developed at Wesleyan Christian Academy during her teen years under the tutelage of instructors Ronna Craig and DeWayne Joslin. She traveled to the U.S. for several competitions during this time, both as a soloist and as part of an ensemble, winning numerous awards. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Houghton College in New York and returned to Cayman in 2004 to begin her career as a music teacher at John Gray High School. Later, she joined the family business at Barnett Music Centre, and then taught private music lessons in 2009.  

Currently, she owns and operates Nicole Bodden’s Studio, where she enjoys teaching her students the language of music.  

Nicholson, who is also from West Bay, began studying music at age 12 under the direction of Mike Galvin and Fran McConvey, and later, Lorna Bjorklund.  

He has performed in choirs for much of his life, and completed the Performer’s Certificate on Saxophone from the Trinity College of London in 2004. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, where he honed his high baritone bass voice. He participated in numerous choral and instrumental ensembles in Canada and was soloist in university choral ensembles. Currently, he teaches music at John Gray High School and recently completed a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Cardiff, Wales. He directed the Cayman Youth Choir from April 2011 to June 2012 and has been a long-standing member of the Cayman National Choir. 

Origins of the festival  

The Cayman Arts Festival concept began when Inanga and Micallef were invited to play in Grand Cayman. The performance was so well received that they decided to make it a regular event.  

The first festival took place in 2004 and it has now evolved to become an influential performing arts event that brings world-class talent across many genres to Cayman.  

“Music on the Menu,” in particular, has grown to be such a popular fundraising event that it is consistently sold out. Proceeds go toward the Cayman Youth Choir, and the event also brings awareness to the islands’ thriving musical and performing arts scene throughout the year.  

Inanga says the concert series has included a cross-section of musicians and instruments over the years, including piano solos and duets, voice (sopranos and a countertenor), trumpets, violins, violas, cellos, and trios (clarinet, cello, oboe). There have been 11 concerts since the series began, and so far, Inanga has performed in all but one. Notably, all of the performers donate their time.  

“Music on the Menu” will begin with welcome drinks and canapés at 6:30 p.m., seated dinner and concert from 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100; tables of 6-10 people can be reserved in advance. For more information or to reserve tickets, email [email protected] 

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