Hopefuls vie for Young Musician of the Year

At least eight finalists will compete to be selected as the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year on May 7 at the Prospect Playhouse. 

Students in the competition, open to those ages 18 and younger, will showcase their talents in piano, voice, violin, clarinet, euphonium, guitar and steel pan.  

After auditioning at various schools across Cayman over the last month, the finalists were chosen from a wide cross-section of instruments, with selection based on their performances in the National Children’s Festival of the Arts elimination round. 

Another musician or two will be added following the Amin Mohammed Memorial Steel Band competition, held this week at the Mary Miller Hall, when steel pan soloists competed for a finalist spot. (Weekender went to press before the results.) 

On the evening of the Young Musician of the Year competition, one exceptional performer will win the honor and a cash prize of $500. First- and second-runners-up will be awarded cash prizes of $300 and $150, respectively.  

Change in judges 

While concert pianist Glen Inanga, director of music at the University College of the Cayman Islands, is usually a judge, this year he will be focusing his time accompanying finalists on the piano as he feels he will be able to add more value to the performance in this role. 

“I am looking forward to yet another excellent showcase of talent from our rising stars who have distinguished themselves to reach this stage of the competition,” he said. “This year I have decided to step away from my role as an adjudicator to be able to work with the finalists and support them as piano accompanist. I look forward to working with as many of them as possible,” he said. 

Grammy award-winning conductor and violinist John McLaughlin Williams (awarded for his recording of Olivier Messaien’s “Oiseaux exotiques (Exotic birds)” for piano and small orchestra, with pianist Angelin Chang), will again judge the competition as he has for the past few years. 

Two other judges are Stephanie Williams, who was responsible for establishing a strong foundation for music education in the Cayman Islands during her post as Cayman Island’s education officer for music and cultural development until she retired in 2007; and Dr. Catherine Rand, director of bands and an associate professor at the School of Music at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Rand is also a member of the Creative Music Project in the Cayman Islands, helping to promote student-based musical creativity through improvisation and composition activities using technology-based methodology.  


The competition, which began in 2008, was the brainchild of Frances McConvey, former head of music at George Hicks High School (now Clifton Hunter High School), who started it in order to provide a suitable vehicle for students who wanted to excel and be distinguished beyond receiving gold, silver or bronze for their musical performances at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts.  

Past winners have gone one to pursue careers in music, while others have carried on with their music development overseas at their respective universities.  


Guidelines for the finalist competition are stringent. Judges will be looking for technical competency as well as musical performance and risk-taking, where the musician shows true star quality.  

Contestants are required to perform two contrasting solo works for 10 minutes, with one of the works required to be from the classical music genre. Additionally, sponsor Butterfield Bank requests that all finalists prepare a written program to introduce themselves and give detailed information about the two pieces they will perform.  

The competition is at 6:30 p.m., May 7 at Prospect Playhouse. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets at the door, $5 for adults; $2 for children. 

Finalists, as of press timeAmy Gillies (piano) Cayman Prep and High School/Nicole Bodden’s Studio Chyna Rose Bennett (clarinet) Cayman Prep and High School Nayil Arana (violin) Cayman Music School Miriam Foster (guitar) Layman E Scott High School David Brown (voice) Triple C SchoolJaci Mascarenhas (voice) Triple C SchoolDuncan Anderson (euphonium) UCCI Deidra Campbell (clarinet) UCCI 

The judges, finalists, sponsors, and National Children’s Art Festival organizers and representatives at last year’s Butterfield Young Musician of the Year competition.


Steel pan player Ethan Whittaker was the winner of the 2014 Butterfield Young Musicaian of the Year award.


There were smiles all round last year from the top three performers of the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year. From left, Michael McWatt of sponsor Butterfield Bank, second-place winner Chaquira Hodgson, winner Ethan Whittaker, third-place winner Elena Tacchetto, and Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler.