Here’s what’s happening at Cayman Arts Festival 2016

Mokhtar Samba comes alive behind the drums.

Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra will be among the top-rate performers at this year’s Cayman Arts Festival, from Feb. 17–26 at various locations across the island.

This year features a number of highlighted performances on the schedule, along with a collection of fringe events.

Soloists from the London Philharmonic Orchestra are at the First Baptist Church on opening night, Feb. 18.
Soloists from the London Philharmonic Orchestra are at the First Baptist Church on opening night, Feb. 18.

Feb. 18
First Baptist Church
7:30 p.M.

Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing at the First Baptist Church on Feb. 18. One of the world’s finest orchestras, it has a long and distinguished history, and will definitely be one of the most sought-after tickets of the Cayman Arts Festival.

The orchestra’s musicians are among the best from across the world and represent more than 14 nationalities.

Many players hold professorships at the U.K.’s music colleges and conservatories, and perform as acclaimed chamber musicians and soloists alongside their orchestral careers.

Feb. 20
Cayman Islands Baptist Church
7:30 p.m.

Violin soloist Elizabeth Pitcairn will take the stage at Cayman Islands Baptist Church on Feb. 20.

Born in 1973 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to a closely knit musical family (her mother is a Juilliard-trained cellist), Pitcairn began playing the violin at age 3 and made her debut with orchestra at 14. Her path led her to Los Angeles to study with preeminent violin professor Robert Lipsett at the University of Southern California. Her former teachers include Julian Meyer, Sylvia Ahramjian, Jascha Brodsky, Robert Lipsett and Shmuel Ashkenasi.

Elizabeth Pitcairn possesses and plays a rare violin - the Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius of 1720 - said to have inspired the film 'The Red Violin.'
Elizabeth Pitcairn possesses and plays a rare violin – the Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius of 1720 – said to have inspired the film ‘The Red Violin.’

She is one of America’s most beloved soloists, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Fisher Center and the Kimmel Center.

Passionate about youth and education, she is in her fifth year as president and artistic director of the Luzerne Music Center, which provides training for gifted young musicians ages 9 to 18 in upstate New York.

The artist performs with one of the world’s most legendary instruments, the ‘Red Mendelssohn’ Stradivarius of 1720, said to have inspired the Academy Award–winning film “The Red Violin.”

Feb. 25
George Town Yacht Club
7:30 p.m.

Child prodigy Joey Alexander will perform at George Town Yacht Club on Feb. 25. Born in the city of Denpasar on the island of Bali in 2003, Joey first encountered a piano at the age of 6, and was immediately able to pick out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” and other jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear.

The Joey Alexander performance is sold out.
The Joey Alexander performance is sold out.

Despite his lack of formal jazz training, he developed an authoritative technique, and with his depth of musicality he quickly rose in the Indonesian jazz scene and beyond. At age 8, UNESCO invited Joey to play solo piano in front of jazz icon Herbie Hancock during his visit to Indonesia. Joey drew significant inspiration from Herbie’s enthusiastic response to his playing.

At age 10, Joey was featured at jazz festivals in both Jakarta and Copenhagen, and he won the international improvisation contest in Odessa, Ukraine – besting more than 200 jazz professionals from 17 countries. In 2014, he performed at star-studded galas in New York City for Jazz at Lincoln Center in Rose Hall, the Jazz Foundation of America at the Apollo and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center at Gotham Hall.

*This event is sold out. See the website for any ticket updates.

Feb. 26
First Baptist Church
7:30 p.m.

Jazz maestro Mokhtar Samba will perform at First Baptist Church on Feb. 26.
A man of rhythm, with an extensive history in the music arena, Mokhtar Samba has securely established himself over the years as one of the leading musicians on the multicultural music scene.

A drummer and percussionist of Moroccan and Senegalese origin, Mokhtar has played alongside many well-known musicians, including Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Youssou N’Dour, Carlos Santana, Carlinhos Brown, Eddy Louis, Jean Luc Ponty, Manu Dibango, and Richard Bona, etc., among others.

From his debut with Hamsa Music to the legendary Ultramarine (featuring Etienne M’Bappé, Mario Canonge and N’Guyen Lê, among others), Mokhtar has proven to be a diligent, vigorous yet inventive explorer.

Putting it all together

“So many people have told me that they hunger for more high-quality cultural events on the island, and for more classical music events,” says the festival’s executive director, Marius Gaina.

There will also be exhibitions by the Visual Arts Society and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

“People should attend the Cayman Arts Festival to relax and have a good time … come, relax and enjoy this unique environment,” said Mr. Gaina. “Leave your phones at home, socialize with other music lovers. Everybody should take advantage of this luxury of being offline for a few hours in the company of some fantastic performers and great music.”

Tickets are $30 per event in advance for adults, or $35 at the door, and $8 per event in advance for students, or $10 at the door. Call 922-5550, email [email protected], or visit the website.