Music students entertain passing travellers to raise funds

Between intercom announcements and the chatter of busy travellers, the sounds of cello and trumpet filled the Owen Roberts International Airport corridor on Saturday.

While some busy travellers rushed by, other stopped to film, donate or say hello to the duet, Dequan Smith, cello, and Cameron Gilson, trumpet, both 16.

Over the past several weeks, the two have been stationed between Foster’s Food Fair at the Strand and the airport, serenading the public two to three times a week and raising funds to support their music education.

The teens are part of a group of six music students who will spend a month this summer at the Luzerne Music Center in New York. While acceptance to the prestigious music camp is a major opportunity for the students, it also comes with a price – $20,000 for the group.

“Armed with the knowledge that [the Cayman Arts Festival] was facing a shortfall in the total funds of $20,000 needed to cover airfare, accommodation and tuition fees for the music camp, the two young men wanted to help in any way they could, and so began the afternoon ‘busking’ sessions at Fosters,” explained a Cayman Arts Festival social media post.

While Dequan was nervous at first, unsure if passersby would donate, he has been pleased with the response.

“I was quite presently surprised. A lot of people were quite generous,” he said.

Cameron added, “We’ve met a lot of nice people. Lots of locals have come up to say hi, even people we know.”

The pair said they raised nearly $2,000 before they flew out for the senior session on Monday. They will be at the 20-acre, cellphone-free campus in the Adirondack Mountains for a month. It will be Cameron’s first time at the camp and Dequan’s third.

Cameron Gilson plays trumpet for travellers on Saturday at Owen Roberts International Airport.

“Now since we’ve made the money,” Dequan said, “I feel like we deserve to go.”

Dequan will focus on learning a piano trio, as well as some solo work. Cameron said he will be tackling a duet alongside solo pieces.

“[It] should be fun to be disconnected. It doesn’t scare me. I love music,” Cameron said.

Four other students – Kyla David, 14; Jessie Hurlston-Watler, 14; Daniel Gayle, 13; and Zachary Allen, 13 – returned from the camp’s junior session this week.

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