Jonathan Bedasse’s musical career began with a dream when he was 6.

“I told my mom I had a dream about playing the piano,” said Bedasse, 17, who just finished year 12 at Cayman Prep, “so she signed me up for lessons”.

Next week, Bedasse will take some high profile lessons at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Hunter College in New York City. He’s travelling to the week-long event after participating in a workshop conducted in Cayman by Matei Varga, an international concert pianist, and being chosen to receive a scholarship, provided by the Cayman Arts Festival.

Bedasse will have the chance to receive direct instruction during four master classes, and can sit in on as many other classes as he wants during the festival. Each night there is a concert, he said.

“I definitely want to work with Mr. Matei again,” Bedasse said, “and the camp director, Jerome Rose. I want to leave with being a better musician and a better performer. Being in that environment, you’re bound to pick up something and take something away.”

Bedasse will be one of more than 100 piano students attending the festival, which is now in its 20th year.

“It’s obviously a huge honour to go,” he said.

Last year, he said, Butterfield Bank provided a scholarship that allowed him to go to the Juilliard School for a master class, but that was for a single day.

Born in Florida, but raised all of his life in Cayman, Bedasse also plays the violin. He was inspired at age 8, he said when a Jamaican school orchestra performed in Cayman. He now plays the violin in the Cayman Youth Orchestra, but considers himself a pianist first.

“I’m definitely at a higher level with the piano,” he said. “But I still enjoy playing the violin.”

He enjoys playing music from the Romantic period most, he said.

“I like Chopin and Beethoven,” he said, after an impressive rendition of the first and third movements of Beethoven’s ‘Pathetique Sonata’. “But I like jazz as well. With classical [music], there’s less dynamic. You don’t get to put your own twist on it. The whole point of music is as a form of artistic expression.”

Despite the fact that music has taken up much of his life in the past decade – even though he admits he does not practise as much as he thinks he should – Bedasse does not plan to pursue it as a career.

“I want to do an economics degree in the States,” he said, with maybe a minor in music.

He said he’s looking forward to making new friends, possibly seeing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and immersing himself in music during his week in New York.

“It’s a huge opportunity to improve my skills as a musician,” he said.

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