Something extra from Cayman Arts Festival

 The Cayman Arts Festival is back to entertain Cayman again, but this time it’s “EXTRA” in that it will be two events in March this year.

“We’ve got a very mini-festival, more or less,” says Cayman Arts artistic director Glen Inanga. “It’s the not our main biennial festival, but it’s basically a little showcase of what to expect in 2012 and to let our audience and sponsors know that we are not standing still.”

The festival has been going on since 2004. It was started by Glen and Jennifer Micallef, who saw an opportunity to bring international standards of music to the Island. Since 2004, there has been a biennial festival of typically five events plus a youth event. They bring in overseas artists and mix them with local talent.

“The first event we have this year is the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble – it’s a quintet with Julliard Jazz Artistic Director, guest drummer Carl Allen and guest faculty member Rodney Jones – and they’ll be performing on the 19th of March in the Marriott ballroom,” Glen says, adding that the event is being generously sponsored by Deloitte, Stepping Stones and Ogier. “This is the first dipping of toes in the water for a relationship with the Juilliard School, where we can bring a mixture of their students and faculty down here to perform. We are also extremely grateful for the support of Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways and the Caymanian Compass in the presentation of this event”, he adds.

Glen and Jennifer had been in talks with the Juilliard folks for about a year now. “We’ve been trying to find a route through with which we can work with an educational establishment of the highest quality as well as one with internationally recognised performance standards. And because they are on this side of the Atlantic, this relationship makes perfect sense,” Glen says.

On Friday 18 March, the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble will be conducting master classes and workshops with students here in Cayman, which they’re very excited about. These will be held at St. Ignatius and Clifton Hunter high schools. “And I know there’s been a lot of keen interest in jazz amongst our young ones. So that’s going to be something for all of us to look forward to,” he says.

“We’re hoping this the beginning of a really wonderful relationship that over the next few years we can cultivate,” Glen explains. “It’s also exciting because they’re an outstanding institution, which we hope will inspire Cayman students to go on and study.”

The second event for 2011 is an exciting collaboration amongst three local choirs, involving the Cayman National Choir, the UCCI Choir, and the Cayman Youth Choir, which will showcase some of the most accomplished young singers that Cayman has to offer.

“They’ll be performing John Rutter’s Requiem, which is a wonderful work for choirs,” says Glen. “That’s going to be the following Saturday on the 26th of March. Sue Horrocks, who is the principal conductor of the Cayman National Choir, will be conducting, and this promises to be a wonderful collaboration. Butterfield, loyal and committed Cayman Arts sponsors since 2004, are sponsoring this event.”

Glen’s students at UCCI, and the Cayman Youth Choir singers, are very excited about this. They’ve already started work on it. “To be singing something in Latin, for example, is something novel for them. And singing something of such magnitude is, again, a novelty for them,” he says.

Glen explains that because this year is an extra festival, it’s a smaller scale showcase. “We want to make it clear that this is not our full biennial festival, but something to keep our audience and sponsor interest going. And this is our first step in trying to perhaps develop a yearly event,” he says.

“We’re very excited about this. We have a wonderful lineup. It captures the same thing that our mission is interested in, showcasing international quality as well as providing education for our local community and our young children.”

In short, Glen is hoping that this extra mini-Festival will turn into something major. 

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Photo: Stephen Clarke