By Lindsey Turnbull
Classical music might not necessarily be a top choice music genre for young people in Cayman, but the internationally acclaimed performers who took part in this year’s Cayman Arts Festival have helped develop a passion for their music among a good number of Cayman’s young people.
Talent headed to Sister Islands
Headline performers who drew in music lovers this year included a young Romanian cellist, Andrei IoniÅ£Äƒ, who has been hailed as one of the world’s brightest stars when it comes to the cello. Outside of his sold out performance at the cinema at Camana Bay, Andrei took the time to visit St Ignatius High School for a masterclass in the basics of playing the cello. He then went to Cayman Brac, where he met with a dozen or so young violin players at the Layman E Scott High School, to assist with their playing.
“We do not have any cellos at the school but we do have violin players and Andrei did fantastic work with our students, showing them how to set up, teaching positioning and playing in general,” Principal Adrian Jones stated. “He then gave a performance for the entire school which the students and staff greatly appreciated. The staff were very impressed by the level at which he played.”
Mr Jones said that a couple of students were so impressed by Andrei’s playing that they requested to fly to Grand Cayman to watch Andrei’s performance at Camana Bay. Cayman Arts Festival were happy to provide two tickets free of charge for the young people to experience this world class performer, who has played in places such as London (Wigmore Hall), Munich (Gasteig), Berlin (Philharmonie) and Vienna (Musikverein).
“We really appreciated Andrei’s visit and were grateful for consideration and to be remembered by the Cayman Arts Festival,” Mr Jones added.
Connecting through humour
Classical Mayhem is a musical duo of twin brothers Tim Armstrong-Taylor and Roland Taylor, along with colleagues Daniel Meades, Ruth Kerr and Melanie Gutteridge. They gave a brilliant performance of the history of opera entertaining the audience with humour as well as music. This was also their theme when they gave a masterclass to more than 200 students at St Ignatius High School the day before their performance.
“Although opera may not be the top choice of music for young people, the singers managed to connect with the students through humour and the masterclass was a great success. They really found the key to presenting opera in such a way that was attractive to the young people,” Marius Gaina, Executive Director of the Cayman Arts Festival said.
He added that people came up to him after the Classical Mayhem event, which took place at the Marriott ballroom, stating they were there because their children had attended the masterclass the day before and had wanted to see the performance.
Geraldine McGreevy and Christopher gave a musical recital at the festival, and were real “connoisseurs” of their art, according to Mr Gaina. It was felt their music would be attractive to slightly older young people, so the offer was given to UCCI students to attend and they enjoyed the event greatly, saying they had never heard anything like it before, Mr Gaina confirmed.
Homegrown talent emerges
The New York cabaret act of world class American singer KT Sullivan and her colleagues, Natalie Douglas, Carole J. Bufford, and Eric Yves Garcia, accompanied at piano by Jon Weber, was another brilliant event on the Cayman Arts Festival calendar. These performers also took the time to work with Cayman’s youth, working closely with a smaller group of between 20 and 25 gifted young musicians at St Ignatius School, focusing on each individual and giving them excellent advice and encouragement. The performers allowed young Caymanian singer Jaedyn Hanna to sing for the audience during their act.
“I already knew just how good Jaedyn was, so I turned my attention to the crowd when she performed and it was really touching to see the audience go so still in amazement at her ability. When she finished and the audience gave her a standing ovation there was a real sense of pride among the audience. I felt like they were saying – you guys are great, but look what we have at home!” Mr Gaina said. “We had a similar reaction when students were able to perform jazz music to the audience before the Classical Mayhem performance.”
After the festival Mr Gaina said the CAF directors sat down to discuss whether putting on the festival every two years was worthwhile, given the effort involved.
“We decided we needed to keep on pushing because the momentum is there and the students are becoming increasingly motivated to try and follow similar paths as these top musicians. We believe therefore that it is a very worthwhile event that we need to continue,” Mr Gaina said.