By Lindsey Turnbull
Fulfilling its aim of promoting musical skills among Cayman’s young people, Cayman Arts Festival is this year intending to send six students to the Luzerne Music Centre in New York for a month-long summer camp tuition.
It is hoped that four students from John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School will be flying to the music school in the middle of June to attend the junior music camp and then one student from John Gray High School and one from St Ignatius should be attending the senior camp starting mid-July.
Cayman Arts Festival Director, Marius Gaina, is open about the need for funding the trips.
“Each year the Cayman Arts Festival aims to send at least one musically-gifted student to the Luzerne Music Centre as the exposure they receive while at the month-long summer camp improves their skills and increases their confidence no end,” he confirmed. “This year we are aiming even higher and hope to send six young people to the school. This is a huge financial undertaking for us.”
Each student costs the CAF US$5,000 in airfare, accommodation and tuition fees for the month. Having built up a relationship with the school, Marius said they had been given a generous discount by the school of US$10,000, so they have only had to find US$20,000.
“We have managed to raise US$17,000 through the CAF and also through students playing at supermarkets, etc. We are now on the final push to raise the remaining US$3,000. I am therefore appealing to the community – if you are able to donate funds to this incredible cause the students would be so appreciative,” Marius said.
Luzerne Music Centre was founded in 1980 by Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Bert Phillips and Steinway pianist Toby Blumenthal. Its aim is to provide world-class music instruction for passionate young people in a summer camp environment regardless of their financial circumstance. Musicians ages 9 to 18 come from all over the world to train at their campus located in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Park.
Students have been earmarked for the trip by the CAF. They include John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School students Jessie Hurlston-Watler, 14 who plays violin, Daniel Gayle, 13, who plays the viola, Kyla David, 13, who plays cello, cellist Zachary Allen, 13, and Dequan Smith, 16, an accomplished cellist who had been to the Luzerne Music Centre twice and is now planning to undertake his A-levels at the prestigious Wells Cathedral School in England in September. Dequan was the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year for 2019. Pianist Cameron Gilson, 16, who attends St Ignatius, was the runner up in the Young Musician of the Year award this year is the sixth student hoping to attend Luzerne this year.
“We hope that all six students are able to benefit from the incredible opportunity the summer camp offers them,” Marius said. “It is a testament to the success of the summer camp, of course coupled with extensive practice, that students such as Dequan have been able to reach such a high standard in their musical skills.”
If you would like to contribute to sending Cayman’s youth to Luzerne this summer, please contact Marius Gaina at firstname.lastname@example.org.