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Eclectic musical mix at Cayman Arts Festival

Arts and Culture 21 Feb, 2020 Follow News

Violinist Kristine Balanas (Photo credit: Albert Cabudoy)

Cellist Margarita Balanas (Photo credit: Albert Cabudoy)

The Rodney Marsalis Big Brass band (Photo credit: Albert Cabudoy)

Cayman Arts Festival Executive Director Marius Gaina and Artistic Director Glen Inanga

By Lindsey Turnbull


The Cayman Arts Festival never fails to deliver exciting talent to the Cayman Islands throughout the year and the main festival for 2020 was no exception, with jazz, classical and even Big Brass on the musical menu during the fortnight-long celebration of music.

Marius Gaina, the Executive Director of Cayman Arts Festival, said that both headlining events in the first week were sold out.

“People love it!” he stated. “We try to find emerging artists who we can afford to bring to the event and the artistic directors thought the first event, the Kristine and Margarita Balanas cello and violin recital, might be a group to experience. The sisters, who are from Latvia, said they loved it here and they stayed a few more days. The audience loved them and wanted more.”

Marius said the violin and cello recital was opened by the Cayman Arts Festival’s youngest cellists who learn to play this instrument throughout the year.

“We have more than 30 new cellists on the programme,” Marius explained. “They performed Ode to Joy. It was their first performance for the public since they began playing together last September and they were really well received. It was great to see them all smartly dressed for the occasion, with some of the cellos bigger than them. The cellists are all aged between eight and 10 years of age and one of the sponsors of the programme played with them, which was a nice touch.”

Marius went on to say that the event they held on the following Saturday with the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass was also sold out and went extraordinarily well, receiving a fantastic response from the audience.

“For me I thought it was a bit too loud initially, but it was perfect!” he said. “The sponsors were happy and the attendees were happy. The band will come back as we’ve already spoken with them. It’s still in the planning stage, but they plan to come back with something new next year.”

The following week saw Cayman’s own brilliant pianist and also the Cayman Arts Festival’s Artistic Director, Glen Inanga, performing classical music on the piano along with Cuban musicians Antonio Alvarez Sanchez on cello and Yoan Tamayo Garcia on violin. The music they performed was composed by Cuban composers. The Cayman Arts Festival’s afterschool programme showcased their talents at the Jubilate concert taking place the following day and Croatian leading voice Lana Janjanin and founder of the Lana Janjanin Trio took to the stage on the final Saturday.

“Lana is from Croatia and the other members of the trio are from Slovenia and Austria, so this is a different type of jazz as it’s coming with European influences,” Marius said. “If we talk about jazz, it’s generally the style that comes from America. This time it’s coming from Europe. At the opening our youngest jazz singers performed and as a surprise, the artists came back on stage to perform with the youngsters at the end.”

Marius said he was really pleased with the level of interest in this year’s Cayman Arts Festival.

“I think it’s another successful festival,” he confirmed. “We have already got plans for 2021 as we already know who is coming. We just need to get the contracts signed.”

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