Cayman Arts Festival’s EXTRA 2011 to be a hit

The Cayman Arts Festival started in 2004 will be a mini version of itself this year, but will feature top talent from the famous Juilliard School of Music.

This year’s Cayman Arts Festival will be a mini-festival, more or less.

“It’s not the main festival, but it’s basically a little showcase of generally what to expect in 2012 and to let our audience and sponsors know that we are not standing still,” said Glen Inanga, the Festival’s artistic director.

The Festival was started by Glen Inanga and Jennifer Micallef in 2004. They are local musicians and educators who saw an opportunity to bring international standards of music and good fun to the island.

Since then, they have created a biennial festival of typically five events plus a youth event. Inanga and Micallef bring in overseas artists and mix them with local Caymanian talent.

The very first event of EXTRA 2011 is the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble, a quintet with Juilliard Jazz Artistic director, guest drummer Carl Allen and guest faculty member Rodney Jones who will be performing on Saturday, 19 March, in the Marriott Beach Resort ballroom. The Juilliard School of Music’s distinguished faculty and musicians include Pulitzer Prize, Grammy and Academy Award winners.

The event is sponsored by Deloitte, SteppingStones and Ogier, together with support from the Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways and the Caymanian Compass.

Inanga is hoping for a longer-term relationship with Juilliard, within CAF’s scope. He wants to bring a mixture of Juilliard students and faculty to Cayman to perform.

“We’ve been in talks with them for about a year now, partly because we’ve been trying to find a route through with which we can work with an educational establishment of quality,” Inanga said.

He considers Julliard’s performance standards to be of the highest quality.

“And because they are on this side of the Atlantic, having a liaison with them makes perfect sense,” he said.

On Friday, 18 March, the five Juilliard players – Clovis Nicolas (upright bass), Joe McDonough (trombone), Kris Bowers (piano), Rodney Jones (guitar), and Allen (drums) – are going to be conducting master classes and workshops with students at St. Ignatius and Clifton Hunter high schools.

“And I know there’s been a lot of keen interest in jazz among our young ones,” Inanga said. “So that’s going to be something for all of us to look forward to. We’re hoping this is going to be a really wonderful beginning and that over the next few years we can actually cultivate.”

Inanga hopes that Juilliard’s performance and presence will inspire students to go on and study music.

“So this is hopefully the beginning of something great,” said Inanga.

The second EXTRA 2011 event is a collaboration among three choirs, involving the Cayman National Choir, the University Community College of the Cayman Islands Choir, and the Cayman Youth Choir, accompanied by the Cayman National Orchestra.

This event is setting out to showcase some of the most accomplished young singers that are living in Cayman.

The choirs will be performing John Rutter’s Requiem, which is almost entirely in Latin.

“That will take place the following Saturday, 26 March. Sue Horrocks, who is the principal conductor of the Cayman National Choir, will be conducting the performance,” Inanga said. “It’s going to be a wonderful collaboration.”

Butterfield is that event’s sponsor.

“My students are very excited about this. We have started work on it,” Inanga said. “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.”