The Cayman Arts Festival kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 5, providing a rare opportunity to enjoy a week-and-a-half of world-class entertainment. While the highlights of the festival for many may be the outstanding musical and dance performances, students of all ages are preparing to draw a huge amount of experience from the array of educational activities aimed at Cayman’s youth.
Glen Inanga, the artistic director of the Cayman Arts Festival, is the vision behind the biannual music and dance extravaganza, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
An acclaimed pianist who has performed worldwide to tremendous success, Inanga is also a senior lecturer at the University College of the Cayman Islands, which he joined in 2007 with the task of developing a music program. His dedication to education, combined with his passion for music, has produced an exciting series of educational opportunities that will hopefully influence as many youngsters in Cayman as possible.
Education is key
Inanga is aided by CAF managers Pam McDonough Brown and Nisha Bismillah, who have been working diligently to organize a lively educational program for young people.
Bismillah explains: “While we strive to put together the best entertainment possible with outstanding and world-renowned performers, our core objective is the educational component. Whether it is through our Music on the Menu series, where proceeds support the Cayman Youth Choir, or the upcoming 10th anniversary festival, CAF is proud to offer the youth of Cayman the opportunity to engage and learn from these many talented artists.”
Furthering musical expression
Inanga says he is pleased that all the visiting artists will be conducting workshops, master classes or concert demonstrations for the educational benefit of Cayman’s youth. This year, organizers are also excited to present “Rising Stars,” which will feature selected finalists from the 2013 Butterfield Young Musicians of the Year.
Two master classes will be held by the visiting musicians, a saxophone/woodwind master class with Amy Dickson on Feb. 6 at St. Ignatius School, and a piano master class the following day with Danny Driver, also at St. Ignatius.
London-based Dickson has performed throughout the world, in venues such as Wigmore Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House, as a soloist with many orchestras including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Driver, a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, has played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, to name but a few.
“For the saxophone/woodwind master class, students can expect to work on saxophone technique, gain tips on performance and interpretation, as well as on ensemble playing,” Inanga says. “For the piano master class, three selected students will play piano solos which will form the basis for discussions on piano technique, how to approach stylistically aware interpretations and the art of performance in general.”
“Students from other schools are also invited to attend the workshop so that we can ensure everyone is included,” McDonough Brown says.
Song and dance
A workshop with the Harlem Gospel Choir will also be a highlight for students. Things will kick off with one combined performance (featuring as many different local singers as possible, led by Noel Wallace) of “Total Praise” followed by a session on learning more about improvisation in the Gospel music genre.
Dancers get the chance to shine
Cayman’s young dancers will be treated to a variety of dance workshops with the Juilliard Dance group at schools and dance studios throughout Cayman.
“Now going into its 62nd season, the Juilliard Dance Division is a groundbreaking conservatory dance program whose faculty and alumni have changed the face of dance around the world,” McDonough Brown says. “The organizing committee at CAF is thrilled this year to be able to bring this educational outreach program to the schools and dance studios of Grand Cayman, with a final sharing to be presented at the Harquail Theatre on Feb. 14.”
Inanga says collaboration with Juilliard School continues to grow.
“‘Education in Motion’ is an outreach workshop designed and conducted by Juilliard Dance, with children from a wide cross-section of Cayman’s schools leading up to a moment of ‘Final Sharing’ at the Harquail Theatre,” he says.
He explains what dance students can expect from the workshops: “Three dance teaching artists and one percussionist will provide instruction in and a basic introduction to movement-oriented and artistic concepts that will be expounded upon throughout the residency.
“Though each series of classes will be customized to the group of students, some sample exercises and concepts include interpreting text through movement, understanding rhythm, using improvisation to expand creativity, and building physical strength.”
Inanga cannot stress enough how important it is for youngsters in Cayman to benefit from the master classes and workshops that have been lined up for them during this memorable event.
“By creating a tangible context which is both inspiring and memorable, this kind of interaction reinforces and brings to life those same values of hard work and dedication which their teachers continually try to instill in them,” he says.
For a full schedule of events, visit http://caymanartsfestival.com.