January 18, 2005 - #36
21st annual St Barth Music Festival
This year’s St Barth Music Festival opened on January 7, 2005 with a superb evening of dance at AJOE in Lorient. First on the program were Kim’s local dance students. They were followed by a group of young stars from the Paris Opera Ballet including Eléonora Abbagnato, Alice Renavand, Benjamin Pech, Yann Saïs, and Sébastien Bertaud (plus surprise guest Jeremy Bellingard) as well as Hervé Courtain, a French dancer with the Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal. They presented a varied program of contemporary choreography, both solos and pas de deux. Producer Ivan Cavalcanti organized their performances for the second year in a row. Because the dancers love to come to Saint-Barth, the dancers are willing to perform during a short break from their busy winter schedules. Eléonora
Abbagnato, for example, had just danced the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker” at the newly renovated La Scala Opera House in Milan, and Yann Saïs danced at the Palais Garnier in Paris until December 31, in “Pas.Part” by William Forsythe. Benjamin Pech was just named Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, while Alice Renavand and Sébastien Bertaud were promoted to soloists at the Paris Ballet Opera on December 22. Sébastien is not only a talented dancer but also a promising young choreographer, who starred in one of his own works in both evenings of dance at the festival. Based on the theme of a vagabond, the piece is a tribute to Charlie Chaplin and the silent cinema of the 1940s. Dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and a bowler hat, and carrying a large black umbrella, his piece was a big hit with the audience. This was the second year that the festival began with two evenings of dance, before the music concerts got underway.
Another exceptional evening was that of Wednesday, January 12, when the Monty Alexander Trio presented two great jazz concerts at the Anglican Church in Gustavia. Orchestra concerts on Tuesday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 19, at the Catholic Church in Lorient were led by maestros Alex Klein on Tuesday and Richard Buckley on Wednesday. The programs included excerpts from “The Barber of Seville,” Beethoven’s Symphony number 6 in F major, Haydn’s Symphony Concertante in B Flat Major, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, Opus 90.
Approximately 60 musicians, many of whom are virtuosi with major orchestras and classical musical ensembles in the United States, will perform in festival events through January 25. Saint Barth is lucky to have such an extraordinary musical event. It is only possible thanks to the hard work of Frances Debroff, a violinist who loves Saint Barth and is co-founder and director of the festival, and her team of volunteers.
Each edition of the festival has its own character. This year, for example, there are two CDs for sale that were recorded by festival musicians during a summer festival that Frances Debroff has produced for the past 14 years at the Château d’Ainay-Le-Vieil in France. Engineered by Richard Hale in the Abbey Road studios in London (where many of the Beatles records were recorded), and produced by Grammy Award winning producer Tom Frost, there is one CD with classical music and one with jazz. Each is a special edition limited to just 500 CDs.
More to come