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By Cécile Lucot
    Cécile Lucot has been living in St. Barths for 9 years. Originally from Bordeaux, this professional journalist has been the editor-in-chief of St-Barth Magazine for 6 years. She is actually a reporter for the daily local mini-newspaper "Today" and writes regularly for regional magazines such as Mer Caraïbes and Tropical, and once or twice a month presents a synthese of the local news on St. Barths Online.
  January 20, 2004 - #14
  The New Year Begins With Classical Music

As soon as the end-of-the-year parties were over, the island was filled with the classical airs of the St Barth Music Festival, created and directed by violinist Frances De Broff (with the help of a volunteer committee of 20 people). In celebration of the festival's 20th anniversary, Kader Belarbi, a principal dancer from the Paris Opera Ballet, choreographed an eight-minute piece, "Entre Eux." It premiered on January 9, the opening night of the festival, and was danced by Marie-Agnès Gillot, prima ballerina at the Paris Opera Ballet, and Jiri Bubenicek, principal dancer with the Hamburg Ballet. It will be presented for a second time in Brussels on January 25 as part of a benefit evening for AIDS research that features the work of world-renowned choreographers.

Benjamin Pech and Yann Saïz, also leading dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet, and Otto Bubenicek, principal dancer with the Hamburg Ballet, also took part in the festival this year. In a series of solos, duets, and trios, the five dancers presented a mix of classical work and contemporary pieces that added a breath of fresh air to the program. Jiri Bubenicek choreographed another premiere, performed with his twin brother, Otto.

On Tuesday, January 13, classical music took center stage after a break of two days, with concerts running through January 20, with a final concert of saxophone and piano. Fifty-eight artists, both musicians and singers, took to the stage to perform everything from Beethoven, Bach, Grieg, Ravel, and Rachmaninov to famous opera arias. The festival provides moments of pure pleasure, and an unusual opportunity for the residents of Saint-Barth to attend concerts of this quality.

This year, instead of commissioning a painting from an island artist for the annual poster, the festival organizers, in conjunction with the association St B'Art, held a painting competition open to all local painters, both amateur and professional. The painting done by Stanislas Defize was selected as the official poster design, and was also printed on 3,000 pre-stamped envelopes sold at the Post Office. The 22 paintings entered in the competition were auctioned off on January 11 at the Guanahani Hotel. Twenty-one of the paintings were sold for the sum of $29,955 dollars, 70% of which was donated to the Music Festival. The remaining 30% was divided among the three winning artists in the competition and used to cover the expenses incurred by St-B'Art in organizing the auction. The winners of the competition, decided by a "public vote" the night of the auction were Stanislas Defize, first prize, Antoine Heckly, second prize, and Jean-Pierre Ballagny, third prize.

  More to come
  Cécile Lucot
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