The Bermuda Festival is back again this winter with a decidedly feminine focus. “She is Art” is the theme for this year’s production, which will see a carefully curated program that emphasizes the empowerment of women.
“I think programing defines the success of a festival, there are other ingredients but curation is key.”
says Executive Director T.J. Armand, who has secured a line-up of mega-stars for this year’s production including the “Queen of Funk”, Chaka Khan, and ten-time Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist group, The Manhattan Transfer. The genre is immaterial, he tells me, emphasizing that the festival’s focus is and always has been on “showcasing the very best in performing arts” from classical to pop and everything in between.
Bringing world-renowned artists to the island since 1974, this annual event is the highlight of the winter season in Bermuda, intended not only to entertain but also to educate and inspire the island’s budding musicians. An award-winning composer, lyricist and Broadway Veteran, Mr. Armand accepted the position this year with a vision to carry the festival’s legacy to new heights. Reflecting upon his involvement with local music students in the festival’s Community Outreach Program, “The Music literacy level here is amazing,” he tells me, clearly impressed, while asserting his conclusion that the island’s unique history and culture provides visitors with “so much more than just a beach experience”.
The festival will also showcase a number of local celebrities who have achieved international success in their musical careers; including singer-songwriter, Heather Nova; Broadway star, Rebecca Faulkenberry; and jazz divas, Sheila Smith and Gita Blakeney. “They are, to us, just as important as the international acts because they put the whole picture together.”
The different acts are connected by the central theme, decided upon as a response to the current global zeitgeist. “We knew at that time that the Empowerment of Women theme, wasn’t a fad. This was resonating all over the world, not just in the US, not just the Me-Too movement, it’s all encompassing and I believe this is a very important period that we had to recognize.”
The awe-inspiring program celebrates the power of the feminine- in both flesh and spirit- featuring a number of tributes to lady legends of the past, including; A Tribute to Janis Joplin by Tony-award nominated singer/actress, Mary Bridget Davies; Four Women, a play about the life of Nina Simone; Terrence McNally’s Master Class, a play starring Kathryn Kates as opera diva, Maria Callas; and a selection of pieces from little-known female classical composers from the 17th and 18th centuries, played by the Frisson Ensemble – a mix of rising stars from Julliard, Curtis and Yale. The program also includes a sprinkling of family- friendly productions include the international-award winning, Bubble Man and Broadway’s Next H!t Musical.
Tickets are now on sale at Ptix.bm or visit Bermudafestival.org to learn about the accommodation and event ticket bundle packages on offer.