The Caribbean’s Best Classical Music Festival Is In Guadeloupe

guadeloupe caribbean music festival
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By Dana Niland
CJ Contributor

It may be one of the most under-the-radar destinations in the Caribbean — but it’s time Guadeloupe found itself on your travel calendar.

The next big reason to visit? The destination’s Saint-Georges International Music Festival. the leading classical music festival in the Caribbean.

The second edition of the festival, which takes place March 16-23, is a tribute to Joseph Bologne, also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a musical legend born in Guadeloupe who was a virtuoso violinist and conductor whose musical impact influenced Mozart and Haydn, among others.

“We are thrilled about this second edition, as the Caribbean Tourism Organization has declared 2019 ‘The Year of Festivals for the Caribbean,’ said Ary Chalus, President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. “This Festival is unique because it celebrates the musical heritage of the first known Black composer and the most diverse orchestra in the world.”

“The Saint-Georges International Music Festival is the symbol of Excellence in Diversity and we are looking forward to welcoming classical music lovers on the occasion of the 220th Anniversary of Guadeloupe’s first champion, virtuoso and hero,” Chalus said.

The festival will mark the 220th anniversary of the death of Chevalier de Saint Georges.

Concerts will take place in some of the butterfly-shaped archipelago’s most emblematic landmarks, such as The Memorial ACTe, St. Pierre, St. Paul Cathedral and the city of Baillif, the birthplace of Bologne.

On the program of the festival are grand concerts, chamber music, cross-over jazz nights, conferences and master classes.

A U.S. preview of the festival took place on Thursday, January 31, 2019, at the Schomburg Research Center in Harlem, New York, featuring 15 musicians from the Saint-Georges International orchestra, and, for the first time in the U.S., Guadeloupean Soprano Leïla Brédent, under the direction of conductor Marlon Daniel, the festival’s Artistic and Music Director.

Marlon Daniel will be directing the festival in March, which will also feature internationally renowned artists such as Soprano Janinah Burnett; mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges; bass Solomon Howard, who has just received the Kennedy Center Marian Anderson Vocal Award; and musicians Romuald  Grimbert-Barré and Sami Junnonen, just to name of few of the 40 musicians that will compose the Saint-Georges’ International orchestra.

— CJ