Organizers of the annual Classical/Pops Barbados Festival are hoping for a bigger event this year.
Michael Aiken, general director of the show which is in its third year, says organizers are hoping to have a 30 per cent increase in the number of patrons.
The show comes off on December 9 and 10 at the Apes Hill Club in St James.
Addressing the official launch, Aiken said he was “building on the success of the last year”. “We almost doubled in size last year,” he said, adding: “We are not done, we will be bringing an even bigger show this year to the island and the way things are looking, we anticipate at least a 30 per cent growth.”
Classical/Pops refer to an orchestra that plays classical master works as well as contemporary popular music, accompanied by pop and rock stars, Broadway performers, opera divas and film composers.
Aiken said the show, which has set a high standard, was generating considerable interest among some of the world’s leading entertainers. So much so that American opera singer and soprano, Renée Fleming, has already indicated she would like to perform next year.
“Other islands are taking note of this,” Aiken said, noting that when he came up with the idea of staging the show, the venue was toss-up between Barbados and another Caribbean island.
Describing Classical/Pops as a cost effective concert in the Caribbean, Aiken said for this year he had formed a strategic partnership with Sandals Resorts that will result in a number of their guests purchasing tickets for the show.
He has also partnered with the popular New York concert venue, Carnegie Hall, as well as JetBlue and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) to help promote the event and the island.
Classical pops lovers are in for a treat this year with officials promising a tantalizing line-up of performers including Italian Fabio Armiliato and American Alyson Cambridge.
BTMI senior director of support services, Neville Boxhill, welcomed the entertainment event, saying it filled a very important niche for the country.
“A lot of people may come Barbados for sun, sea and sand . . . but you can get that many different places. What is important for us, and what we have tried to work to build over the years, is a diversified tourism product, giving people something else to do,” he said, pointing to sport and entertainment.
Adding that he was impressed with the level of the show last year, Boxhill said with the organizers promising an even better time this year, he was grateful the show would be staged again on the island.
“We rely to a large extent on the private sector to come up with interesting and innovative events and to work with us. We are not able to do everything in that regard; our expertise is to market. We rely on the private sector to come up with these events and to do a great job of putting them on. Give us a product that we can proudly go out there and show to the world and use an incentive to drive more people here,” added Boxhill.
Owner of the upscale Apes Hill development, Sir Charles Williams, said he was humbled and honoured that the organizers had chosen the location for the two-day event.
He said Barbados should appreciate the organizers of the Classical/Pops show more, given its impact so far and the potential benefits to the island’s economy through tourism.
“It is great to hear BTMI is in it. This is a big project and it takes a lot of . . . risk to go into it. I am very proud of what the management and staff have done to put it here [at Apes Hill],” said Williams.