Some of the finest musicians, dancers and actors in the world will travel to Aiken in March for Juilliard in Aiken's Third Annual Performing Arts Festival.
From March 5-11, the weeklong festival will feature performances by 39 faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, alumni and pre-college students from The Juilliard School in New York City, one of the world's most prestigious performing arts conservatories.
The artists will showcase their talents in 14 performances and participate in outreach programs in five counties throughout the Augusta-Aiken area, said Sandra Field, the president of Juilliard in Aiken board of trustees.
The kick-off concert for the festival on March 5 will present the piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, alumni of The Juilliard School who are returning a second year by popular demand. The concert is a partnership with the Etherredge Center Cultural Series, Field said.
Other artists performing during the week include Paul Jacobs, a renowned organist and chairman of the organ department at The Juilliard School.
The Claire Bryant and Friends string quintet will perform on Saturday at the Jabez Hardin Performing Arts Center in Evans. The performance is a partnership between Juilliard in Aiken and the Symphony Orchestra Augusta Columbia County Music Series. The quintet includes alumni of The Juilliard School and The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and Weill Music Institute, she said.
"This is the first year that we have partnered with the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, and we're very pleased to have done so," Field said.
Since Juilliard in Aiken's first festival three years ago, the performing arts festival has more than doubled the number of artists participating.
During its first year, the festival had only 17 Juilliard artists and six concerts, she said.
Because of the success of the previous two festivals, Juilliard in Aiken has added two days. It will also incorporate new genres of performing arts to include artists from all three divisions of The Juilliard School.
In addition to music, the festival will feature dance and theater with a performance by Juilliard Dance and a cabaret act from Juilliard Drama, Field said.
Greg Smith and Steve Naifeh, co-chairmen of the Juilliard in Aiken board of trustees, bequeathed their winter colony home, Joye Cottage in Aiken, to The Juilliard School in 1996. The festival is an outgrowth of that relationship between the Aiken community and The Juilliard School, Field said.
"This is the only community in the world with which Juilliard has this kind of relationship. These artists not too long ago were playing at Carnegie Hall. They've played all over the world," Smith said.
During the festival, artists will also conduct workshops, master classes and interactive performances for school children in Aiken, Richmond, Columbia, Greenville and Edgefield counties.
"We'll have over 3,000 students involved in our outreach activities during the week," Field said.
The relationship with The Juilliard School has grown into an arts residency program throughout the year.
As an extension of the Performing Arts Festival, the artists spend time in Aiken performing concerts and doing outreach in the Augusta-Aiken community. During their visit, they reside at Joye Cottage, Smith said.