Gabrielle Best is the Young Musician of the Year 

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The following is a press release from the Department of Education Services:

Fifteen-year-old St. Ignatius Catholic School student Gabrielle Best was on Saturday evening (8 May) selected as the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year after an intense musical battle between the nine top instrumentalists in the 2021 National Children’s Festival of The Arts (NCFA) preliminary competition. Cellist Greta Ecke, also of St. Ignatius, was named runner up.

Gabrielle was at a loss for words when asked how she felt having won the competition. “I am shocked! I really did not expect to win, but I’ve now realised that the mark scheme is not only about getting the notes right but also your use of artistry and emotion.”

The competition held at the Prospect Playhouse was adjudicated by esteemed music educators Mr. Glen Inanga, Ms. Stephanie Williams and Ms. Sue Horrocks.  Prior to announcing the top two musicians, Mr. Inanga outlined the selection process. “When judging instruments, we look at the entire package; the technicality, the musicality and the communication with the audience. Many of these come with the maturity and confidence to see beyond the technical phrases, to perform, and tell the piece of music as a story.”

Ms. Horrock concurred, adding, “The contestants all did a tremendous job, especially with everything that has been going on and the disruptions to their studies. It makes it even sweeter to see this fantastic level of performance and musicianship.”

Other finalists included 13-year-old violinist, John Gray High School student Thian Bodden, 16-year-old steel pan player, Clifton Hunter High School graduate and St. Ignatius Catholic School student Ruby Pileta, classical pianists, Marvin Brenes Araica of Cavalry Baptist Christian Academy, Chesskamea Daniels and Crystal Corkish from Cayman Prep & High School, flutist Aysa Ebanks, and clarinetist 16-year-old Kathleen Bennett.

DES Acting Customer Service Manager Mrs. Gloria Bell, used the opportunity to thank the sponsors and other partners for their support. “Thanks to the Bank of Butterfield and the Cayman Arts Festival for their continued support of the development of the Performing Arts in the Cayman Islands. Thanks also to the teachers and families who supported our young musicians as they prepared for this competition.”

Also applauding educators and families for their support, Bank of Butterfield (Cayman) Limited’s Managing Director, Mr. Michael McWatt, expressed his pride at the programme’s return. “I am greatly appreciative and proud to see the return of the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year after a necessary hiatus due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. I want to congratulate our finalists who performed on Saturday evening. I thank you all for sharing your talents with us and wish you all the best in your future endeavours.”

For more details about the Young Musician of the Year Competition and other DES programmes, contact DES Senior Customer Service Officer Nicki Samuels by telephone at 945-1199 or by email at or SSIO/Acting Customer Service Manager Mrs. Gloria Bell by telephone at 926-9727, or 945-1199 or by email at

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