Gregory White Smith, one of the co-founders of the Juilliard in Aiken festival, thrived for decades longer than expected after being diagnosed with a rare brain cancer.
So it’s fitting that the first festival since Smith’s death at age 62 last April is based on the theme “Make Miracles Happen.” The eight-day event begins Saturday, March 7, and continues through March 15. The festival’s official memorial celebration for Smith is on March 14, but in many ways the entire event pays tribute to the man who, with partner Steven Naifeh, started the event in 2009.
The vision behind the festival was to bring the world-class art of New York’s The Juilliard School to as many people in the Aiken area as possible, without regard to circumstance or background.
“Greg believed as I do, and as The Juilliard School does, that great art is transforming,” Naifeh said. “He wanted everyone, everywhere, to have access to it. That’s why all of our performances are either free or low-cost. And it’s why we have such an extensive outreach program.”
This year’s program features Juilliard Dance, Juilliard Jazz, the Allant Trio, the piano duo of Anderson & Roe, baritone Elliott Carlton and the duo of Rachel Kudo on piano and Brandon Ridenour on trumpet.
The Juilliard in Aiken organization’s school outreach has served over 20,000 students, from kindergarten through college.
For the performance and outreach schedules and to purchase tickets, please visit www.juilliardinaiken.com.