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Belize Will Soon Have a World-Class Orchestra

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Joel Nagel and Governor-General Sir Colville Young Announced Launch of Belize Academy of the Performing Arts

It was a very exciting day in late April when attorney Joel Nagel and Belize Governor-General Sir Colville Young announced the launch of the Belize Academy of the Performing Arts (BAPA). The academy will develop Belize’s unique musical heritage, serve as an incubator for musical talent in the country’s schools, and form the infrastructure for the creation of a Belize symphony. In addition, the governor-general, who will serve as BAPA’s honorary chairman, hopes to engender within the people of Belize love and support for first-class classical musical performances.

BAPA will be managed by Peter Illavsky, a prominent musician from Vienna, Austria who has performed with some of the world’s greats, including Placido Domingo and Zuben Mehtah.

Illavsky has undertaken a somewhat similar venture in the past in South Africa, which led to the development of an exceptional orchestra that has performed throughout Europe.

Building Upon Belize’s Musical Heritage

Nagel, Young, and Illavsky envision an institution that will build upon a culturally rich foundation of musical styles, brought to Belize by its immigrant population. Fusing these sounds with the traditions of classical music is intended not only to build an affinity for this type of music among future artists but to create a musical establishment that will be unique to Belize.

Nagel said that assistance is already coming in from Taiwan, the United States, Germany, and Austria. He added that these funds will help teachers at BAPA cultivate the talents of Belizean students to become members of a local symphony orchestra. Professional musicians and teachers have arrived from Europe, the United States, and Mexico to join in this effort and will remain with the academy until native Belizean young people reach the level of full-time professionals.

While Illavsky will be responsible for managing all the operational aspects of BAPA, Joel Nagel has taken on the task of raising the funds for the academy. He is securing financial support from foundations and corporations that will help get the project off the ground and ensure sustainability into the future.

It helps to have the governor-general on board for such an important and ambitious project. At the announcement, Governor-General Young spoke about his personal goal of ensuring that all Belizean children have equal access to music education. He is working to raise money to cover the costs of instruments for children who cannot afford their own.

Generating Interest Among the Local Population

Illavsky is visiting high schools across Belize, particularly in Belize City and San Pedro Town, to discuss the academy and to generate enthusiasm for participation in the orchestra. Joel Nagel observed that the only way to ensure sustainability for BAPA is to identify and develop talent among school children. In this way, there will be generations of professionally trained musicians to fill the chairs of the Belize Symphony.