St. Barts Music Festival
Saint Barthélemy, as it happens, has a lot more to offer than stunning white-sand beaches, best-in-class Caribbean dining, and upscale shopping.
It’s also an amazing place for music and art! That’s true anytime, given the regular live music and DJ-driven nightlife easy to come by on the “Jewel of the Caribbean.” But this little, lovely Caribbean isle takes things to the next level each January when it hosts the St. Barts Music Festival. This three-week classical music festival features daily performances across the island in intimate venues, including churches, schoolyards and beaches.
Are you considering taking in next year’s St. Barts Music Festival?
We’ll post the specific dates for 2024 as soon as they’re available.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about the 2023 event to more fully appreciate the caliber of the Caribbean’s top classical music festival.
St Barts Music Festival - A Short History
Variety of dance acts at the St Barth Music Festival © www.stbartsmusicfestival.org
Since 1985, St. Barts has hosted a performing arts festival unlike any other in the world. Each year during January, audiences are treated to intimate concerts by some of the world’s most prominent classical, opera, ballet, and jazz stars.
These performers have the level of artistry typically showcased at Carnegie Hall in New York or the Opera Garnier in Paris.
By day, visitors enjoy the beaches and world-class duty-free shopping in the port of Gustavia. By night, they relax in quaint local churches and community halls for some of the best music and dance performances you’ll ever see on a Caribbean island.
Highlights From the 39th Annual St. Barts Music Festival in January 2023
Artists from such prestigious organizations as the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the Bolshoi Ballet have journeyed to St. Barts this January for the occasion. The 2023 festival, marking the 39th edition, was yet another exquisite success.
No surprise that this year’s St. Barts Music Festival — which ran January 6 to 18, 2023 — magnificently upheld the event’s decades-long standard! Here’s an overview of the schedule.
St. Barts Music Festival 2023: Schedule
The following briefly summarizes the daily concerts that made up the 2023 St. Barts Music Festival, including locations, times, and ticket prices, where applicable.
Friday, January 6, 2023: Opening Night Concert (7 PM—Gustavia Church)
The Opening Night Concert featured a trio consisting of violinist Gill Shahan, cellist Kyril Zlotnikov, and pianist Inon Barnatan. They performed works by Debussy, Mendelssohn, and Fauré. ($90)
Monday, January 9, 2023: Free Children’s Program (6 PM—Anglican Church)
This children’s concert featured the St. Barth Suzuki Harmony School along with guest performers: violinist Siena Ruske, pianist Jordan Manasse, and clarinetist Alec Manasse. (Free)
Tuesday, January 10, 2023: Small Chamber Concert (7 PM—Gustavia Church)
The Tuesday Small Chamber Concert included pieces by Mendelssohn, Brams, Arensky, and Krogulski. ($40)
Wednesday, January 11, 2023: Orchestra Concert (7 PM—Lorient Church)
Maestro Kensho Watanabe conducted the festival’s orchestra concert, which kicked off with the Overture to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. The program also featured masterpieces from Bach, Dvorák, Wieniawski, and Stravinsky. ($40)
Thursday, January 12, 2023: Small Chamber Concert (7 PM—Gustavia Church)
The Thursday night Small Chamber Concert saw the String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111 by Johannes Brahms performed alongside the works of Bottesini and Dvorák. ($40)
Friday, January 13, 2023: Opera Concert (8 PM—Lorient Church)
A night of opera at Lorient Church had Maestro Steven Mercurio — aided by soprano Sarah Joy Miller, tenor David Miller, and baritones Luis Ledesma, Steven LaBrie, and Edward Parks — present a diverse program with works by Bellini, Morricone, Rossini, Mozart, and others. ($75)
Saturday, January 14, 2023: Stelios’ All-Star Revue (6:30 PM—Anglican Church)
John Ellis served as the Master of Ceremonies for a concert sponsored by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation. The diverse performers included soprano Sarah Joy Miller, pianist Danielle Orlando, and tenor Luis Ledesma. Featured works included Prokoffiev’s Piano Sonata No. 4 and Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for Violin Duo & Piano. ($30)
Sunday, January 15, 2023: Jazz With the John Ellis Band (5 PM—Anglican Church)
The 2023 St. Barts Music Festival wound down in style with Sunday jazz presided over by New York City saxophonist/bandleader John Ellis and his able quintet. ($50)
Top Musicians Performing at the 2023 St. Barts Music Festival
Featured musicians of the 2023 St. Barts Music Festival included dozens of virtuosos, many of them veterans of the festival. We’ll spotlight just a few of the top names in 2023’s music-making:
Inon Barnatan © www.stbartsmusicfestival.org
The New York Times has called Tel Aviv-born, NYC-based Inon Barnatan “one of the most admired pianists of his generation.” In 2022, Barnatan released a recording of Beethoven’s cello sonatas with Alisa Weilerstein.
Tenor saxophonist John Ellis is well-known for composing, collaborating, and helming jazz groups. He’s headlined at the Newport Jazz Festival and boasts more than a dozen albums as a bandleader.
Kentuckian Tessa Lark ranks among the most thrilling violinists of her generation, with talents extending from the classical tradition to first-rate bluegrass fiddling. In 2020, she received one of Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist Awards and a Grammy nomination.
David & Sarah Joy Miller
The married Millers are among the many performers who were making return appearances at the St. Barts festival this go-round. David Miller is an American tenor with an illustrious resume and well-known as a member of the Il Divo quartet. Soprano Sarah Joy Miller is a lauded rising star who’s sung in the Three Graces trio and will appear at the Bolshoi Theater this season.
Gill Shaham © www.stbartsmusicfestival.org
Shaham is a world-renowned, Grammy Award-winning American violinist known, among other things, for recording the complete sonatas and partitas for the solo violin of J.S. Bach.
Up-and-coming conductor Kensho Watanabe has already earned slews of plaudits for work in both the symphonic and operatic fields. He’s conducted with such well-regarded ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic.
A Taste of the St. Barts Music Festival
Be sure to check out the video below from the 2018 St. Barts Music Festival for a sense of what a typical performance is like.
Noted Sponsors of the St Barts Music Festival
WIMCO Villas and St Barth Properties have both supported the music festival since its inception. These leading villa rental companies support the festival by providing complimentary housing in private villas strewn around the hills of St Barts.
While staying in these villas the musicians and performers have access to WIMCO’s signature 24/7 concierge services team.