Illuminating Bannerman Island

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, an innovative mentorship program will bring music, world-class artists and local youth to Hudson Valley’s Bannerman Island this fall.

Presented by the Daisy Jopling Music Mentorship Foundation (DJMMF), which was founded by classical and rock violinist Daisy Jopling and the Bannerman Castle Trust (BCF), a selection of hybrid mentorships – meaning they will take place both in-person and virtually – will enable young students to develop and perform all aspects of a series of upcoming concerts. The performances, titled “Illuminance,” will take place on Bannerman Island through October 4 and will benefit both the Foundation, as well as the Trust, which was created to conserve the island.

The mentorship programs explore diverse topics, including stage management, marketing, lighting design, sound engineering, moonlight photography, drawing, body percussion, dance choreography and musical performance. Students, using the skills learned during their mentorship, will incorporate their new skills into different aspects of the “Illuminance” concerts.

Jopling and artist/educator Thom Johnson, one of the founders of the Bannerman Castle Trust, created the mentorship program to provide students with opportunities in a unique environment. Jopling explains: “Thom felt a project involving students would be perfectly in line with Frank Francis Bannerman IV’s ideals. Bannerman, who built the fantasy-like castle on the island, used to invite kids to the island to spend a wonderful day outside the city.”
“The program is unique in that it allows students to meet and work alongside world-class artists who have many years of experience,” explains Jopling, who is also DJMMF’s Creative Director. For instance, twenty-five students will learn about large-scale lighting design and production with Emmy Award-winner Deke Hazirjian, who is creating a light show on Bannerman Castle and is lighting the musical performances. This mentorship, which consists of both Zoom and in-person lessons, will give students hands-on experience as they assist Hazirjian in setting up the show’s lighting equipment on the island.
Another mentorship has three students working with dancer, performing artist and Peekskill resident Belle Ritter, who will guide them in creating their own dance choreography. A workshop on moonlight photography with fine art photographer Gabriel Biderman will take place on Bannerman Island during and after one of the performances. Twelve other students are taking art and drawing classes with Johnson. To ensure the safety of all the students, mask-wearing and social distancing will be enforced during the rehearsals, workshops and mentorships leading up to the performance.

For Jopling, this mentorship program gives students the skills, knowledge and confidence to pursue their dreams and goals. She explains: “This opportunity for the students leads to life-changing doors opening for them, not only from the contacts they make, but also in what they see possible for their futures.”

A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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