Joye in Aiken Reaches 10-Year Milestone


In 2009, Joye in Aiken (then known as Juilliard in Aiken) produced its first Festival, with 20 Juilliard artists, five public performances, and a dozen outreach events. Nine Festivals later, the organization is gearing up for celebration of a decade that has brought well over 300 Juilliard artists to Aiken, produced 88 public performances, and almost 200 outreach events that reached more than 26,000 children.

Steve Naifeh, co-founder of Joye in Aiken with the late Gregory White Smith, said the anniversary was a chance to thank both The Juilliard School and the Aiken community for the support that has enabled the program to grow and thrive.

“We’re deeply grateful to everyone on both sides of the relationship,” Naifeh said. “Juilliard continues to be helpful in every possible way. And without the local government officials, businesses and individual supporters who have given so generously of their funds and their time, there wouldn’t be a Joye in Aiken today.”

Joye in Aiken President Sandra Field said that to honor Aiken’s history with Juilliard, the 2018 Festival would put that connection front and center March 9 –16. The Festival Week will include performances by Juilliard415, the school’s renowned historical performance ensemble (familiar to Aiken audiences through 2014’s Saint Matthew Passion); pianist Angie Zhang, a current student in Juilliard’s Masters program, specially selected by the school for this anniversary celebration; Paul Jacobs, the internationally revered chair of Juilliard’s Organ Department; and a host of Juilliard alumni, including previous Festival favorites Riley Mulherkar, Charles Yang, and Peter Dugan.

Other ensembles in the lineup also include Juilliard artists among their members or were selected by Joye in Aiken’s Juilliard-trained curators. The world-famous St. Lawrence String Quartet will bring its hugely entertaining style to the free Midday Music series; brass ensemble The Westerlies takes the stage with amazing South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe. Last year’s popular Joye of Jazz at The Willcox will return with a newly-added jazz brunch featuring the Shenel Johns Trio; an afternoon performance by Mona’s Hot Four; and an evening performance by Sammy Miller and the Congregation. In a much-anticipated repeat performance, sensational crossover strings trio Time for Three (a smash hit at the Green Boundary Club last year) will headline the Finale Concert.

As always, the participating artists will visit schools and conduct a full week of interactive concerts and master classes for area students. Three to four thousand students are expected to participate, at grade levels from elementary school to high school. In 2016, Joye in Aiken was awarded the state’s highest honor in the arts, the Verner Award, for its Educational Outreach Program.

Field said Joye in Aiken would be celebrating the anniversary milestone with a “Paint the Town Red” campaign in Aiken’s downtown, featuring banners, balloons and fountains in the color of the organization’s logo.

“We hope everyone will celebrate the success of these ten years with us,” Naifeh said. “The Festival and Outreach Program belong to this community, because it’s the community that’s invested in it and made it what it is. We can’t wait to see what wonderful things will happen in the future.”

Tickets for Festival performances go on sale to the general public on February 1, 2018. For further information, visit

Joye in Aiken Reaches 10-Year Milestone | Aiken Bella Magazine
The Westerlies
Joye in Aiken Reaches 10-Year Milestone | Aiken Bella Magazine
Angie Zhang
Joye in Aiken Reaches 10-Year Milestone | Aiken Bella Magazine
Time For Three
Joye in Aiken Reaches 10-Year Milestone | Aiken Bella Magazine
Charles Yang