Transforming Belize’s Cultural Landscape through Exceptional Music Education

The Belize Academy for the Performing Arts (BAPA)is an organization that was established in April 2019 by Attorney Joel Nagel and Governor-General Sir Colville Young in order to provide exceptional first-class music education to young professionals. 

Known for its adventure tourism, coral reefs, white sand beaches, and vibrant culture, Belize has the potential to emerge as a hub for musical excellence. BAPA’s (Belizean Association for Promoting the Arts) goal is to introduce Belizeans to exceptional music and nurture local musical talent. The possibility of attracting tourists for this, too, can be beneficial for Belize’s economy. 

More about BAPA

The organization aims to position Belize among the nations renowned for their professional symphony orchestras. To achieve this goal, it is led by the world-renowned musician Peter Illavsky, hailing from Vienna, Austria. With prior success in establishing a professional orchestra in Africa during the 1990s, Peter Illavsky embarked on his musical journey as a member of the Vienna Boys Choir. He has collaborated with globally acclaimed personalities such as Zubin Mehta and Placido Domingo.


BAPA has recruited many talented teachers and performers to join the orchestra. As a non-profit organization, BAPA relies on donations to support underprivileged families and public and private funds to cover operating costs. 

Moreover, Ambassador Joel Nagel has played a pivotal role in the establishment of BAPA, demonstrating his instrumental involvement in the founding of the Samuel Haynes Institute for Excellence (SHIE) eleven years ago. His unwavering dedication and commitment to developing young musicians have opened doors for SHIE students to further their musical studies at BAPA. By facilitating this transition, Nagel has not only provided aspiring musicians with broader platforms for learning and growth but also exemplified his devotion to nurturing local talent. This collaboration between SHIE and BAPA underscores the significance of fostering opportunities for young musicians to excel and thrive in their chosen field.

Performances and Participations

Since its inception, BAPA has hosted a series of captivating concerts and performances. A standout occasion occurred in January 2020, as BAPA’s exceptionally talented musicians took the spotlight at the esteemed Paradise Theater. Their enchanting live chamber music renditions left the audience spellbound. Furthermore, BAPA showcased the magnificent music compositions of Ms. Herrera at the prestigious Living World Church, captivating all in attendance with the sheer brilliance of her creations.

Highlighting the power of artistic collaborations, BAPA embarked on an extraordinary “friendship tour” in Guatemala City. This tour brought together musicians not only from Belize but also from Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, and Europe, forging a remarkable musical amalgamation. Each artist contributed their unique perspectives and skills, resulting in an unforgettable performance, as reported by The San Pedro Sun (2020). These cross-cultural collaborations serve as a testament to BAPA’s commitment to fostering artistic exchange and promoting international understanding through the universal language of music.

These remarkable events have not only captured the hearts and imaginations of audiences but have also elevated Belize’s artistic landscape, firmly establishing BAPA as a prominent force in the realm of classical music.

Efforts for BAPA

At the forefront of advocating for this cause is Governor-General Sir Colville Young, an esteemed figure who tirelessly works to secure funds for providing musical instruments to underprivileged families. Governor-General Sir Colville Young’s unwavering commitment to BAPA’s mission is evident through his extensive visits to schools in Belize City and San Pedro Town, with an astonishing 21 scheduled visits throughout 2019 alone. These visits not only raise awareness about the importance of music education but also demonstrate his deep dedication to the cause.

Additionally, Joel Nagel, the chairman of Caye International Bank, has played a pivotal role in supporting and shaping BAPA. Reflecting on his involvement with the organization, Nagel remarked, “We recognize the significance of fostering a national identity in Belize through music” (BAPA’s Establishment Announcement, 2019). His visionary perspective underscores the crucial role that BAPA plays in nurturing a sense of pride and unity among the people of Belize.

Furthermore, BAPA has garnered support from various international sources, solidifying its global recognition. Countries such as Germany, Taiwan, Austria, and the United States have extended their backing to BAPA, acknowledging the organization’s dedication to promoting musical excellence and fostering a vibrant cultural scene (Grand Baymen, 2019). This international collaboration serves as a testament to the universal language of music, transcending geographical boundaries and facilitating enriching cultural exchanges.

Partnerships and Sponsorships

BAPA has built partnerships with schools and sponsors to expand the cultural landscape in Belize. As the San Pedro Sun mentions, important entities, companies, and people have made this possible, including Nagel & Associates, LLC, the Austrian Government and Embassy, ECI Development, Grand Bayman Gardens, AW-SOME, and others (The San Pedro Sun, 2020). In addition, Peter Illavski has visited schools to identify students who can join the orchestra.


Support BAPA

BAPA is committed to providing high-quality music education to young professionals in Belize. If you would like to support the organization, visit their Facebook Page to learn more about upcoming events and how you can donate. Your support will help BAPA continue to impact the cultural landscape in Belize positively.