The fifth year for Juilliard in Aiken closed its curtain on Friday with a blow-out celebration.

But, before the performers could take their place on the Etherredge Center stage, Betty Ryberg, Juilliard in Aiken vice chair, brought up Mayor Fred Cavanaugh to the stage.

Together, the two called out from the audience “geniuses of soul” – Juilliard in Aiken founders Greg Smith and Steve Naifeh, Ryberg said.

For “raising the bar” and “enhancing the chances for youth,” Cavanaugh presented Smith and Naifeh a key to City of Aiken.

“Now have fun finding the lock,” he said, much to the audience’s amusement.

Once the applause settled for the two, Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe took the stage, as emcees for the night.

The final performance brought together the historical ensemble Juilliard415; Pisticci String Trio – which performers learned that they got the name from their favorite New York restaurant – and precollege artists Noah Lee, Anna Lee and Naomi Kudo.

Charles Yang and Peter Dugan of the Yang Dugan Duo and five vocalists accompanied by pianist Daniel Fung and Juilliard Jazz appeared.

Anderson and Roe had to “juggle” hosting and performing.

The two have been with Juilliard in Aiken since the beginning and have seen it grow. They both feel the outreach programs, especially, are important.

“It’s helps build confidence,” Roe said. “It’s very healing.”

Smith enjoyed the night, as he has enjoyed working with every aspect of Juilliard in Aiken.

“Everyone worked together to make this happen,” he said. “Steve and I are incredibly grateful to the community. We feel like this has found its home here.”

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