On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the 29th annual Festival Miami 2012 begins its five-week extravaganza through Nov. 4, featuring a wide spectrum of over 25 music concerts, lectures, and master classes. The event is presented in collaboration with the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and hosts a cornucopia of artistically and culturally diverse performers alongside faculty and the most promising of music students.
While hosting internationally recognized and award winning artists, Festival Miami also mirrors the Frost School of Music’s educational mission by including children’s concerts, master classes, and lectures providing enrichment to the community at large. The concerts are organized into four themed categories including Great Performances, Jazz and Beyond, Creative American Music, and Music of the Americas.
Leon Fleisher opens the festival by conducting the Frost Symphony Orchestra featuring music by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. Other highlights include the Frost Wind Ensemble premiering new works by Jennifer Higdon and Paul Dooley (with Frost percussion faculty Svet Stoyanov as soloist); Grammy Award-winning soprano Ana María Martínez; and Karen Kennedy conducting a massive choral and orchestra of 200 students from the school performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana as the festival’s closing event.
In addition to a Best of Broadway concert, there are two free performances under the banner of Creative American Music: an Emerging Composers concert of new music and a Songwriters Showcase. This category also presents a special children’s concert of the Florida’s Singing Sons Boychoir.
Jazz offerings include performances by award winning artists such as Dave Liebman, Jason Moran, and Roseanna Vitro in the renovated Gusman Concert Hall; as well as George Benson and Freddy Cole with the Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra performing “Unforgettable: A Tribute to Nat King Cole” at the Arsht Center as part of their Larry Rosen’s Jazz Roots series.
One of the more unique categories that Miami celebrates so well is the rich sound of Latin music. Performances include the fusion artists Carlos Oliva y Los Sobrinos del Juez; Brazilian jazz artists, Trio da Paz; two tango concerts in homage to Astor Piazzolla; and a cabaret night with John Secada.Executive Director of Festival Miami and Dean of the Frost School of Music Shelton Berg offered some of his insights into the success and growth of this almost three-decades long festival:
What key ingredient would you attribute for the festival’s longevity and success?
Festival Miami has always been beautifully programmed and curated, from the early days when former Dean Bill Hipp and José Serebrier created it. There is now a rich, 30-year legacy of the world’s greatest artists appearing. The diversity of offerings has also been a constant hallmark, and that is a differentiating factor from many other festivals. There have been many “firsts” in the form of new music commissioned for Festival Miami, including a string quartet by Elliott Carter.
One of the unique components of Festival Miami, due in part to the collaboration with Frost School of Music, is the opportunity for faculty and student composers and musicians to present their work and to interact with internationally known guest artists. How are the school and the university at large enriched by this experience?
The moment that a student first achieves the highest level usually occurs as the result of meeting a challenge. Performing with or composing for a world-class musician is the catalytic event, and Festival Miami has provided that to students on countless occasions. The impact on students is that they learn through the experience that they have “what it takes.” The audience experiences the thrill of watching this exhilarating discovery.
The festival’s mission mirrors that of the Frost School in its emphasis to educate and enrich the local community and a diversity of music lovers of all ages. What is the most positive impact of such outreach, especially over almost three decades?
In making great music accessible, and in providing master classes and lectures about the music and the artists, new generations fall in love with the power of music.
Festival Miami runs from Oct. 2 to Nov. 4; venues include the Gusman Concert Hall at the main campus; the Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus; and the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in downtown Miami. For more information call 305 284-4940 or visit www.festivamiami.com.
This preview first appeared in Miami Sun Post
Photo by MattVashlishan