Author Archives: organiste

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Dec 12, 8pm Smokie Norful – A Holiday Concert Miramar Cultural Center ? ArtsPark, Miramar

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http://smokienorful.com/

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Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation 2015-2016 Season

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New! Widor Documentary Video – RavenCD

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RavenCD.com

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A HOLIDAY TRADITION OF ANGELIC SOUNDS MCC in Annual Holiday Concert Voices of Angels

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A HOLIDAY TRADITION OF ANGELIC SOUNDS
MCC in Annual Holiday Concert Voices of Angels

Coral Gables, FL – November 18, 2015 – The Miami Children’s Chorus will present its annual holiday concert – Voices of Angels – Sat., Dec. 12th, 7:00PM at the First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way.
The choristers of the MCC continue their celebration of the 50th Anniversary with a concert of traditional and new holiday fare. Fresh off a “standing-room-only” presentation at the Arsht Center this group promises to make your holiday a celebratory event. Songs to be performed include holiday favorites Hark! The Herald Angel Sing; Silent Night and a moving O Come, O Come Immanuel as arranged by Natalie Sleeth. New holiday music by Mark Sirett
Hodie Alleluia and the duo Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory If Wishes Had Wings also receive a high artistic recreation by the children of the MCC.

Tickets for this event – Voices of Angels – Sat., Dec. 12th, 7:00PM are available now and can be purchased by visiting the MCC web site www.miamichildrenschorus.org or by calling the MCC Office at 305.662.7494. The cost is $25 General Admission | $10 Children (age 5-18),
MCC Alumni & Senior Citizens. 

Your holiday will not be complete without experiencing the heavenly sounds of the Miami Children’s Chorus in Voices of Angels. Get your tickets now to ensure your seat.

ABOUT THE MCC
The Miami Children’s Chorus is a not-for-profit community arts organization
specializing in choral music education and performance for children age 8-18 in Miami-Dade County. In three levels of ensemble – beginning, intermediate and advanced – MCC provides weekly rehearsals where children practice the life-long skills of commitment, respect for self and others, and the rewards of a dedicated effort while learning the skills and techniques necessary for healthy vocal production, musicianship and artistry.

MCC has performed with PBS favorite André Rieu, the Cleveland Orchestra, Israeli Chamber Orchestra, Florida Grand Opera, Gloria Estefan and made a Super Bowl appearance with Queen Latifah. One could say with confidence that the MCC unites voices to change lives.

Recent alum Edmond Rodriguez commented on his experience in the MCC: “MCC has molded my respect for others and myself. Being forced to trust those around me, I learned that respect stems from understanding the direction in which a group of musicians choose to pursue. Music has the power to take us to another dimension of communication, and MCC exposed me to that concept from the very beginning. MCC teaches you how to be social, passionate and caring. For me, MCC distinguished the difference between good and great, and I am so grateful to have been a part of this community. It will be a part of me forever.” Edmond is now a freshman in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. As a freshman he was selected by audition to sing in the USC Chamber Singers – the highest level of ensemble on the USC campus.

The Miami Children’s Chorus is supported in part by the Miami-Dade County
Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Affairs Council; Citizens Interested in Arts, Inc., and Symphonettes.

1533 Sunset Drive, Suite 215 • Coral Gables, FL 33143 • ph: 305.662.7494 • fax: 305.662.7495
e-mail: info@miamichildrenschorus.org • www.miamichildrenschorus.org

If you’d like more information about the Miami Children’s Chorus, or to schedule an interview with Music Director, Timothy A. Sharp, contact the MCC at 305.662.7494 or via e-mail at tsharp@miamichildrenschorus.org.
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Dec 12, 6:30pm VIP Reception; 8pm Concert NICOLE HENRY – 3rd Annual Winter Concert to Benefit Miami Children's Initiative – Colony Theatre, Miami Beach

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NICOLE HENRY

3rd Annual Winter Concert to Benefit Miami Children’s Initiative

Presented by Your South Florida BMW Centers

Saturday, December 12 – Colony Theatre, Miami Beach

6:30pm VIP Reception / 8pm Concert

 

For Tickets: Click here

Internationally acclaimed vocalist and 2013 Soul Train Award winner, Nicole Henry returns to the Colony Theatre for her third annual winter concert to benefit the Miami Children’s Initiative. Ms. Henry possesses a potent combination of dynamic vocal abilities, impeccable phrasing, and powerful emotional resonance.  Her passionate, soulful voice and heart-felt charisma have earned her three Top-10 U.S. Billboard and HMV Japan jazz albums, and rave reviews both domestically and internationally by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Japan Times, El Pais, Jazz Times, Essence and more.

Miami Children’s Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on transforming Liberty City into a prosperous community by transforming the lives of children and working to help families obtain the resources they need to raise strong and achieving children.

“…a paragon of perfection. The voice that pours out of her is even more impressive… the vocal love-child of Whitney Houston and Sarah Vaughan.” – Miami Herald

“…that predicted time of greatness has arrived. Nicole Henry emerges hands down as this generation's First Lady of Jazz. She is the genuine article, the dream at last come true…” – Huffington Post

 

“…a pop-soul superwoman.” – The New York Times

www.NicoleHenry.com

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Chameleon Musicians make Chamber Music Magic Chameleon String Trio November 29, 2015 at 3pm

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CHAMELEON
MUSICIANS

 

Chameleon Musicians make Chamber Music Magic

Chameleon
String Trio

November
29, 2015 at 3pm

The Sunday
after thanksgiving…

 

Violinist
Misha Vitenson (Russia), violist Michael Klotz (USA) and cellist Iris van Eck
(the Netherlands) have prepared a program you do not want to miss.

This program will take you on
a journey from Bach to one of Bach’s greatest admirers; the composer Max Reger.

On the program:

Bach: Fifteen inventions (Sinfonias) for string trio

Kodaly intermezzo

Muczynsky: string trio opus 31

Reger: Trio for violin, viola
and cello No.1 in A minor, Op.77b (1904)

 

A champagne
reception for all attendees will conclude the concert.

 

The concert, as always
will be at the Josephine S. Leiser Opera Center

221 S.W. 3rd Avenue – Fort
Lauderdale, FL 33312
Valet Parking for a Small Fee

Purchase tickets: https://www.theartsticketingsolutions.com/chameleonmusic/chameleon-string-trio/146

 

CONTACT:

(954) 761-3435

Email:
Chameleon@gsta.net
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/ChameleonMusicians 

Website:www.ChameleonMusicians.org
Brochure:
http://www.chameleonmusicians.org/1516%20brochure%20Fabulous%2014th.pdf

The
other concerts:

January 24 FRENCH FANTASY 

https://www.theartsticketingsolutions.com/chameleonmusic/french-fantasy/147 
March 20 MUSIC FOR FOUR OR MORE 

https://www.theartsticketingsolutions.com/chameleonmusic/works-for-four-or-more/148

April 17: SEASON FINALE  

https://www.theartsticketingsolutions.com/chameleonmusic/season-finale/151



ZARZUELA MASTER CLASSES, PERFORMANCE WITH BORJA MARIÑO ON TAP AT FIU; PILY DE LA ROSA TO BE HONORED

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ZARZUELA MASTER CLASSES, PERFORMANCE WITH BORJA MARIÑO ON TAP AT FIU; PILY DE LA
ROSA TO BE HONORED

 

Viva La Zarzuela,” master classes for singers, followed by a concert featuring
world-class zarzuela coach Borja Mariño, are planned for Dec. 16, 17 and 18 at
the Wertheim Performing Arts Center at Florida International University in
Miami.

 

The event will be a collaboration between West Palm Beach-based Opera
Fusion, a fledgling artist-driven company that plans performances by local
artists at venues around South Florida, and the Florida International
University School of Music.

 

Mariño will hear and coach up to 30 singers performing zarzuela repertoire
during the master classes on Dec. 16 and 17, and will accompany the finalists
who will perform in a zarzuela concert on Dec. 18.  The concert will be a tribute to Pily de la
Rosa, a founder of Sociedad Pro-Arte Grateli in Miami.

 

All three days of events are open to the public. Times and ticket
prices are 2-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. for the Dec. 16 and 17 master classes, with
$10 admission, and 8 p.m. for the Dec. 18 concert, with $38 admission.

 

Mariño is coming to South Florida at the request of Opera Fusion
president Dr. Xavier Garcia, a baritone and West Palm Beach veterinarian who
has studied zarzuela under him in Madrid. “Mariño is one of the best in the
world in this repertoire,” Garcia said. “He’s worked with the top performers in
the world.”

 

At the Dec. 18 zarzuela concert at FIU, de la Rosa of Miami will be
honored as a co-founder, in 1971, and the current president of the nonprofit
Sociedad Pro-Arte Grateli in Miami.  “She
is being honored for her many years of work to keep the art form of zarzuela
alive in the United States,” Garcia said.

 

Another dignitary at the Dec. 18 concert will be Cándido Creis
Estrada, the consul general of Spain, who is based in Miami.  He will present de la Rosa, who is now 89,
with her award.

 

Spanish-born Mariño is a vocal coach, composer, musicologist and
pianist who has accompanied luminaries of the international opera scene.  He is currently on the faculty of the Escuela
Superior de Canto in Madrid.  For the
master class singers and FIU staff, “what a privilege to work with someone who’s
of that caliber,” said Vindhya Khare, FIU area coordinator for vocal studies.

 

During the master classes on Dec. 16 and 17, pianist Jesus Garcia
Ruspoli will accompany
the zarzuela singers.  Ruspoli is well known to Miami audiences with his over thirty years of
performing in the area.

 

Zarzuela, which has existed since the 17th century, spread
from Spain to many of its colonies, and many Hispanic countries – notably Cuba –
developed their own traditions. It is an accessible, colorful, fun and
expressive type of music, said Khare, describing it as “operetta meets the
golden age of Broadway.  There’s a lot of
drama, love triangles.”

 

Khare and Robert Dundas, director of the FIU music department, are working
with Opera Fusion to coordinate the three days of zarzuela events.  Profits will be split between the opera
company and scholarships for FIU music students, said Birgit Fioravante,
executive director of Opera Fusion. 
Singers who want to participate in the master classes with Mariño are
filling out applications that go to Khare, she said.

 

The night’s honoree, Cuban-born de la Rosa, holds a master’s degree in
dramatic arts from the University of Havana. 
She taught acting and dance, served as English-to-Spanish dubbing
director for many Hollywood films at Sound Lab in Miami, hosted and produced
television and radio shows, co-founded nonprofits that brought Cuban and Latin
folklore to the stage, and managed both the artistic and administrative aspects
of Sociedad Pro-Arte Grateli, shepherding it into a first-class theatrical
organization.

 

With their baby daughter, De La Rosa and her husband, Demetrio Menéndez,
came to Florida as exiles from Cuba in 1960, and founded Sociedad Pro-Arte
Grateli in 1971 along with singer Marta Perez, known as La Diva Cubana, and
Miguel de Grandy II, an actor now living in Spain.  Perez died in 2009, and Menéndez died
recently this year.

 

Each of the four founders put in $100, said actress Ana Margo, de la
Rosa’s daughter, and Grateli grew into an organization that at one point held
performances every month at the Miami Dade County Auditorium.  “They really had, at the beginning of their
exile here, the cream of the crop” of actors and conductors from Cuba and
Spain, she said. Today, the nonprofit still mounts three to four shows each
year, and her mother “really is now the one pillar holding up the fort.”

 

Grateli is dedicated to promoting Hispanic
American culture through the theatrical arts. 
Its shows include presentations of Hispanic and American origin
including zarzuelas, operettas, musical comedies, musical festivals and
dramatic presentations.

 

ABOUT THE COMPANY

 

Opera Fusion Inc., a nonprofit artist-driven
company, is based in West Palm Beach and will mount shows throughout South
Florida.  It is beginning its second season.  In its first season, Opera Fusion
successfully put on two musical revues, “The Sopranos: An Opera You Can’
t Refuse” and “Duelling Divas,” as well as two operas, “Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Cosi Fan Tutte/Die
Fledermaus
” in a
summer “bootcamp” workshop.

 

Opera Fusion aims to invite and encourage new
audiences to experience opera and other classical singing by presenting its
performances at intimate and nontraditional venues.

 

Opera Fusion leadership: Birgit Fioravante is
executive director, Dean Peterson is artistic director, Robyn Lamp is
company manager and Dr. Sally Brown is director of education.  The board
of directors comprises West Palm Beach veterinarian and baritone Dr. Xavier
Garcia, president; Lake Worth Playhouse board president Michael McKeich,
treasurer; attorney Joseph R. Fields Jr., secretary; and members Renee
Greenberg, Peter Ludescher, Elizabeth Giles, Emily Pantelides and Richard Gaff.

 

For more about Opera Fusion and its leadership,
visit OperaFusion.org.

 

FAST FACTS: VIVA LA ZARZUELA

 

Tickets can be purchased
through the Box Office at FIU’
s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts
Center, 10910 S.W. 17
th St.,
Miami.  Call the box office at (305)
348-0496 or visit wpac.fiu.edu to purchase tickets.

 

The Three
Events:

 

* Master Class with Borja Mariño on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, from 2-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts
Center, 10910 S.W. 17
th St.,
Miami.  Tickets: $10.

 

* Master Class with Borja Mariño on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, from 2-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m., at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts
Center, 10910 S.W. 17
th St., Miami.
Tickets: $10.

 

* Finalists’
Performance: Tribute to Pily de la Rosa
on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, at 8
p.m., at FIU’
s Wertheim Performing Arts Center, 10910 S.W. 17th St., Miami. Tickets: $38.

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Dec 5, 21h and Dec6, 16h: Orchestre de Lutetia Choeur Aria de Paris – Paris

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Dec 13, 5pm: The Boca Raton Singers Music and CandleLight Crest Theater, Delray Beach

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Handel's Messiah – Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches Dec 13, 5pm: Royal Poinciana Chapel – Palm Beach Dec 19: UM Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches – WPB

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Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches is adding a second Messiah performance due to popular demand.

For the 37th continuous year, The Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches, under the direction of Ken Taylor, will be presenting Handel’s Messiah with orchestra and soloists Ashley Taylor, soprano, Sonia Santiago, mezzo-soprano, Christopher W. Waite, tenor and Neil Nelson, baritone. 

Due to sell-out crowds over the previous years, Masterworks will be adding a second performance location.  Messiah performances will take place on Sunday, December 13th at the Royal Poinciana Chapel 60 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, FL 33480 and on December 19th at the new location at the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches, 900 Brandywine Rd, West Palm Beach, FL 33409. Both concerts begin at 5:00 p.m.  Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. To order tickets, get on a mailing list, support the non-profit organization or for more information, visit www.masterworkspb.org or call 561-845-9696. In June 2015, Masterworks Chorus performed the Messiah at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Dupre Quigley, Artistic Director of Seraphic Fire. 

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Nov 29, 3pm: Chameleon String Trio Fort Lauderdale

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Dec 12, 7pm: Voices of Angels Miami Children's Chorus Annual Holiday Concert First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables

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Dec 12, 7:30pm: Hodie – Renaissance Christmas Sacred Motets and Carols – New York City

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Dec 11, 13: Aventura Center Dec 18, 20: Parker Playhouse The Nutcracker – Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida

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Dec 11, 7:30pm: All Saints Episcopal Church, Fort Lauderdale Dec 13, 4pm: Colony Hotel, Delray Beach Delray String Quartet w/ Marina Radiushina, piano

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Following is a listing of performances and events for New World School of the Arts [NWSA], located in the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, downtown Miami.

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NEW WORLD SCHOOL OF THE ARTS EVENTS – NOVEMBER 2015 

FALL DANCE CELEBRATION

November 20, 21; 7:30 PM

New World Dance Theater

25 NE 2 Street, 8 Floor, Miami

General Admission $10

 

Tickets at nwsa.mdc.edu. Information at 305-237-3341 This
annual program presents outstanding dances performed by NWSA’s talented High
School and College dancers. This year’s program will include works by
professional guest choreographers including Ballet Hispanico Artistic Director
Eduardo Vilaro’s tribute to the life and music of Celia Cruz, Asuka. The
program will present a variety of styles from hip-hop to contemporary and
ballet.

 

 

OPERA SCENES

 

Opera Theatre Ensemble

 

November 22; 7:30 PM

 

Colony Theater

 

1040 Lincoln Road,Miami Beach

 

Free and open to the public

 

Information at 305-237-3622

Enjoy a stroll down Lincoln Road and ultimately find your
way into the Colony Theater for scenes of opera favorites performed by members
of the NWSA Opera Theater Ensemble, directed by Rodney Miller.

 

 

 

COLLEGE CHAMBER MUSIC

 

November 29; 2:00 PM

 

Pinecrest Gardens

 

11000 S. Red Road,Miami

 

Free and open to the public

 

Information at 305-669-6990

 

The skill of chamber music is considered one of the most
important ones to cultivate. Students of the NWSA college music program deliver
personalized interpretations of chamber music masterworks in this important
performance.

 

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Dec 6, 3pm: Gypsy Airs – The Symphonia Boca Raton COME. HEAR. South Florida's World Class Chamber Orchestra Roberts Theater at Saint Andrew's School ? Boca Raton

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Dec 8, 8:15pm and Dec 13, 2pm: Sounds of the Season Symphony of the Americas – Broward Center

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The Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches Expands Messiah Performances

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PRESS RELEASE

Press Contact:

Anne Dichele

annedichele@gmail.com

561.866.3601


Jay Osborne

Board President

404.386.1480

Jay3030@comcast.net

 

Ken Taylor, Artistic Director

561-352-5008

      kennytcd@aol.com    

The
Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches Expands Messiah Performances

Masterworks
Chorus of the Palm Beaches is adding a second Messiah performance due to
popular demand.

 

For the 37th
continuous year, The Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches, under the
direction of Ken Taylor, will be presenting Handel’s Messiah with orchestra and soloists Ashley Taylor,
soprano, Sonia Santiago, mezzo-soprano, Christopher W. Waite, tenor and Neil
Nelson, baritone. Due to sell-out crowds over the previous years, Masterworks
will be adding a second performance location. 
Messiah performances will take place on Sunday, December 13th at the Royal
Poinciana Chapel 60 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, FL 33480
and on December 19th at the new location at the United Methodist
Church of the Palm Beaches, 900 Brandywine Rd, West Palm Beach,
FL 33409
. Both concerts begin at 5:00 p.m.  Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for
students. To order tickets, get on a mailing list, support the non-profit
organization or for more information, visit www.masterworkspb.org or call
561-845-9696. In June 2015, Masterworks Chorus performed the Messiah at
Carnegie Hall under the direction of Dupre Quigley, Artistic Director of
Seraphic Fire.

Masterworks will also offer two additional concerts this
season. The second concert, Choral Gems,
will be held on Sunday, February 21st at the DeSantis Chapel on the campus of
Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach. The program will feature
individual selections from famous composers throughout history including:
Vivaldi’s “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,”
Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Haydn’s “The Heavens are Telling,” Mendelssohn’s
“He, Watching Over Israel,” and many
more. The concert starts at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the
door. The final concert will be Brahms’ A German Requiem (sung in English)
on Sunday, April 10 at 4:00 p.m., also at the DeSantis Family Chapel with
orchestra and soloists.  Tickets are $20
in advance or $25 at the door.  Season
Tickets for three concerts @ $50.00. 

 

 

Masterworks Chorus of the Palm
Beaches has been a part of the cultural scene of Palm Beach County since 1979.  As a non-profit organization, its mission is
to expose its members and the public to the great choral repertoire that has
been composed over the centuries and to enrich and enhance the lives of its
members and the community at large through live performances of these great
choral masterworks. The chorus is composed of volunteer singers. Membership is
by audition only.

Throughout
the years, Masterworks Chorus has performed an extensive repertoire of
classical masterpieces including several Requiems, Gloria, The Creation, Ninth
Symphony, Lord Nelson Mass, Carmina Burana, Stabat Mater, Mass in C Major, Mass
in F, Mass in G, Coronation Anthems, Elijah, and numerous Magnificats. The
Chorus has gone on several tours including trips to England, Eastern Europe,
Western Europe, Italy, Spain, and New York. Members have performed at Carnegie
Hall, Avery Fischer Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York, and at the Kravis
Center in West Palm Beach. In the summer of 2015, the Masterworks Chorus
returned to New York and Carnegie Hall where members joined with other choruses
to sing portions of Handel’s Messiah.

Ken Taylor is in his fourth
year as Artistic Director of the Masterworks Chorus. He has been a music
educator for nearly 30 years and is currently with the Bak Middle School of the
Arts.  He received his Bachelor of
Science degree with a double major in both music education and
music theory from Palm Beach Atlantic College. His choruses have consistently
received superior ratings at district and state choral festivals
since 1991. He has conducted choruses at the National American Choral
Directors Conferences in Miami (2007) and Chicago (2011). In 2014, his
Boys Chorus from Bak performed at the Southern Division ACDA Conference in
Jacksonville. Mr. Taylor is an active adjudicator and clinician for
district music performance assessments throughout the state of Florida. He
recently was selected to conduct the 2009 North Carolina Middle School
All-State Choir and has conducts several county honor choirs throughout the
state of Florida each year. He has twice served as the Florida Vocal
Association District 14 Chairman. He also served as Coordinator for the
FVA All-State SSAA choir for several years. Mr. Taylor holds memberships
in several professional organizations including Florida Music Educator’s
Association, American Choral Director’s Association, and Music Educator’s
National Conference. He served as the Minister of Music at Jog Road
Baptist Church for 22 years.

Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches

 P.O. Box 212

Palm Beach, FL 33480

561.845.9696

MATTHEW SHEPARD STORY TO BE MUSICAL DRAMA TITLED NOT IN MY TOWN; OPERA FUSION LAUNCHES CROWD-FUNDING CAMPAIGN

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MATTHEW SHEPARD STORY TO BE MUSICAL
DRAMA TITLED NOT IN MY TOWN; OPERA FUSION LAUNCHES CROWD-FUNDING CAMPAIGN

 

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — The story of
the events surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college
student who was beaten and left tied to a fence, will be presented as a musical
drama written for the stage by Michael W. Ross of Fort Lauderdale and premiered
by South Florida startup company Opera Fusion Inc.

 

Opera Fusion, based in West Palm
Beach, is launching a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo.com to
raise $150,000 to fund the production of “Not In My Town” and to promote the
performance, which is planned to debut in June 2016.  June was selected
for the premiere because it is recognized as Pride Month for the LGBTQA
community.

 

The
murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation.
Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention
Act in October 2009, and President Obama signed it on Oct. 28, 2009.  

 

The
“Not In My Town” Indiegogo campaign, including a video with music from the
show, can be viewed at
 http://igg.me/at/NotInMyTown/x/12537295

 

The crowd-funding campaign was
launched on Oct. 28, the sixth anniversary of the hate crime bill’s
signing.  The bill, which makes it a federal crime to assault anyone
because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is named for Shepard,
who was attacked in 1998, and for James Byrd, an African-American man dragged
to death in Texas that same year.

 

Two men abducted University of
Wyoming student Shepard, 21, on Oct. 7, 1998, pistol-whipped and tortured him,
and tied him to a fence in a field outside Laramie, Wyo.  After a cyclist
eventually noticed him, the comatose Shepard was taken to a hospital in Fort
Collins, Co., where he died that Oct. 12.  Shepard’s two killers were
sentenced to life in prison.  His parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard,
started the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which is headquartered in Casper, Wyo.

 

The
musical drama addresses bullying, “a subject that’s in the news every day,”
said Opera Fusion president Dr. Xavier Garcia, a baritone and West Palm Beach
veterinarian.  “Our kids are bullied constantly and they are either
killed, or they commit suicide or they are scarred for life. 

 

“Mathew
was killed because he was gay, but Matthew is anyone who has been affected
by a hate crime.”

 

The
title of the musical drama, “Not In My Town,” is a major confrontation scene
and “the crux of the show,” its composer and librettist Ross said.  “But
it's not necessarily about homosexuality.  There are parallels to other
civil rights movements — bullying and prejudice of all types can happen anywhere. 
My subjects involve themes of social injustice and are very personal to me.”

 

In
1998, Ross marched in New York City and participated in a candlelight vigil for
Shepard.  He wrote “Not In My Town” in 2013.  “In 1998, most
Americans were horrified by the senseless beating,” he said. “It may have been
one of the most important turning points in the gay movement since the 1969
Stonewall riots.”

 

In
researching Shepard’s story years later, he said, “I had no idea that his best
friend, Romaine Patterson, stepped up from minimum-wage coffee server to become
an activist and ended up having her own radio show.  I had no idea Rev.
Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist Church) protested not only at Matthew’s
funeral but also at the courthouse entrance where the Shepard family would have
to walk right by signs such as ‘Matt in Hell.’   (Shepard’s two killers
are serving life in prison.)  I did not know that Romaine organized
friends and built 7-foot-high angel wings to stand in front of Rev. Phelps’
protest group so Matthew’s parents weren’t subjected to such disrespect. 
At this point, it was inconceivable that I would not write this opera.

 

“I wrote it because I don’t think
people know what happened after Matthew Shepard died,” Ross said.  “I want
the audience to see that good can come from such a terrible tragedy.”

 

As
part of its campaign to mount “Not In My Town,” Opera Fusion will use the
hashtag #IAmMatthew on social media.

 

“There
are many ways in which we can carry this message,” said Garcia, the
artist-driven opera company’s founder. “ Ours is through our music, through our
voices.  We need our voices to be heard if we are to make a change in this
world.”

 

“As
I child, I wanted to change the world,” Ross said.  “My operas are small
attempts at making it just a little better by shining a light on important
issues.  There is still more work to do regarding tolerance and
legislation.  ‘Don't ask, don't tell’ and DOMA have been overturned and
most recently, same sex-marriage has been declared legal in all 50 states by
the U.S. Supreme Court.  Yet the inevitable backlash appears in the news
every day.

 

 “It
is my belief that ‘art’ should shine a light on our culture, our time and place
in history.  It is ‘art’ that lifts the debate as well as the human
spirit, and changes hearts.  It is in the hearts of men and women that the
real battle is won.” 

 

THE SHOW, AND ITS MUSIC

 

“Not
In My Town” requires seven singing parts, two mute parts, a double chorus and a
nine-piece orchestra.  In keeping with its mission, Opera Fusion will cast
only local singers.  Its budget, which it seeks to raise in the Indiegogo
campaign, is $150,000 to cover production and all promotions.  Four
performances are planned — in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.

 

International
opera star Dean Peterson, artistic director of Opera Fusion, will direct “Not
In My Town.”  The set will be simple and rear projection screens will
enhance the mood and staging. Because the set is easily transportable, the
singers are local, and the orchestra is small, the production cost will be much
lower than that of conventional operas, said Birgit Fioravante, Opera Fusion
executive director.  Performance venues are not yet selected.

 

The
musical drama seemed like the “perfect fit” for Opera Fusion, “considering the
national debate that has raged in the last 20 years as well as the size of the
work,” Fioravante said.  “In addition, Xavier felt a very personal
connection to this work from his own experience as a gay man. 

 

“From
my point of view, this work has everything a new ‘opera’ should have — great
music, great drama, a riveting story, and not too big of an orchestra or set,
so it can move easily from venue to venue, reaching new and differing
audiences.  An added bonus is the tonal palate, which is somewhere between
grand opera and musical theater, giving it a wider appeal than most new works. 
It has the potential to move people much in the same way ‘West Side Story’
first did in its day.”

 

Ross
was both composer and librettist of “Not In My Town,” which allows him
particular flexibility in creating the text.  His music is tonal and
written in English, making it accessible to audiences. “When I sit down to
work, my job is to create a great story with sing-able melodies,” he
said.  “My goal, however, is to entertain and educate the audience while
making them experience a range of emotions.”

 

Peterson
said “Not In My Town” is “a story about prejudice, a story about not allowing
people to be free.

 

“We
all identify with a hero,” he said.  “In this case our heroine, Romaine,
demonstrates fearless heroism in her acts, which brings to all of us the message
of hope.  I don’t believe people necessarily have to know anything about
Matthew Shepard.  However, people should come to the performance
open-minded and ready to be engaged by a very compelling story.”

 

ABOUT
THE COMPOSER

 

Michael
W. Ross, of Fort Lauderdale, holds a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in opera
performance and a master’s degree in music education. His other recent works
include “The Line that Divides,” based on anti-slavery and women’s suffrage
activist Harriet Tubman, and “Yours Truly, Anne,” based on the Holocaust.

 

He
has held positions at New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and The Sylvia
and Danny Kaye Playhouse, and also has sung with the Opera Company of
Philadelphia, New York City Opera, DiCapo Opera and Opera Orchestra of New
York. 

 

After
moving from New York to South Florida in 2004, Ross became the director of
music at the Arts Academy of Hollywood. He accompanies several choral groups,
has a Christmas caroling company, and currently sings with both Florida Grand
Opera and Palm Beach Opera. He teaches private piano and voice on the Ft.
Lauderdale campus of the Pine Crest School. 

 

ABOUT THE OPERA COMPANY

 

Opera Fusion Inc., a nonprofit
artist-driven company, is based in West Palm Beach and will mount shows
throughout South Florida.  It is beginning its second season.  In its
first season, Opera Fusion successfully put on two musical revues, “The
Sopranos: An Opera You Can’t Refuse” and “Duelling Divas,” as well as two
operas, “Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Cosi Fan Tutte/Die Fledermaus” in a summer
“bootcamp” workshop.

 

Opera Fusion aims to invite and
encourage new audiences to experience opera and other classical singing by
presenting its performances at intimate and nontraditional venues.

 

Opera Fusion leadership: Birgit
Fioravante is executive director, Dean Peterson is artistic director,
Robyn Lamp is company manager and Dr. Sally Brown is director of
education.  The board of directors comprises West Palm Beach veterinarian
and baritone Dr. Xavier Garcia, president; Lake Worth Playhouse board president
Michael McKeich, treasurer; attorney Joseph R. Fields Jr., secretary; and
members Renee Greenberg, Peter Ludescher, Elizabeth Giles, Emily Pantelides and
Richard Gaff.

 

For more about Opera Fusion and its
leadership, visit OperaFusion.org.