News & Reviews

New classical music group plans September festival
July 14, 2012

BY GREG STEPANICH (Knight Arts Miami)

http://www.knightarts.org/community/miami/new-classical-music-group-plans-september-festival

Scratch the surface of the South Florida classical music community and you can find any number of people who want to establish arts institutions with regularly occurring features: a chamber music series, orchestral concerts, pocket operas, piano recitals.

Today’s example is the Venezuelan-born pianist and educator Adolfo Vidal, 38, who grew up in home country’s now-legendary El Sistema music program, came to the United States in 1996, and has taught for years at Miami-Dade College and Florida International University.

This September, Vidal’s 15-month-old nonprofit, the South Florida Friends of Classical Music, will present its first big event, the Miami World Music Festival, a series of concerts devoted to the music of a specific country and featuring some of the region’s best-known performers.

“I know so many good musicians here who have master’s degrees, doctorates, even post-doctorates,” Vidal said. “And they’re not working. They’re not playing, and when I ask them why, they say there are no opportunities to do anything. And this is something that I really want to fix.”

The concerts begin Sept. 13 with a performance by the Miami Chamber Players, a new group that will include a rotating series of area musicians, Vidal said. All the performances will be at the Wertheim Concert Hall on the FIU campus.

The first program centers on the music of Germany, and J.S. Bach in particular, featuring two of his Brandenburg Concerti (No. 3 in G, No. 6 in B-flat). Performers include familiar area players such as Miami Symphony concertmaster Daniel Andai and Delray String Quartet violinist Tomas Cotik, violist Viera Borisova and cellist Ashley Garritson. The program also includes the Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, of Brahms, with Vidal himself at the piano.

The celebrated timba band Tiempo Libre does the Cuban program on Sept. 14, and the Miami Guitar Trio, with guest artist Rafael Padron, is in the spotlight Sept. 15 for a program of music from Spain. Pianists Kemal Gekic and Margarita Shevchenko perform the two piano suites of Sergei Rachmaninov for an all-Russian afternoon Sept. 16, and that evening, the bandoneon master Hector Del Curto presents a program devoted to the tango and music of Argentina.

The Friends project also includes other programs under its umbrella.

The Miami International Music Academy is a program for pianists, in which seven promising young pianists get the opportunity to study with professionals such as Ivan Davis and Susan Starr, as well as Shevchenko, Tian Ying, Roberta Rust, and composer JB Floyd. Vidal said the new academy has five students and will aim for the full complement of seven in the months to come.

“We want to train these kids to be at a professional level,” he said, and their free training includes master classes.

The academy’s youth program also offers free music classes every Saturday in conjunction with the north campus of Miami-Dade College. Now in its third semester, the classes are designed for intermediate and advanced students, and focus on solfège and music theory, Vidal said.

“It’s been very successful,” he said. “We’re interested in getting them to know more theory.”

The piano is also the focus of another Friends program, the Teresa Carreño International Master Piano Competition, planned for November 2013. The contest is named after Carreño, a Venezuelan pianist and composer who had a major international career in the last half of the 19th century. Vidal said plans for the competition are still preliminary.

“There is now a music competition in Caracas, but it’s only for Latin America. This is going to be international,” he said.

Another project in the initial stages of planning is the Florentine Camerata Society, in which the Friends will meet at Coral Gables’ Café Demetrio for discussions about art and life. “I need more people for that,” he said. “But it’s going to be fun.”

Ultimately, though, the reason for creating the Friends of Classical Music was in order to be an integral element of the music scene and South Florida cultural life in general.

“We need to be part of the community. We need to help,” Vidal said.

For more information, visit the Friends website, call 786-259-0508, or send an email to info@friendsofclassicalmusic.org.