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The Johnny Mercer Foundation and FIU School of Music Advocate Music Education

As part of an ongoing collaboration, The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF), in partnership with Florida International University’s School of Music (FIU), recently hosted a workshop titled “Enriching Your Language Arts and Music Program Through Lyric Writing” at ARTS@FIU Day. The second of these joint ventures designed to enrich music education in Miami-Dade county schools, the Accentuate The Positive (ATP) workshop focused on developing innovative educational opportunities, delivering high-quality instructional materials, and providing professional development opportunities for local music and language arts teachers.

Among those in attendance were the four FIU graduate students pursuing a Master’s in music education through scholarships awarded by JMF — Oliver Diez, Ryan Ellis, Kadhine Gonzalez, and William Jenkins. They are extending the existing curriculum and writing new programs based on the life and works of Johnny Mercer. The fellows are working teachers in the Miami-Dade Public School District at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, overseeing classrooms which are a microcosm of the world-wide diversity present in our area.

Over 12,000 JMF supplemental student activity guides were distributed to the 150 music teachers in attendance, providing invaluable material for instruction and curriculum development in music education. According to Bryan Petorak, the District Supervisor for Performing Arts for the MDCPS, “as the 4th largest school system in the U.S., partnering with outstanding institutions like FIU and the JMF, for innovative music education curriculum, is a natural.” Sari Rose Barron, the Project Director for the Accentuate The Positive Los Angeles program, led the workshop on how to implement the ATP program. Dianne Thurman, JMF Education Committee Chair, spoke about the work of the Foundation and expressed her gratitude to the music teachers who have committed to teach the ATP program.

Also in attendance was Jon Brielle, Vice President of JMF, who was delighted at the success of the mutually beneficial program. Brian Schriner, Dean of FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts, which houses the School of Music, summed up the goodwill engendered by the event, saying “what a perfect fit. FIU joining with JMF has proved to be powerful in so many positive ways. The upside for students interested in pursuing a career in music is incalculable and working with JMF is a definite plus for all involved, students and educators alike.”



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FIU Tuba Professor Named President of the South Florida Musicians Association

It was recently announced that FIU’s long-time tuba/euphonium professor Jay Bertolet will assume a two-year position as President of the South Florida Musicians AssociationAFM Local 655, beginning on January 2, 2015.

The South Florida union was formed in 1913 and represents the interests of professional musicians from Key West to Vero Beach. The union is comprised of recording and freelance musicians who perform at cultural institutions such as the Kravis Center, the Broward Center, and the Jackie Gleason Theater, among many others. 

“I am humbled and honored to be elected to the position of President of AFM Local 655.” said Bertolet. “I’ve been a member of this local for almost 30 years and it gives me great pleasure to offer my efforts to help make the local a valuable resource for the musician community of South Florida.”

In addition to his teaching responsibilities at FIU, Mr. Bertolet is an active freelance performer in the South Florida area. He is Principal Tuba and Cimbasso for the orchestra of the Florida Grand Opera. He serves as the Principal Tuba and Cimbasso for the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Palm Beach Symphony, the Klezmer Company Orchestra, the Symphonia Boca Raton, and Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band. He also plays Cimbasso for productions of Opera Naples and Opera Tampa as well as for the renowned singer Andrea Bocelli. 

To read more about Jay Bertolet, click here.


A community of musicians working together tosouthflorida musicians preserve the culture of music and
promote dignity, fairness, and democracy for musicians.

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FIU Symphony Orchestra Conductor Grzegorz Nowak Appointed Music Director of Orquesta Sinfonica de España

Grzegorz Nowak, director of the FIU Symphony Orchestra and the Conducting Program, has been appointed as the first Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfonica de España, beginning this season.

Grzegorz Nowak began his international career by winning the first prize at the Ernest Ansermet Conducting Competition in Geneva and special honors, including the Grand Prix Patek Philippe, Rolex Prize, Swiss Prize, and American Patronage Prize, and received in Basel the Europäische Förderpreis für Musik for the European Musician of the Year. He honed his skills at Tanglewood on a Serge Koussevitzky Fellowship with such masters as Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Erich Leinsdorf, Igor Markevitch, Maurice Abravanel, and Gustav Meier, before assisting Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then, he has conducted the world’s finest orchestras. In Europe, Grzegorz Nowak has worked with such prestigious ensembles as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, RAI orchestras in Milan, Rome and Turin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, Berliner Symphoniker, Belgian National Orchestra, Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestra of Spain and the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon. He has also conducted many times in Scandinavia, performing with the Philharmonic and Radio orchestras of Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen.

Grzegorz Nowak has served as Music Director of such orchestras as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Polish National Opera in Warsaw, SWR Radio Orchestra in Germany, and Sinfonia Helvetica, and Festival Musique & Amitié Festival in Switzerland. He is Artist-in-Residence at the Florida International University in Miami, was honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award during his tenure as Asst. Professor at the Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and with the title of Honorary Professor from the University of Alberta.

In 2010, Grzegorz Nowak came to FIU from London, where he is the principal associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Audiences will be able to see him and special guest Mark Gibson conduct the next performance of the FIU Orchestral Masterworks Series, set to take place on Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 7:30pm. To read more, click here.

To read his biography, click here

To see the announcement made by Orquesta Sinfonica de España , click here.



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Composition Workshop in Italy: Summer 2015 Study Abroad Program

The FIU School of Music is pleased to announce a composition workshop in Assisi, Italy this summer.

This summer study abroad program will give music composition students the opportunity to receive an overview of contemporary sacred art music and compose a new work with the guidance of, FIU head of composition and composer in residence, Dr. Orlando Jacinto Garcia. In addition, the work they create will be rehearsed and an archival recording will be provided by the Suono Sacro Ensemble in residence at the Suono Sacro International Music Festival in Assisi, Italy. A number of student works to be selected by the ensemble in conjunction with Dr. Garcia will be presented at the closing concert of the Festival.

The language for the course will be English and no knowledge of Italian is required. A limit of 12 students will be accepted into the workshop.


The program will be held in the city of Assisi, Italy, home of the Suono Sacro Festival. Facilities for rehearsals, lectures, and master classes will take place in the city at selected locations, including churches and schools.


Students will be staying at the Cittadella residence space especially designed for study abroad programs.


Summer B 2015


Abroad: July 12—25, 2015

Application Deadline: February 28, 2015

A portfolio of scores with recordings required by the deadline

Interviews in person or via Skype: March 2015


MUT 5930 : Special Topics (3 credits)


3 Credits


The estimated program cost of $2175 includes: accommodations in student residences, breakfast, and mandatory international health insurance.

The program cost does not include: airfare, daily meals, some local transportation, FIU course instructional fees ($203.59/credit), or the $175 non-refundable study abroad fee.


Dr. Orlando Jacinto Garcia Professor of Music

Program Coordinator for Music Composition

Composer in Residence, FIU School of Music

FIU College of Architecture & The Arts Miami Beach Urban Studios 420 Lincoln Road, Room 439, Miami Beach, Florida 33139

Tel: 305-535-2617 or Email: garciao@fiu.edu

OSA scholarships available.


To contact the FIU Office of Study Abroad, click here. 

To learn more about funding your study abroad experience, click here.

To download the flyer, click here.


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FIU Jazzist Robert “Be Bob” Grabowski Named Top Ten Jazz Musician by Miami New Times

Contributing Editor of Miami New Times Abel Folgar recently ranked FIU jazz musician Robert “Be Bop” Grabowski” as #3 on his “Miami’s Top Ten Jazz Musicians” list. According to Folgar, “South Florida used to be a jazz mecca. These musicians helped ensure that distinction.”

Robert “Be-Bob” Grabowski is a bassist, composer, educator, and jazz radio personality and has been an Adjunct Professor in Jazz Studies at Florida International University School of Music for the last twenty one years. Active as a bassist in the Miami jazz scene, he has also produced major concerts and festivals for both academic and public venues.

He has composed a large amount of music, resulting in his first solo efforts, The Bob Grabowski Group, Gecko Island, Darwin’s Dance, Midnight Samba, and Deepest Blue, as well as playing on many other’s recordings. A sixth CD of his work is underway and as part of the Absinthe Trio, he released the Absinthe Trio “Live” CD in January 2006. He finished the Fifth Edition of his textbook, “The Evolution Of Jazz” and was a  Jazz Educator in residence at the Larry Rosen Jazz Roots Concert Series at the Arsht Center. He is also an avid diver and underwater art photographer and opened his new gallery space in Miami in February 2011.

Others musicians listed include:

1. Arturo Sandoval

2. Robert Thomas Jr.

3. Bob Grabowski

4. Billy Rolle

5. Melton Mustafa

6. Jesse Jones Jr.

7. Don Wilner

8. William T. Peeples

9. Ira Sullivan

10. Pete Minger

To read the Miami New Times article, click here.



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Music in France: Summer 2015 Study Abroad Program

The FIU School of Music is pleased to announce its first Study Abroad Program. Participating students will have the opportunity to experience music study outside of the traditional classroom led by FIU School of Music faculty Dr. David Dolata and Dr. Joel Galand.

Students will explore the art of music editing and analysis with a special emphasis on the music of France. While in France, students will experience life in Tours, a historical medieval university town and visit Loire Valley chateaux, including the Chateau de Chambord, where they will attend a festive evening of music, dance, acrobatics, and period costumes to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the ascension of François I to the throne. The visit will be capped with the Bastille Day celebration at the Tours city hall, the Hôtel de Ville. The program includes a long weekend in Paris to experience the milieu in which the music students study was created and to take in the diverse contemporary Parisian musical scene. Highlights of the Paris visit will be a tour of the Paris Garnier Opera House, Montmartre, and the Gregorian Chant Mass at Notre Dame de Paris.

 Location Description

Classes in Tours will take place in a classroom within a 12th-century tower with vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, carved wood furniture, and original tapestries within the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) at the Université François-Rabelais de Tours—CNRS, one of Europe’s leading research institutes. Additional visits by train or chartered bus will transfer students to Paris, the Chateau de Chenonceau and Chambord.


In Tours, students will be housed at “La Croix Montoire,” a university dormitory in the historic center of town within easy walking distance of CESR, dining, shopping, and the train station. In Paris, students will stay at a hotel with breakfast included within walking distance of the Gare Montparnasse rail station.

 Semester & Dates

Summer C

On Campus: June 3—26, 2015

Abroad: July 1—15, 2015

 Courses & Credits

This course is a 6-credit program. Students must sign up for two 3-credit courses as listed below:


MUH 4680 Music History Seminar

MUT 3611 Form and Analysis


MUH 6937 Special Topics in Music History

MUT 5629 Analytical Techniques



To contact the FIU Office of Study Abroad, click here. 

To learn more about funding your study abroad experience, click here.

To download the flyer, click here.


FIU School of Music, Modesto A. Maidique Campus, WPAC 140

Telephone: 305-348-2076

Email: david.dolata@fiu.edu





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Music Student Karla Gutierrez Shares Her “Fearless Journey” at TedXFIU

On November 13th, music student Karla Gutierrez took to the stage to share her “Fearless Journey” with audiences at TedXFIU.  

Originally from Cartago, Costa Rica, she has a master’s in business administration and for many years worked as a human resources coordinator at a Swiss corporation. Unfulfilled and yearning for a life in which she could explore her passion for music, she encountered grief and obstacles that prevented her from furthering her talents in the arts. Before passing away, Gutierrez’s mom urged her to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer. Gutierrez quit her job and moved to Argentina to study jazz, so she could enroll at the FIU School of Music in order to hone her performing and composing skills as a Music Technology/Voice major.

She has since performed in classical choirs, salsa orchestras, jazz combos, symphony orchestras, and musical theater ensembles. She is currently working on a indiepop record with FIU alumnus and Costa Rican composer Fabrizio Montero. An active member of the FIU community, Gutierrez is founder of the student chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the president of the Electro­Acoustic Research Society and participates in the International Student Peer Mentor Program.

“I like Ted Talks because I feel connected to the idea of sharing stories that would encourage others to focus on the joy and continuous discovery of life, accepting challenges and overcoming fears. I’ve seen many Ted Talks that have moved me and inspired me in this way, such as My Creations, A New Form of Life by Theo Jansen, The Creative Genius by Elizabeth Gilbert, How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Makes Us Who We Are by Andrew Solomon, among many others.” Gutierrez continues “I thought that this year’s theme, “Fearless Journey,” would apply to my story about the transition from a business career to one of music. Receiving this opportunity is a great chance for me to hopefully inspire others to follow their passion.” 

To read more about TedXFIU 2014 “Fearless Journey,” click here.



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ARTS@FIU Expands Creativity in Miami-Dade Public Schools

The story was posted by FIU Student Media Staff Writer Samantha Davis and is available by clicking here.

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, teachers from all over Miami-Dade County flocked to the Wertheim Performing Arts Center for one of the biggest art events of the year. ARTS@FIU was a professional development day for any and all arts teachers to gain knowledge and learn techniques to engage the students in their classes.

Bryan Petorak, District Supervisor of the Performing Arts Division of Academic Support and the Office of Academics and Transportation for the Miami-Dade Public Schools system, was the man behind the event. Petorak oversees professional development for teachers, curriculum related to the performing arts, implementation of legislation that affects the performing arts, scheduling district performances and much more, so it was important to him that ARTS@FIU be engaging and informative.

Petorak met with FIU faculty prior to the event to shape ARTS@FIU into a day that would benefit Miami-Dade County teachers.

“I wanted to identify sessions that we could offer for all of the disciplines that we have here with art, music and theatre,” Petorak said.

According to Petorak, ARTS@FIU has just focused on music education the last two years but expanded to include theatre and art this year.

The event began at 8:30 a.m. with an introduction by Petorak and a video he showed in which Dr. Maya Angelou directly spoke about how to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Petorak then read one of his favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning” to prepare the teachers for a day of learning how to impact their students’ lives.

At around 9 a.m. the teachers broke off into music, art, and theatre sessions.

“Teachers are participating in these sessions just as students participate in classes and courses. They can then take new information to their classes that will be useful,” Petorak said.

One session, “Participatory Culture: Creativity in Music Programs” led by Evan Tobias, Assistant Professor of Education at Arizona State University, analyzed the song “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons to reveal the ways in which society interprets music. The session featured a variety of covers, parodies, remixes and mashups of the song as a way to get music teachers thinking about how they can spark creativity in their classrooms and encourage students to share ideas with each other.

“My favorite part about today is getting together with colleagues and learning new techniques for the classroom,” said Ana Maria, a music teacher at Laura C. Saunders Elementary School.

David Cruz, an orchestra, chorus, and theater teacher at South Miami Senior High, enjoys connecting with his students.

“The greatest thing about teaching music is watching the growth of the students, sharing music with them, and influencing their lives,” Cruz said.

Other sessions at the arts event included Directing and Playwriting, an orchestra session in which teachers practiced playing their violins, and more.

FIU students played an integral role throughout the day.

“We made sure that we met and greeted the teachers and assisted with the workshops. It was beneficial for me to see how teachers think,” said Namdzy Marcelin, a freshman majoring in Music Education.

ARTS@FIU was a chance for students to see what their work as future teachers will be like.

“The best part about today was being able to interact with people who will eventually be my peers and getting an idea of what I can bring to the school system,” said Alex Toussaint, a sophomore majoring in Music Education.

ARTS@FIU is one of several professional development days for Miami-Dade County teachers and brought in a significant number of teachers this year.

The FIU School of Music would like to thank the Johnny Mercer Foundation for their generous and continual support of music initiatives throughout Miami-Dade County. This year, they have provided over 30,000 enrichment program guides for public school teachers and their students, in addition to awarding fellowships to four School of Music students. For more information, click here.




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Amernet String Quartet Receives Glowing Review in Jewish Program

On November 9th, the Amernet String Quartet, FIU’s Ensemble-in-Residence, performed with Cantor Daniel Gross in a program of Jewish works to commemorate the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Writer Lawrence Budman of South Florida Classical Review offers his critique.

As part of an ambitious series of music and dance performances, the hall (Bailey Hall) hosted a concert of Jewish music Sunday afternoon marking the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass).

On the night of November 9, 1938, supposedly in response to the killing of a German diplomat in Paris by a Jewish youth, over a thousand synagogues were torched and homes and businesses of Jews were looted and destroyed. Nearly one hundred people were killed and thirty thousand were arrested by the Gestapo and taken to concentration camps. It was a prelude to the Holocaust, the annihilation of Europe’s Jewish population (as well as gypsies and homosexuals) on a scale difficult to perceive even today.

The Amernet String Quartet was featured in a program of rarely heard chamber and vocal works. For Michael Klotz, the group’s violist, the concert had a personal dimension: his grandparents were survivors of Auschwitz.

When composer Viktor Ullmann was murdered at Auschwitz, the world lost a genius. A pupil of Schoenberg, Ullmann composed his String Quartet No. 3 in 1943 at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. (Ullmann wrote over 20 works at Terezin, not all of which have survived.)

Lasting just over ten minutes, the compact score is in four continuous movements. Opening in the romantic vein of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, a Presto turns harsh with over lapping instrumental lines. The desolate Largo is the heart and soul of the score, deeply imbued with tones of impending tragedy.  A concluding Allegro vivace is at times playful but also dark and angular. The superbly crafted score brought out the Amernet’s plush tonal sonority and lithe blending of timbres.

The quartet also gave a forceful performance of Ernest Bloch’s Paysages. A multifaceted composer, this three movement suite comes not from Bloch’s Judaic, neo-classical or modernist periods but is a musicological exploration of the sounds of Alaska, the Swiss Alps and the Congo. From the high harmonics of “Alpestre” to the wild dance rhythms of “Tongataboo,” this is a highly imaginative work that poses instrumental challenges, easily handled by the Amernet foursome.

Cantor Daniel Gross was the featured vocal soloist in a series of Yiddish and Hebrew texts. Resident cantor at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Gross has sung baritone roles with leading regional opera companies. His deep bass-baritone resounded in the opening Esa Enai (I Will Lift Up My Eyes) by Israel composer Mordechai Yardeini. Four Yiddish Songs in luminous arrangements by Leo Zeitlin prominently featured Klotz’s mellow viola. Devoid of vibrato and strong in the lowest depths, Gross was vociferous and moving in the traditional Eyli, eyli (My God, My God), light and witty in the child’s play of Pattycake, pattycake and strongly reverent in the Kaddish Prayer of Rabbi Levi-Isaac.

Incisively accompanied by Alan Mason on piano, Gross encompassed the operatic histrionics ofRachem (Have Mercy) by the late Miami-based composer Mana Zucca. A pop infused setting by Ofer Barnoy of L’Or Vador displayed Gross’ smooth legato while he turned Yiddish theater entertainer for Abraham Ellstein’s hilatious Yidl Mitn Fidl.

Grossd concluded with a stirring rendition in Hebrew of the traditional Im Eshkachech (If I Forgot You Jerusalem). As an interlude Amernet violinist Misha Vitenson and Mason sweetly conveyed the Viennese schmaltz and sadness of Fritz Kreisler Liebeslied (Love’s Sorrows).

To read more on South Florida Classical Reviewclick here. 

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FIU Vocal & Choral Festival Attracts Over 300 Miami-Dade Students

On Friday, November 7th, roughly 300 high school choral students from seven Miami-Dade County Schools will partake in a the FIU Choral and Vocal Festival located at the Herbert and Nicole Performing Arts Center. Throughout the day, students will be participating in rehearsals, masterclasses with vocal faculty, and choral clinics with special guest conductor Dr. Ann Howard Jones of Boston University.

Ann Howard Jones aAt Boston University, Dr. Jones is professor of music and director of choral activities. She conducts the Symphonic and Chamber Choruses, supervises conducting students in the Concert Chorus and the Women’s Chorale, teaches graduate choral conducting, and administers the MM and DMA programs in Choral Conducting. Dr. Jones is also the conductor of the BU Tanglewood Institute Young Artists’ Vocal Program Chorus, an auditioned ensemble of high school singers who rehearse and perform at Tanglewood in the summer. Recognized as a distinguished clinician, adjudicator, teacher, and conductor, she has led many all-state and regional choruses, workshops, and masterclasses in the U.S., Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. From 1984 to 1998, Dr. Jones was the assistant conductor to the late Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony choruses, where she was the assistant conductor for choruses, sang in the alto section, assisted with the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers and helped to organize the Robert Shaw Institute.

According to newly appointed FIU Choral Director Dr. Kathryn Longo, “the FIU Choral Festival began last year with three area schools. This year, we are expanding the event to offer more students a chance to work with an excellent clinician and experience some of what the choral and vocal program at FIU has to offer.”

Participating schools include Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School, South Miami Middle School, South Miami High School, Ronald Reagan/Doral Senior High School, Young Men’s Preparatory Academy, Miami Arts Charter School in Homestead, and John A. Ferguson High School.

The festival activities will culminate in an evening performance at 7:30pm featuring choral ensembles from each school and the FIU Concert Choir. The concert will close with a combined chorus of over three hundred singers led by FIU Vocal Director Robert B. Dundas, FIU Professor Mark Aliapoulios, and Dr. Howard Jones. To learn more, click here.

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FIU and Friends of Chamber Music of Miami Form Distinguished Artist Master Class Series

On October 28th in the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, violist of the Ehnes Quartet and member of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Richard O’Neill gave a masterclass to both undergraduate and graduate viola students. His appearance was the first in a series of masterclasses given by distinguished musicians who are appearing on the Friends of Chamber Music of Miami 2014-15 concert season.

After working with O’Neill, graduate student Victor Torres explained, “this was an amazing opportunity! It was truly an honor and privilege to work with such an outstanding violist.”  

These artists will impart their knowledge to students of the School of Music and selected high school students. Other featured artists include internationally acclaimed violin soloist and recording artist James Ehnes, President and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music Roberto Diaz, Juilliard piano professor and pianist of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio Joseph Kalichstein, and renowned British pianist Stephen Hough.

Michael Klotz states “with the new Friends of Chamber Music of Miami- FIU Distinguished Artists Masterclass Program, FIU continues to increase the quality of education to its already outstanding programs. This series of masterclasses features a most distinguished roster to which the students will undoubtedly benefit greatly from their expertise and knowledge.” 

This initiative, conceived by President of Friends of Chamber Music of Miami Julian Kreeger and FIU viola professor Michael Klotz and generously supported by CARTA Dean Brian Schriner, is another example of the “Worlds Ahead” activity at FIU. All classes are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Mr. Klotz at klotzm@fiu.edu.

To view the masterclass schedule, click here.

For more information about the Friends of Chamber Music of Miami’s concert season, click here.

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FIU Concert Choir & Symphony Orchestra to Perform Mozart Mass for Archbishop of Miami

Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church and the FIU School of Music and will together present a Solemn Vigil Mass on the Eve of All Saint’s Day on Friday, October 31st at 7:30pm at St. Patrick’s on Miami Beach. The Mass will be officiated by His Excellency the Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski and will be broadcast live on the Global Catholic Network, EWTN. FIU’s Choral Conductor S. Mark Aliapoulios will lead the FIU Concert Choir and the FIU Symphony Orchestra as they perform Mozart’s sacred work “Missa Solemnis.

When asked how this partnership came to fruition, FIU Vocal Studies Director Robert B. Dundas explained “I am a congregant at St. Patrick’s. I was approached by Father Roberto Cid who had wanted a performance of the Mozart Mass for many years, but had been unsuccessful in his search to find an ensemble who could do it. I knew immediately that our elite choral ensemble, the FIU Concert Choir, would perform beautifully. As time passed, more people became involved in the project and we are now very fortunate to have the Archbishop of Miami celebrating the Mass as well. I am very happy that we have established this wonderful partnership with St. Patrick’s Church. It has one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in South Florida and the pastor and his entire congregation seem very receptive to having FIU music faculty, ensembles, and students perform there.”

The Mass will feature the Saint Patrick Church Choir conducted by Brother Mark Spencer, the church’s Director of Music and Liturgy. They will be accompanied by pianist Jared Peroune and Principal Cantor Steven Wilson.

According to Father Cid, “this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience, music, art, and beauty. In the context of the celebration of the greatest gift of God, the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. Beauty is one of the ways that enable the human spirit to the contemplation of God who not only is beautiful, but beauty itself and the source of all beauty.”

The community is invited to attend at no charge.

Address: St. Patrick Catholic Church, 3716 Garden Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140

For more information: St. Patrick Catholic Church; Tel.: 305-531-1124  

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Annual Liszt Festival Brings South Florida Talent to the Wertheim

According to the American Liszt Society, “Franz Liszt was perhaps the most misunderstood musician in the history of our art. One has only to read a few pages of Alan Walker’s monumental biography of Franz Liszt before realizing that, in truth, Liszt was a deep thinker, and he had a profound effect on the musical minds of his day. His inspiration, genius, and generosity influenced the development of musical thought well into the twentieth century.”

It was this very reason that compelled FIU Keyboard Coordinator Jose Lopez to push for the approval of the South Florida Chapter of the American Liszt Society (ALS) at FIU in 2010, joining 16 other chapters in different parts of the United States. Since then, the chapter has presented annual concerts and events at FIU’s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert Hall, the Deering Estate Estate (as part of the Piano Series), and the Coral Gables Museum, among other venues in an effort to promote Liszt’s contributions as performer, composer, and humanitarian. Currently, officers of the FIU Chapter include President Jose Lopez, Treasurer Kamilla Szklarska, Secretary Laura Wilcox, Artistic Advisor Kemal Gekic, and Honorary Advisor Frank Cooper.

“As a pianist, Liszt’s influence eclipsed all performers before, during, and after his time,” notes Lopez. “As a composer, he was at the forefront of new developments in European music that influenced contemporaries such as Wagner and future stylistic manifestations such as Impressionism, Nationalism, and Atonalism.”

The first performance is set to take place on Saturday, October 18th at 7:30pm in the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert Hall. Performers will include FIU pianists Kemal Gekic, Jose Lopez, Kamilla Szklarska and Silvije Vidovic, along with graduate students from FIU, UM, and Lynn Conservatory. They will perform works by Liszt, Chopin, Ravel, Balakirev and Liszt transcriptions by Busoni and Horowitz.

The festival will conclude with a matinee performance on Sunday, October 19th at 4:00pm and will feature FIU and South Florida’s powerhouse pianist Kemal Gekic in a selection of solo repertoire by Chopin and Liszt. He will join conductor Darwin Aquino and the FIU Symphony in Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 for the finale.

For more information on the Saturday, October 18th performance, click here.

For more information on the October 19th performance, click here.




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New Online App Allows Students to Submit Pre-audition Materials

The FIU School of Music has joined the ranks of over 400 performing arts schools who are now using a powerful, easy-to-use, digital application tool called GetAcceptd that not only provides students with a platform to upload their work, but also allows schools to manage admission materials.

Many parents and students are faced with the daunting task of creating and presenting their audition materials to the universities and colleges of their choice. GetAcceptd has made this pre-screening process easier. Starting this year, all applicants to the Bachelor of Music (BM), Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music, and Master of Music (MM) or Masters of Music Education (MS) degrees are required to submit an application via GetAcceptd. GetAcceptd makes it easy for all prospective students to upload preliminary materials and pre-audition videos, which are then reviewed by FIU School of Music program coordinators. Successful applicants will then be invited to live auditions at FIU’s School of Music. The audition dates for  this year are:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

In order to be admitted to the FIU School of Music, students must first be admitted to Florida International University. Admission to the university is very selective and students are urged to submit their applications as early as possible. For more information, visit the FIU Undergraduate Admissions Office or the FIU Graduate Admissions Office. 

To find out how to apply to any number of program at the School of Music, visit the admissions page by clicking here. Students can consult specific program listings for applicable requirements in your area of interest by clicking here. Students pay a fee of $25 per application submitted.

Good luck on your journey! We look forward to meeting you!

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Student Vocalist Andrew Lujan Wins Prestigious International Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Competition

Congratulations to Music Education major Andrew Lujan (tenor, pictured far left) and his barbershop quartet “The Academy” for winning 1st place at the International Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Competition this past summer! The competition was hosted by the Barbershop Harmony Society at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada where the quartet competed alongside 27 other quartets. The other members of the quartet include Peter Cunningham (lead), Kevin Menendez (baritone), and Michael Skutt (bass). Since their successful first performance at the 2013 Labor Day Jamboree, they have been named the 2013 Florida Novice Barbershop Quartet Champions and the 2014 Sunshine District International Collegiate Representatives.

“Winning was very exciting for us and we are VERY excited to proceed into our future as champs this year. We went out, poured our hearts out on the competition stage, and were lucky enough to come away with 1st place among 27 other great quartets!” said Lujan.

Winning the International Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Competition is a great achievement, and they are guaranteed to receive well deserved exposure, including at Youth Workshops where their quartet will enjoy teaching large groups of students about the art of barbershopping. Learn more about “The Academy” and their upcoming events on their Facebook page by clicking here.  Andrew is also a member of the FIU Concert Choir, FIU’s elite choral ensemble. 

Congratulations again to Andrew Lujan! We are proud to call you a Panther! 


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Conductor To Pay Tribute to Maya Angelou in October 8th Concert

On October 8th, the FIU School of Music will present its Wind and Percussion Arts Series, featuring the FIU Wind Ensemble and newly appointed conductor Dr. Brenton Alston in a passionate journey that pays tribute to the late Maya Angelou. According to Dr. Alston,

“I have always been inspired by poetry and music. With the recent passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, I sought for a meaningful way to pay tribute to her legacy and bring together poetry and music in performances for our students and community. One day while walking, I remembered a lyric, “your life becomes a travelogue, of picture-postcard charms,” from Joni Mitchell’s Amelia, and the concert series began to take shape. I chose to focus on the music and poetry from many different regions: France, England, New England, China, Japan and the unknown area of outer space and the inner depths of our own soul. This concert series is filled with inspired music from amazing composers.”

The concert will take place at the Herbert and Nicole Performing Arts Center Concert Hall on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7:30pm. Ticket prices range from $5-10 and can be purchased online at wpac.fiu.edu, at the door, or by calling 305-348-0496. For more information, click here.



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100% Job Placement for 2013-14 Music Education Graduates

Professors Cathy Benedict and Patrick Schmidt are proud to announce that all 2013 – 2014 music education graduates have successfully secured work placements in their field.  These graduates now represent FIU School of Music across the nation and globe, teaching students from pre-kindergarten through college.

Benedict suggests this accomplishment comes about by focusing “all our efforts toward fostering graduates who see themselves as leaders committed to act in critical and innovative ways.” Schmidt notes that “the strong collaboration the School of Music and the Music Education program have developed particularly with the Miami Dade Public School district has been essential in providing hands-on experiences and trust in the quality of the education provided at FIU.”

Elizabeth Urquiola, now in her first year of teaching at RAMZ Academy, reflects on her time at FIU and how her studies are now helping her create an effective classroom atmosphere:  

“With the experience and resources that I obtained from the FIU Music Education program, I feel well prepared for my first year of teaching. I was taught to consistently make music with the students throughout the lesson, and exactly how to do it. When I tried this approach in my classroom I was able to engage the students throughout the entire lesson and “classroom management” became easy. So far, all my lessons have been composed with songs that I learned during my time at FIU, and the students absolutely love them! Thank you to the FIU Music Education Program for making my first few weeks of teaching easy, fun, and rewarding. “

Ari Nemser, who graduated in 2014 with an MS in Music Education, is now working as a curriculum specialist in the office of the arts supervisor for Miami Dade Public Schools, Bryan Petorak.  He says the following of his experience as a graduate music education student at FIU:

“My experience at FIU as a graduate student opened many doorways for me. I really enjoyed how the program was designed, allowing me to customize how I spent my time and studies. The core graduate curriculum for music education provided a well-balanced offering of classes, introducing me to significant literature in the field on topics such as curriculum and learning, the opportunity to develop my own research, and a constant emphasis on thinking critically about my role as a music educator. In addition, I spent equally as much time fine tuning my trumpet playing, my conducting skills, my jazz knowledge, and my overall abilities to teach instrumental music, specifically band. All of my professors provided support as needed and continued that support after my degree completion as they assisted with my job search. As a Curriculum Support Specialist, I work on various projects and research aimed at improving the district’s programs, in particular the implementation and development of band programs.”

Testaments like these validate the dedication of both FIU music education students and the faculty who support them along the way.

The Music Education Program is fully certified by the Florida State Department of Education and nationally accredited by the National Association of the Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Music education students accepted into this program join a world-class school of music and receive an outstanding education where they will be able to develop and practice their musical abilities in addition to their pedagogical skills.  Most significantly, the Music Education Program is committed to the mission of graduating educators who are responsible, reflexive, ethical, creative, and dedicated to their communities.


Congratulations to the following graduates on their success! 


Undergraduate Music Education Alumni:

Jina Park – Fernwood Elementary (Seatle)

Genesis Zambrano – Pine Crest Preparatory Academy

Giancarlo Rojas – Montessori school in North Miami

Carlos Hernandez – Middle School Charter in Pembroke Pines

Elizabeth Urquiola –  RAMZ Academy

Mashell Leroy – Bethune Elementary School of the Arts (Broward)

Juancarlos Rivero – Miami Dade Schools

Ana Rivero – Bridge Prep Academy


Graduate Music Education Alumni:

Trena Anderson – Starlight Cove Elementary (Palm Beach)

Kristine Musgrove – Mountain Ridge Middle School (Maryland)

Ari Nemser – Miami Dade Arts Supervisor District Office; Curriculum Specialist

Jacobo Nitsch – Assistant Professor, Universidad del Valle (Guatemala)

David Rodriguez – Miami Dade College


For more information on the Music Education Program, click here. 

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National Council on the Arts Member Bruce Carter Appointed Dean’s Distinguished Fellow

Brian Schriner, Dean of College of Architecture + The Arts, has appointed Bruce Allen Carter as a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow for 2014-15.

Bruce Allen Carter is an arts educator and researcher, whose work focuses on issues of creativity and the intersections of social justice and arts participation. His research has been published in the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education,Journal of Research in Music Education, and Music Educators Journal, in addition to numerous invited chapters by Oxford Press. Recently, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Education designated the Bruce Carter Qualitative Research Center as a place for graduate students to pursue meaningful qualitative research agendas. Carter received a B.M. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a M.M. from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Music Education from Northwestern University. In 2013, he was appointed by President Obama to serve a six year position as Council Member on the National Council on the Arts.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in the dynamic work occurring at FIU, specifically CARTA. I hope to engage faculty, students, and community members in ways that foster interdisciplinary approaches to artistic process and research. I am enamored with the vision of FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios and the way it seeks to utilize community engagement, and expertise afforded by its facilities and location to be at the forefront of teaching, research, and service in art, design, performance, and communication. I hope to spotlight the amazing faculty at FIU and add my voice to a vision that is forward thinking and beneficial to Miami.

During his nine month appointment, he will produce an online publication consisting of a series of short essays , videos, and images that document multiple exchanges with the College of Architecture + The Arts. The publication will be included in new and current online courses. He will also conduct a series of lectures and panel discussions to be held both at the FIU School of Music and the Miami Beach Urban Studios throughout the academic year. The first panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, November 12th at 7:00pm in the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Recital Hall and will cover the topic “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding the Creative Mind.”

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FIU School of Music Unveils Its 2014-15 Season

The FIU School of Music begins its 2014-15 season under the leadership of Interim Director Dr. William Hipp, Dean Emeritus of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at UM. Audiences can expect to benefit from culturally relevant programming and events that will focus on community building efforts through local partnerships, new ticket prices, and the appointment of new artist-faculty.

This season will prove to be both diverse and bustling with creativity with nearly 200 events (including performances, festivals, benefit concerts, master classes, workshops, and lectures) scheduled to take place between September and April. With the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Art Center Concert Hall leading the way as the premier venue for performances, this season will welcome world-renowned guest performers, faculty ensembles and soloists, and a vast array of star student ensembles. Concerts and events will also be performed at venues throughout Miami, including College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios on Lincoln Road, The Wolfsonian-FIU, Steinway Piano Gallery in Coral Gables, Heritage Park in the City of Sunny Isles Beach, and Pinecrest Gardens, among many others.

The FIU Chamber Players, directed by violinist Robert Davidovici, starts off the concert season on Tuesday, September 16th with a chamber musical showcase through the centuries, shortly followed by a performance by the FIU Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gzegorz Nowak on Thursday, September 18th. The Orchestral Masterworks Series will include a notable list of guest artists including conductor David Effron, conductor Mark Gibson, conductor James Judd of Miami Music Project, pianist Augustin Anievas, conductor Neil Varon, and more. On November 20, FIU violist Michael Klotz and the FIU Concert Choir will join the FIU Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Vaughan Williams’ unique choral-orchestral work, Flos Campi. This six-movement suite for orchestra, solo viola, and choir features the composer’s harmonic ingenuity and his gift for ethereal melodic development.

The Amernet String Quartet, FIU’s Ensemble-in-Residence, has a sensational season ahead featuring exciting collaborations with artists such as concert pianist Margarita Shevchenko, who will join them for a program of Russian composers during the opening concert of their season on Tuesday, September 30th. Later in their season they will be joined by pianist and Dean of FAU School of Music Heather Coltman for a program in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance, where they will perform works by Korngold, Zeitlin, Schul, Bloch, and Weinberg at the Miami Beach Urban Studios Gallery.

The FIU GuitART Series, spearheaded by Turkish composer and classical guitarist Mesut Ozgen, offers an exciting lineup of performances by the FIU Miami Guitar Orchestra throughout the year, and will welcome Baroque specialist and internationally-acclaimed harpsichordist Anthony Newman and Flamenco dancer Karen Fuller for “Plucked Baroque” set to take place on Friday, October 3rd.

The appointment of two established, full-time faculty members, Dr. Brenton Alston and Dr. Kathryn Longo, promise to energize both the Choral Arts Department and the Wind/Percussion Department. Dr. Alston, Director of the FIU Wind Ensemble and Chamber Winds, has already begun building a strong wind and percussion area and will bring together poetry and music in a tribute concert to the late Maya Angelou on October 8th. Dr. Longo will be replacing retired former Choral Director John Augenblick and will lead the FIU Choirs in a season of sacred and passionate selections beginning with Mozart and James Whitbourn’s moving work for chorus and organ, “All Shall be Amen and Alleluia” on Thursday, October 9th.  The FIU Concert Choir will also have the honor of performing Mozart’s All Saint’s Day Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach on Friday, October 31st, which will be officiated by the Archbishop of Miami. Audiences will be further charmed by holiday programming that includes a joint performance with the FIU Choirs and Florida’s Singing Sons Boychoir on November 24th and the annual performance of Handel’s glorious masterpiece, “Messiah,” to be directed by S. Mark Aliapolious on December 5th.

Beginning on Tuesday, October 7th, the Jazz at the Wertheim Series, directed by Gary Campbell, will showcase the music of FIU jazzists including trombonist Chad Bernstein and will continue with guitarist Tom Lippincott, vocalist Lisanne Lyons, Rodolfo Zuniga’s Surface Quartet, Latin Jazz Ensemble with Grammy-nominated pianist Michael Orta, among others. Celebrate FIU Homecoming Week with trumpeter James Hacker and the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band or join us for a very special appearance with Grammy-nominated jazz artist John Fedchock for an evening of original compositions on February 7th, immediately following the highly popular Festival of Jazz Bands.

The Keyboard Art Series, directed by the Coordinator of Keyboard Program Jose Lopez, will present the annual Liszt Festival on October 18-19. The first of its kind in South Florida, the festival is dedicated to advancing knowledge about the great Romantic Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt and is sponsored by the South Florida chapter of the American Liszt Society at FIU. The festival will feature FIU powerhouse and Miami International Piano Festival favorite Kemal Gekic, along with other FIU faculty, the FIU Symphony Orchestra, and graduate students from FIU, UM, and Lynn Conservatory. Piano aficionados will appreciate the variety of guest artists appearing on this series, including Steinway artist Michael Boyd, South Florida favorite Martha Marchena, University of South Florida’s Svetozar Ivanov, and more throughout the season.

Mark your calendars for February 21 and 22 for the much anticipated annual production of FIU Opera Theatre. This year, Vocal Studies Coordinator Robert Dundas will direct L’Etoile, an “operá bouffe” in three acts by Emmanuel Chabrier. Featuring disguise and deception, astrologers and ambassadors, peddlers and lovers, this whimsical opera tells the story of King Ouf who is on the search for a suitable subject to execute as a birthday gift to himself. Or immerse yourself in a performance of “One Voice, Many Nations,” a musical theatre showcase that traces the lineage of the Broadway musical to its European roots. Musical direction will be provided by Steven Chirucel from UCF’s Department of Theatre.

This spring, the New Music Miami ISCM Festival welcomes an array of innovative and well-known composers and performers from all over the globe in celebration of its 19th successful season. This contemporary music festival, founded by the former Director of the School of Music, provides exciting performances along with master classes and panel discussions with the invited guest artists. The distinctive character of his music has been described as “time suspended-haunting sonic explorations” developed from studies with Morton Feldman. Festival highlights include the performance of the FIU Symphony Orchestra and renowned guest violinist Jennifer Choi as they perform Peter Paul Koprowski’s Podhal and the world premiere of Orlando Jacinto Garcia’s Violin Concerto on January 30.

Other artists in upcoming concerts include cellist Charles Kurtis, FIU School of Music alumni composers, violinist Mari Kimura, flutist Robert Dick, and performances by the FIU NODUS Ensemble, the Fonema Consort Ensemble, the Bugallo-Williams Duo, and the Amernet String Quartet with pianist Amy Williams.

In addition to a very active performance calendar, over 60 master classes by esteemed musicians and scholars expect to find their way to the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, all of which are free and open to the public. An exciting partnership with the Friends of Chamber Music of Miami will result in the creation of a Distinguished Artist Master Class Series, which will include highly sought after performers such as violinist James Ehnes, pianists Joseph Kalichstein and Steven Hough, violists Roberto Diaz and Richard O’Neill, and cellist Williiam DeRosa. Details to be announced in October.

In effort to support local arts initiatives, students 18 and under are now able to purchase Miami Youth Tickets for only $5. Student discount rates are also available to individuals attending a college or university who are under the age of 26 with a valid I.D.


For more details about the season, contact the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Box Office for information at 305-348-0496 or visit music.fiu.edu/performances.

Listen to our season announcement on WLRN, by clicking here.

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FIU/ASCAP Spanish Songwriters Workshop to benefit FIU students

Brian Schriner, Dean of FIU College of Architecture + The Arts, is proud to announce the College has partnered with the New York, Los Angeles, and Miami offices of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to offer a two-day songwriting workshop open to all currently enrolled FIU students and alumni. The workshop will be led by three of Miami’s leading bilingual songwriters along with industry veteran Karl Avanzini facilitating the workshop at the Miami Beach Urban Studios Gallery on November 3 and 4.

“The partnership provides our students with yet another opportunity to work alongside distinguished songwriters, composers, and producers,” stated Dean Schriner.

The intensive, tuition-free workshop will be offered in Spanish and English is designed to focus on the development and education of promising new songwriters. As part of the collaboration, a panel of artist-faculty from the FIU School of Music will select six aspiring student musicians to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The panel will include the Director of Music Business and Music Management Programs Karen Fuller and Director of the Jazz Vocal Program Lisanne Lyons.

Chosen participants will have an opportunity to work collectively and privately with professional songwriters to develop original works as well as participate in a music business seminar which will cover areas such as marketing, copyright, and publishing. This year’s workshop will be led by Latin Grammy winners Yoel Henriquez and Fernando Osorio, along with Latin pop hitmaker Jorge Luís Piloto.

According to Interim Director of FIU School of Music Dr. William Hipp, “Miami has long been a fertile ground for songwriters and the recording industry, and ASCAP’s commitment demonstrates very special support for the next generation of hit-makers.”

The workshop will conclude with a private reception in the Miami Beach Urban Studios Main Gallery, where the students will perform their new works for music producers and invited guests. Afterwards, each student will receive a Certificate of Completion.

How to apply: Writers interested in applying to the ASCAP/FIU Spanish Music Songwriters Workshop should submit the following information electronically to music@fiu.edu; Panther I.D. (if current student), a brief biography including address, phone number, and e-mail address, and MP3s of two (2) original songs (in Spanish) with lyric sheets. The subject line must include: “ASCAP Songwriting Workshop.” If selected, participants must be able to attend all sessions at the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios on 420 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL. The submission deadline has been extended to October 24th. 

For any questions, contact Karen Fuller at fullerk@fiu.edu. 

 About Karl Avanzini 

Karl Avanzini has been the Director of Creative Affairs, Latin Membership East Coast at ASCAP for over a decade.  He is responsible for signing most of ASCAP’s successful songwriters and has served as panelist, creator, and educator in the music industry. He is well-known for his artist showcases during the Billboard Latin Awards including Enrique Iglesias, Kany Garcia, LENA, Debi Nova, Nahuel, Daniel Santacruz, Victor Manuelle, and many others.

 About ASCAP

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 500,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only US performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from members.

ASCAP is home to the greatest names in American music, past and present — from Duke Ellington to Katy Perry, from George Gershwin to Jay-Z, from Leonard Bernstein to Beyoncé, from Marc Anthony to Alan Jackson, from Henry Mancini to Hans Zimmer — as well as many thousands of writers in the earlier stages of their careers across the entire musical spectrum. Members are individuals who make their living writing music. There are many steps between creation and compensation; a music creator is like a small business, and ASCAP exists to ensure members are paid promptly and fairly when their compositions are performed publicly.


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