Wertheim School of Music Welcomes New Faculty for 23/24


After an extensive search, the Wertheim School of Music is pleased to welcome new faculty members for the 2023-2024 academic year. This expansion showcases an unwavering commitment to shaping growing programs, with each faculty member bringing a wealth of expertise and passion.

Patrick Cooper, Ph.D., Music Education

Patrick K. Cooper currently serves an assistant professor of music education. He teaches courses in research, curriculum development, philosophy, and creativity. He holds degrees in music education from Arizona State University (B.M., M.M.) and University of South Florida (Ph.D.). He has presented internationally, nationally, and locally at conferences such as NeuroMusic, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, International Society for Music Education, Society for Music Teacher Education, and the National Association for Music Education Biennial Music Research and Teacher Education Conference. He has given workshops and lectures as an invited speaker at several universities including University of Southern California, Arizona State University, Illinois State University, and Westminster Choir College.

Omar Lateef, Jazz

Omar Lateef was appointed as visiting assistant teaching professor in Jazz Performance. He is a graduate of both Yale University (’05) and The Juilliard School (’03), having received B.A. and M.A. degrees from both institutions respectively. At FIU, he the will direct University Brass Choir & FIU Studio Jazz Big Band. He is a retired bandleader for Carnival Corporation, home of the world’s largest cruise line. He has also been a featured guest artist with the Rostov Russian International Jazz Festival, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Ensemble, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and has performed alongside well-known artists including Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Belgrave, Arturo Sandoval, Jon Faddis, James Carter, and Kathleen Battle to name a select few.

Luis Aguilar, Conducting

Luis Aguilar, ‘MM ’20, is a creative and dynamic artist with an unfolding career as a conductor. His musical training started at El Sistema (Venezuela) and let to a M.M. in Orchestral Conducting at FIU. Currently, he holds the positions of Interim Conductor of the Leader’s Symphony Orchestra of Miami Music Project, Assistant Conductor of The Miami Symphony Orchestra, and regular Guest Conductor of the Venezuelans United by Music (VUM) Orchestra. Aguilar is a former member of the celebrated Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in which he was Principal Viola from 2006 to 2012. This position allowed him to perform in multiple concerts and recordings with conductors and soloists such as Gustavo Dudamel, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, Juan Diego Florez, Luciano Pavarotti, Bryn Terfel, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman. 

Melanie Ferrabone, Bassoon

Panamanian bassoonist, Melanie Ferrabone, has amassed a multifaceted international career as a teacher, soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician; influencing generations across the world. Ferrabone has also performed in various festivals across the United States including the Festival Napa Valley’s Blackburn Music Academy and the Brevard Summer Music Institute. Ferrabone’s journey through music began in Panama under the instruction of Daniel Agudo. She later moved to the United States, where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Southern Mississippi under Dr. Kimberly Woolly and won the Mississippi Music Teacher Association Collegiate Competition, the USM Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition, and the USM Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. She remains an active orchestral player in the orchestras of South Florida and helped co-found the KHAOS winds quintet and the Sunset Winds.

Kelsey Gallagher, Clarinet

Kelsey Gallagher is a member of the Sunset Winds, a Miami-based woodwind quintet dedicated to performing diverse and contemporary music. She has performed with the Miami International Piano Festival, the Festival Napa Valley Blackburn Music Academy Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. She commissioned and premiered Garrett Wingfield’s improvisatory I unpeel for solo clarinet and electronics at the 2021 NACWPI Conference, which was also accepted for performance at the 2022 International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest in Reno. She works with the Nu Deco NXT Youth Ensemble in Miami. 

Camasha Melissa Cevieux, Music Business

Camasha Cevieux has earned respect as a consummate public administrator for her creative approaches to problem solving and the promotion of municipal matters. Cevieux has 18 plus years in progressive managerial positions in government, as well as the private sector. She is currently the Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of Miramar and runs the Miramar Cultural Arts Center and as a key board member on Broward County’s Tourist Development Council. In these roles she advocates for the inclusion and the benefits that community-based destinations offer. She has most recently added published author to her portfolio with the launch of her book “The Ambitious Collective” – A self-proclaimed life manual on facing adversity, aspiration and prosperity.

Rachal Solomon, Musical Theatre

Rachal has directed numerous musicals including Pirates of Penzance, Songs for A New World, Wizard of Oz and 35 MM. Most recently, Rachal has continued to push her own creative boundaries scoring music for numerous films including “Once Upon a Christmas” and a new musical movie pilot due out in 2024 entitled, “Teenage Musical.” Rachal is also an avid songwriter and music producer for young artists throughout South Florida. She is also slated to perform a one-woman show in the Winter of 2023 at the Maltz Theatre Black box under the tutelage of renowned Broadway producer Mark Keller and has just finished a run of Bridges of Madison County as Marian. Rachal served on the University of Michigan Phoenix Board for three years, one as Treasurer and is the current Auditions Coordinator for NATS Gold Coast Region.

These exceptional individuals have been selected for their dedication to music education, their outstanding achievements in their respective fields, and their commitment to fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment. They join us at an exciting time of growth and development for our school, and we are confident that their contributions will play a vital role in shaping the future of music education at FIU.

Visit music.fiu.edu to learn more the music faculty. 

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