Grammy-winning artists Gloria Estefan and Joshua Bell will perform alongside student musicians and faculty at the Frost School of Music’s annual Festival Miami concert series.
A month-long event, Festival Miami begins Tuesday and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Many of the performances will be held at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall.
The concert series features several international and award-winning performers like Estefan and Bell. Shelly Berg, dean of the Frost School, said that the concerts are divided into four themes.
“Festival Miami has been presenting a wide variety of concerts, ranging from classical, jazz, Latin and contemporary, for decades now,” he said. “We began grouping them into four of the most popular themes in 2008, which has been very popular with our patrons: Great Performances, Jazz and Beyond, Music of the Americas, and Creative American Music.”
Estefan, a UM alumna and trustee, will be kicking off the festival on opening night, performing songs from her new album “The Standards.”
According to Berg, the inspiration for Estefan’s new album happened at a trustee dinner.
“As the event was wrapping up, she and I performed an impromptu version of ‘Good Morning Heartache.’ It planted a seed,” Berg said. “She had always wanted to record an album of great ‘standard’ songs that are beloved all over the world. So she asked me to arrange, co-orchestrate and coproduce the project with her husband, Emilio Estefan, and of course I was delighted to do so. It has been a wonderful collaboration.”
Estefan’s performance will give Frost students the opportunity to engage with a successful artist.
“Her upcoming performance will give Frost students a real-world opportunity to rehearse and perform with such an incredible international superstar, and will provide her with a rare opportunity to return to campus to perform in an intimate 600-seat venue, UM’s Maurice Gusman Concert Hall,” Berg said. “She usually performs in large arenas, and so returning to UM for this concert has great appeal.”
Besides the festival’s guest artists, more than 350 Frost students and faculty will perform by the end of the month, Berg said.
Sophomore Guy Manning, a tuba performance major, will be performing with the Frost Symphony orchestra, and has committed much of his time to practicing and preparing for the festival.
“Each ensemble is rehearsing usually about five to six hours a week,” he said. “So it’s quite a lot of preparation for such a short amount of time, because each concert is probably between an hour to an hour and a half.”
Fellow tuba performance major, sophomore Aidan Zimmermann, will perform in a sold-out orchestra show at the festival and is excited about the opportunity and the awareness that it will bring to the university community on the different events and programs that the Frost School is planning.
For students like junior Eric Nizgretsky, a music business and songwriting major, Festival Miami is a chance to see great performances without having to leave campus, though he thinks that the event is not publicized enough to students.
“It’s done on our campus. We get some great acts that come and some students play in it,” he said. “I recommend going because it’s so convenient. It’s one of those cultural things that happen on our campus, might as well take advantage of it.”
Nizgretsky is looking forward to seeing singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy award winner Dr. John perform.
Zimmerman also encourages students to take advantage of the experience and attend.
“It’s such a diverse cycle and they can really get exposed to some new types of music and see what’s happening in the school,” he said.
Though Berg recommends all of the performances, he suggests that students attend a sampling of the performances in each theme. In the Great Performances category, renowned violinist Bell, and bassist and composer Edgar Meyer will perform Thursday accompanied by the Frost Symphony Orchestra. In the Music of the Americas theme, Berg’s “dean’s pick” is Brazilian vocalist Paulhino Garcia who will perform Oct. 17.
“He is not well known in Miami (yet!), but his artistry is truly outstanding,” Berg said. “It is his first time performing at Festival Miami, so I hope students and faculty will take the opportunity to hear him live.”
Frost alumni and faculty will also take the stage. They include Frost alumnus Bruce Hornsby, a singer-songwriter and 13-time Grammy nominee; Scott Flavin, a violinist and conductor who lectures in Frost’s Instrumental Performance department; and Pamela McConnell, a professor of instrumental performance and violist.
Festival Miami started 30 years ago when Dean Emeritus William Hipp, assisted by the artistic adviser Jose Serebrier, thought about bringing a variety of well-known international musicians to Miami to perform with Frost students. According to Berg, Serebrier is returning to the festival this year to conduct the visiting Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 22 and 23.
Tickets are required for each concert and can be purchased online at festivalmami.com. Ticket prices vary depending on the performance. The Estefan and Bell/Meyer concerts are sold out.
There are two free shows for UM students with a Cane ID and other concerts are discounted to $10 as a student-rush ticket. The shows with free admission are Emerging Composers and the Songwriter’s Showcase on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, respectively.
For a schedule of performances, tickets and more information on Festival Miami, visit festivalmiami.com or call 305-284-4940.