Tag Archive | "frost school of music"

‘Jazz Latino’ Explores the Cuban Connection

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‘Jazz Latino’ Explores the Cuban Connection

UM News

Jazz.LatinoCORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 1, 2016) – The Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) has produced and released  “Jazz Latino,” a video that tells the story of the music genre’s connection to Cuba through interviews and performances with prominent jazz performers, producers, and musicians, including such notables as Paquito D’Rivera, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Nat Chediak, and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie.

“We felt that it was important to tell the story of Latin jazz from its infancy to its present state and to highlight the exceptional role that Cuba and Cuban musicians had in its development,” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of ICCAS. “It is a testament to Cuban creativity and talent.”

The 31-minute Spanish-language video is narrated by Jorge Sotolongo, a Cuban-American filmmaker and journalist who created the video and conducted several of the interviews. Using archival footage, historical pictures, and original interviews, the film chronicles the history of jazz, beginning with the blending of African roots and European and American influences and how it morphed into what today is known as Latin jazz.

In a candid interview, Frost School of Music Professor Raul Murciano details how  jazz Latino originated from different African rhythms slaves brought to Cuba, and how it was later married to European classical music and other American genres, such as spirituals and blues. The film provides a comprehensive overview of the jazz era and its influencers, including short performances by Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Ed Calle, and de Rivera.

The video features a seminal interview with Gillespie, in which the legendary jazz trumpeter reminisces about meeting Luciano Pozo González, better known as “Chano Pozo,” the famous Afro-Cuban percussionist and composer with whom Gillespie created Latin jazz.

The video is available for sale for $20 by contacting ICCAS at 305-284-2822 or iccas@miami.edu .





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Frost Wind Ensemble Selected for Prestigious Performance

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Frost Wind Ensemble Selected for Prestigious Performance

UM News

frost wind ensembleCORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 3, 2016) — The Frost Wind Ensemble is one of nine ensembles from around the country selected through a blind audio recording adjudication process to perform next March at the College Band Directors National Association Conference in Kansas City’s renowned Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. “This year was particularly competitive in part due to the location,” said Robert Carnochan, the ensemble’s director and conductor. Guest solo artists, including Frost School of Music faculty Margaret Donaghue, on clarinet, and Svetoslav Stoyanov, on percussion, will join about 60 students for their performance.

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Frost Online Among Musical America’s Best

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Frost Online Among Musical America’s Best

By Andres Tamayo
UM News

 Frost.OnlineCORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 8, 2016)—For the second year in a row, Musical America has included the Frost School of Music in its annual “Special Report: A Guide to Music Schools.” The Frost School joins 37 other distinguished music schools and conservatories from around the world in the 2015-16 guide.

The list, which was compiled based on online education in music schools, highlights the Frost Online program. The program, which started with three students in August 2014, will graduate its first class in May. “My colleagues and I are thrilled to be a part of this distinguished list and enthusiastic about the future growth of the Frost Online program,” Frost School Dean Shelly Berg said.

Frost Online has grown rapidly and now offers two complete master’s degrees in music business—a Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries and a Master of Arts in Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management. Both programs draw industry professionals from around the U.S. Soon, offerings will continue to grow with certificate programs and additional degree tracks.

“Since our inception in 1926, students have looked to the Frost School of Music as a place where they can grow and learn from some of the best music professors in the world,” Dean Berg said. “The Frost Online program provides those same high-quality, high-touch experiences in the online space.”

For more than 100 years, Musical America Worldwide has been the voice of the performing arts industry. Musical America provides the digital and print touch points for performing arts professionals to reach out to each other to further their art and their businesses.



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UM’s Brothers Grim Are Sundance Bound

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UM’s Brothers Grim Are Sundance Bound

By Julia D. Berg
UM News


From left, co-directors Eric Mainade, Andres Meza-Valdes, and Diego Meza-Valdes are headed to the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to screen their horror short.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 13, 2016) – University of Miami School of Communication alumni The Meza Brothers, a.k.a. Andres Meza-Valdes, B.S.C. ’09, and Diego Meza-Valdes, B.S.C. ’09, are headed to the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to showcase Boniato, their 23-minute short horror film featuring migrant workers on a boniato (sweet potato) farm who cross borders into a supernatural world, a metaphor for the murky underground network into which many undocumented workers fall.

This is the Meza Brothers’ eighth short in the horror genre and the first they’ve co-directed with seasoned stuntman/action director Eric Mainade, who came up with the initial story concept.

Excitement was running high in December as news of Boniato’s selection by Sundance—launched by Hollywood legend Robert Redford and held annually in January in Park City, Utah—rippled through Miami’s indie film community.

“All I kept yelling was ‘No! No!,” recounts Andres Meza-Valdes, 31, about the moment he heard the official news by phone from Lucas Leyva of the Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative funded in part by the Knight Foundation to help seed interdisciplinary collaboration and regional filmmaking in Miami.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Meza-Valdes said. “I was with my parents, so they got the scoop firsthand, which is cool because it was nice to share the moment with them. Then, I called my girlfriend. You know, the important people in my life who have contributed for so many years and had to put up with the craziness and stress that come with making an independent film in Miami!”

His co-director and younger brother, Diego, 30, admits he “cried, for real” upon receiving the news. “It’s the coolest thing to happen to our career so far.”

Boniato is one of just eight short films selected for screening January 22-29 in the Midnight Shorts category at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. A total of 72 short films will be screened, selected from 8,712 short film submissions; 123 feature-length films were selected from 12,793 submissions.

The siblings had to wait a few weeks for the official announcement. “It was a bit of torture,” said Andres. “We even thought at any minute one of our friends was going to reveal it was all a big prank. When it became public, it felt like a sigh of relief. We called everyone: the actors (Carmela Zumbado, Felix Cortes, Alex Garay), our DP, ADs, PAs, friends, extended family, haters on the Internet. I even wrote to one of my heroes, [director/producer] Michael Bay. He doesn’t know who I am, but I wanted to tell everyone who inspired and/or helped me out.”

The Boniato project—singled out for awards last year at the Diabolique International Film Festival, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Fright Night Horror Weekend, and Freakshow Film Festivalbenefitted from having an experienced producer, fellow alumnus Cory Czajkowski, B.S.C. ’07, on the team. “Cory is a special dude,” said Andres. “On top of being producer, he works on the sound, and with horror/action this is so important.”

In addition, two UM Frost School of Music jazz alumni, Adam Robl, ’07, and Shawn Sutta, B.M. ’09, composed the music tracks for the film. “These guys are just A-plus talent,” said Andres. “They really helped make the whole movie feel ‘big’ and delivered a production value we could only dream of achieving.”

For those squeamish about watching horror films, Diego suggests the genre is innate in fairy tales. “Our culture has always been fascinated with dipping our toes in fear. So when people say they aren’t fans of horror, I always ask if they’ve seen Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.”

Diego explains that when shooting Boniato, the team was striving to create a plot that is more similar to the European or Asian style, where tension builds more gradually than in typical American horror flicks. “We wanted to create an entertaining horror roller coaster, using socially relevant content, driven by fantasy.” To add to the film’s intrigue, there is purposely very little dialogue during the first five minutes; then all of the dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

“We like to call it ‘theater in front of the lens,’ ” said Diego. “For Boniato, Eric Mainade brought in his amazing stunt team to perform acrobatic action, high-flying choreography, and horror sequences—but he was also making sure to give the characters true motivations, and making them feel grounded. That way, the audience cares about what they’re watching.”

Mainade came up with the original script concept while driving to a movie shoot on the small ranch he and a fellow stuntman lease amid the massive, commercial fields in southwest Miami-Dade County.

“Day after day, I witness all sorts of surreal moments out in the fields—from barefoot Haitians working in horrid conditions, to little kids working all day in the elements. Every character in this movie was inspired by the countless faces in these very fields,” he said.

The Miami-based Borscht Corp. hooked him up with The Meza Brothers, and the three fleshed out the script, with a production estimate of $14,000. Borscht Corp. provided some initial financing and a few production aides, and introduced them to cinematographer Antal El Hungaro. “Beyond that,” Mainade explains, “it was a family affair, with my wife, Kristina, as the production manager; Diego’s wife, Veronica, in charge of wardrobe; as well as numerous other friends and family doing whatever needed to be done.”

After Sundance, the team plans to adapt Boniato into a feature.

As a youngster, Andres was drawn to exploring the horror genre. Diego was quick to join in his brother’s pursuit. “I’m the classic little brother who tailed after my big brother. My brother and I have been directing films together for so long, it’s almost as if each of us has evolved into the counterpart of the other. He was always including me in his love, so as a brother I am forever grateful for that.”

Andres describes his younger brother as relentless, honest, and giving. “Diego is an editing machine,” Andres said. “He looks at film in a radically different way than me, and I love that. He puts the film together in his head when on set.”

Reflecting on how the School of Communication prepared them for a career in motion pictures, Andres is effusive. “Oh my God—in so many ways. Ed Talavera, Christina Lane, Jeffery Stern, Tom Musca—these professors changed our lives.” Diego has continued his connection to the University and works as a videographer in University Communications.

This is not their first award-winning work, but it is their first time at Sundance.

“We were not expecting this at all,” said Andres. “Horror isn’t the most respected of genres and after making eight shorts we’ve sort of made peace with the fact that a lot of mainstream outlets just aren’t interested in these types of films. On the other hand, the genre also has it’s own ecosystem and community that we love being a part of.”


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Frost Artists Nominated for Grammys


Frost Artists Nominated for Grammys

By Andres Tamayo
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 17, 2015)—The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music shined last week as two faculty and three alumni received nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be announced on February 15. Dean Shelly Berg, a pianist-arranger-composer and the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music, garnered his fourth Grammy nomination in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” category. Professor Gonzalo Rubalcaba and alumni Robert and Michael Rodriguez, better known as The Rodriguez Brothers, were each nominated in the “Best Latin Jazz Album” category. Alumna Maria Schneider earned two nominations—in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” and  “Large Jazz Ensemble Album” categories.


Dean Shelly Berg

An accomplished pianist in both classical and jazz styles, Berg is a Steinway piano artist and recording artist for Concord Music Group and Universal Music Classics. He is also the host of Generation Next on Sirius XM satellite radio. Berg was previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at USC Thornton School of Music and past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.”

“It is an incredible honor to be nominated for another Grammy Award,” Berg said. “I am so proud to be joining Michael, Robert, and Gonzalo as representatives of the Frost School of Music. Being able to watch young artists grow and learn here at UM and take their career to incredible heights is a true honor.”

The Rodriguez Brothers, co-led by pianist/composer Robert and trumpeter/composer Michael, received their nomination for their album, Impromptu (Criss Cross Jazz). Inspired by their father, who is a drummer, they began musical training at a very young age and both received full scholarships to the University of Miami. Michael finished his bachelor’s degree at the New School for Jazz Studies in New York City and Robert, after receiving his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at UM, soon followed to New York. The brothers have individually worked as sidemen for artists such as Roy Haynes, Charlie Haden, Ray Barretto, Eddy Palmieri, David Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Locke, Carla Bley, Bob Minzter, Harry Conick Jr., Christian Mcbirde, Richard Bona, Quincy Jones, and fellow nominee Gonzalo Rubalcaba.


Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Rubalcaba is a lecturer in the Frost School’s Department of Studio Music and Jazz and is a multi-Grammy Award and Latin Grammy Award-winning Cuban jazz pianist and composer. His latest nomination comes for his work on the album Suite Caminos (5Passion). Born in post-revolutionary Havana and into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country’s artistic past, his music is inspired by his culture. He earned his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1983 and was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1985 while playing in the clubs and music halls of Havana. Soon after, he made his way to the U.S. and landed in South Florida in 1996. His illustrious career has included recording with his own groups for several major labels, including 11 albums for Blue Note, and also with jazz luminaries Ignacio Berroa, Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Charlie Haden, David Sanchez, and many others. He also has been nominated twice for Billboard’s Latin Jazz Album of the Year.

Schneider and her orchestra are nominated for their collaboration with David Bowie on “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” and for their 2015 album, The Thompson Fields. Schneider has multiple previous Grammy nominations and three wins to her credit in the classical and jazz genres. The Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed worldwide, and Schneider has commissioned works and performed as a guest conductor for more than 85 groups from over 30 countries.

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