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Getting into a true holiday spirit can be tough in South Florida, where palm trees, expansive beaches and balmy skies signal perpetual summer. Ever-earlier store décor and the incessant push to buy presents – more about commercialism than celebration – can make many of us feel more anxious than festive. Not to worry. Just squeeze in a trip to Miami’s Arsht Center, where City Theatre h..

One of the centerpieces of this year’s Art Week is not a static art work, and it is also one of the most sensuous and disorienting. Lebanese performance artist Tania El Khoury is producing her “Gardens Speak” for the week, courtesy of MDC Live Arts, a piece that has been applauded in cultural capitals throughout Europe and the United States. “It is a work,” she says, “that can only co..

Since its founding in 1996, City Theatre has been an important part of South Florida’s theatrical landscape, though the company’s visibility has always been highest in the month of June. That’s when its popular Summer Shorts festival takes place; for more than a decade, its high-profile venue has been the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. Though the company founded by S..

If you were to predict who might become a nationally famous – OK, world-famous – multiplatform sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer would probably not be your first choice. Born in Germany in 1928 as Karola Ruth Siegel, the 4’7” Dr. Ruth seems more like the doting Jewish grandmother she is than a woman who used her nationally syndicated radio show, TV shows and 40-some books to help hun..

Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002. But as Zoetic Stage’s superb new production of the play at Miami’s Arsht Center demonstrates, her funny, shocking tale of two brothers struggling to survive is as potent today as it was 15 years ago. Maybe more so, given the country’s deepening divide. Parks’ harrowing drama examines the complex relation..

We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..

It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..

As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..

Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..

Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..

It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..

It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

Judy Drucker and the Great Artist Series Revival

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Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Drucker, on her 50th Anniversary of bringing classical music and dance to South Florida -- and to introduce the revival of Drucker’s Great Artist Series.
As a young artist Drucker had studied piano at the New York College of Music, as well as voice at The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. She was a coloratura soprano with the Coral Gables Philharmonic Symphony in 1948 and later performed with the Greater Miami-Dade Opera, which is now known as the Florida Grand Opera. Drucker had left the stage early in her career to raise a family, but by the late 1960s had planted the seed for a multi-decade presenter for the performing arts in South Florida that is being celebrated now, half a century later.
In 1967, Drucker founded the Great Artists Series in Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach under the guidance of Rabbi Leon Kronish. Her series presented such national and international artists as Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, and many more. Her lecture and concert series also presented young, emerging artists of the time such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plácido Domingo, and Itzhak Perlman.
She later founded the Concert Association of Florida, which brought world-renowned performances, including the Three Tenors and the famous Jan. 22,1995 performance of the Luciano Pavarotti on the Beach Concert with an audience of over 200,000 people.
The revival of Great Artists Series is spearheaded by Bryn, Drucker’s friend and attorney, and the series will debut Sunday, Nov. 19 with a brunch and 50th Anniversary concert honoring Drucker.
Angela Shlyakhov, executive vice president of the series, said that this revival was conceived as far back as 2007 when the Concert Association of Florida’s board of directors voted Drucker out as president of the board after nearly 40 years of bringing outstanding programming to South Florida. But now seemed the perfect time to revive it in honor of Drucker’s work and dedication to the arts in South Florida.
Shlyakhov shared that the focus of the new Great Artist Series will be to present and produce young talent, instead of well-known, established artists.
“We want to present local and national young artists, but also make the performing arts more affordable and accessible to reach underserved communities and various cultural locations and neighborhoods. In honor of the 50th anniversary we plan a 50/50 program to offer programs at half off.”
Artburst asked her about the event.
Artburst: How do you find the new talent you wish to present and support?
Through scouting and through local competitions such as the vocal one we just did. And soon we will expand to have piano competitions, dance, and so on.
On Oct. 17, the Great Artist Series presented the inaugural 2017 Judy Drucker of the Year Award vocal competition free of charge at Temple Israel, where 12 young artists competed for the award; first place winner Ana Collado and second place winner Dancing Via will be performing in the upcoming event.
How many of this series are you planning to produce next year?
As many as possible. We are also looking for out-of the-box performances like “Opera on the Beach.” We are also looking for non-theatrical, site-specific venues.”
What is the up next?
Similar to the 2008 dedication [of Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th street near the Arsht Center as the Judy Drucker Boulevard], we just received approval from Tallahassee to mount an historical marker outside of Temple Beth Shalom in December.
It is interesting to note that out of 950 historical markers in Florida, only 6 markers are currently devoted to notable women who have made a difference to Florida.
Along with biographical information on Drucker’s impressive life and impact on the arts in South Florida, the marker will memorialize her motto, “I need culture to live.”

The Great Artists Series will debut Nov. 19 at 2:00 p.m., Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th St., Miami. Artists performing include the Amernet String Quartet, soprano Giselle Elgarresta Rios, pianist Alan Mason, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida. There will be a preconcert brunch at 11:30 a.m. For tickets, http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=i66tne8ab&oeidk=a07eemubm9d60b79f35.

 


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Performance arts writer, singer, songwriter, author

Miguel Angel Estefan Jr. who commonly goes by Mickey, is a singer, songwriter, thespian, dancer, musician, and writer. A Miami Beach native, Migue..

About the Writer

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