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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..

Saxophonist Melissa Aldana Opens Coral Gables Summer Concert Series

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Written by: Tracy Fields
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Melissa Aldana is the first woman instrumentalist and the first South American artist to win jazz’s prestigious Thelonius Monk competition. Which distinction is more important to her? Neither.

“I know actually it means a lot for my community, South American people, and also being a female, especially in these days,” says the 29-year-old, who opens this year’s summer concert series at the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ on Thursday. “It means a lot that I won it. But to me you know music always felt like something that doesn’t have genders, it doesn’t have cultural borders.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m from Chile or Japan. It’s all about your experiences and what you have to say.”

Known since her 2013 Monk victory for her work with Crash Trio, Aldana in South Florida will be doing something different: playing as part of a quartet, with the addition of a piano.

She says she worked in the trio format for years because it was what she felt she needed musically, to develop the strength that comes from playing with just the bass and drums.

“But now with piano I’m bringing some new material and I’m just working toward what is going to be my next project, which is actually going to be quintet,” with trumpet.

Aldana is a third-generation saxophonist. Her father and early teacher, Marcos Aldana, preceded her in the Monk competition in 1991. Until recently she performed with a horn that had belonged to her grandfather, well known in Chile, Enrique Aldana.

She describes the jazz scene in her homeland, from which she moved 10 years ago to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, as small but growing.

“There are not that many musicians, but the few that are there, they’re great,” she says. “There are more jazz clubs, people are more aware of the music, it’s more common for artists to record albums. I think that it is something that is developing slowly through time.” She hopes her success will inspire younger Chilean musicians.

Thursday will be one of Aldana’s first outings with the quartet, which includes Pablo Menares on bass, drummer Jochen Rueckert, and Glenn Zaleski at the piano. She says concertgoers “are just going to experience what is new for Melissa.” It’ll be kind of a preview of the album she plans to record in 2018. But they can expect the tried and true, too.

“I always put a standard in the middle,” Aldana says with an audible smile.

Melissa Aldana performs on at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables. Admission $35 general, $50 patron, which includes a pre-concert reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets at communityartsprogram.org/tickets/;or 304-448-7421 ext. 153.

 


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About The writer

Tracy Fields is a reporter, writer and host of Evenin' Jazz

A member of the South Florida media for more than two decades, Tracy Fields has been a reporter/editor for The Associated Press and a freelance wordsm..

About the Writer

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