All About the Piano
The Miami Civic Music Association is, believe it, presenting its 81st season of live music performances this year. Founded back in 1932 with Charles Crandon as its first president, the association was one of the first and only arts organizations dedicated to presenting live music and the performing artists of the time. This weekend the MCMA presents the 14th Annual Piano Gala at the Frost School of Music, in support of the Rosalina & Harold Sackstein Piano Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from the performance on Sunday, Feb. 10 at University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall will support piano students at the Frost School. The concert will feature classics by Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and Liszt, to name a few, arranged for piano duos and as well as solo piano, performed by current faculty members and former students of Rosalina. But some performers are no longer local, and are returning to Miami just for the event. One such musician is Armen Shaomian, currently assistant professor of sport and entertainment management at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. He’s also vice president on the board of MCMA. On the road, we had a chat with him. Q: How much of the association’s mission has remained the same since its inception over eight decades ago, and how has it changed or evolved? A: The mission of MCMA has not changed much, which has always been to present quality music and rising stars to the Miami community for an affordable price. When it was founded, there were no performing arts venues in the city, and it’s believed to be Charles Crandon who pushed for the building of Miami-Dade County Auditorium, where MCMA was housed for several years. Q: The Piano Gala has been providing support through proceeds and contributions to the Sackstein Piano Scholarship Fund at the Frost School of Music. How did the relationship between MCMA and UM’s Frost School of Music come about? A: Rosalina Sackstein was the first full-time female professor hired at the Frost School of Music [formerly University of Miami School of Music]. She is now Professor Emeritus — she retired last year. Throughout her tenure at the Frost, she has served on the board of MCMA. In fact, she has been president for over 40 years. Sackstein had an idea of bringing together the faculty of the Frost School to perform for the community and did so for a cause she believed in. Her and her late husband established the fund that has helped hundreds of piano performance students attend the university. Q: As both board member and former student who will be performing at the gala, tell us about your own history in this. A: I received my Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Frost School in 2008 and have been involved ever since. It’s an honor to be able to give back to my alma mater by performing as well as being involved in the music organization that is so closely connected with the school. Over the years, hundreds of alumni and faculty have performed at MCMA concerts and it feels great to share the same stage with so many talented musicians who have contributed not only locally, but also nationally and internationally. And although I have moved out of state, I feel a strong commitment to help support a new generation of artists to Miami. In addition to the annual piano gala, MCMA will be presenting the Armenet String Quarter on March 24, violinist Zlata Grekov on April 13, and pianist Vivian Cheng on May 19. For more information and tickets for these programs and the gala, visit the MCMA at www.miamicivicmusic.org or call 786 565-8530.