Orchestra Miami: All Local All the Time
When Miami native Elaine Rinaldi was asked in 2006 to help start Orchestra Miami, the conductor and pianist asked herself what seems like a trick question: Why does Miami need an orchestra? In a city inundated with music, the answer did not come easy, but it came, and it makes perfect sense. “What I’m trying to achieve with Orchestra Miami is to find musical events that fill the void, so to speak,” Rinaldi explained during a recent interview at University of Miami, where she works as a vocal coach. “We’re doing stuff that Miami doesn’t have a lot of, such as specialised events that fit special interests like opera, vocal music, and chamber music.” One such concert is Orchestra Miami’s upcoming celebration of the bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth in 1813. Verdi is regarded as one of the most important and influential opera composers in history, primarily due to his innovations in form and orchestral writing, not to mention catchy tunes that have even crossed over to popular culture. Rinaldi is calling the concert Viva Verdi, and it might not be what you’d expect. “We often hear many of Verdi’s operatic works,” Rinaldi points out, “but we don’t often hear his songs, or some of his instrumental works.” Which is why she asked the Delray String Quartet, whose members also play with Orchestra Miami, to perform Verdi’s one and only string quartet. In addition, Rinaldi has assembled a 45-member choir especially for this concert, which will sing Laudi alla Vergine Maria from Verdi’s Quattro Pezzi Sacri (Four Sacred Pieces) as well as famous choruses from his operas. Other highlights will include arias sung by renowned artists such as mezzo-soprano Robynne Redmon, bass-baritone Kevin Short, soprano Elizabeth Beers Kataria and tenor Lievens Castillo, as well as seldom performed songs like “Stornello” and “L’esule,” which are as well crafted and grandiose as some of his best arias, all accompanied by Rinaldi at the piano. This might seem like an awful lot of personnel for one performance. When asked Rinaldi how on earth she can afford to bring in all these artists, she boasted: “They’re all local!” Orchestra Miami prides itself in hiring only local professional musicians. When the Florida Philharmonic went bankrupt in 2003, it left its members to fend for themselves as freelancers. “Some of the other groups bring in players from out of state,” Rinaldi says, “and that’s totally fine, but we feel really strongly that our local professionals are our best asset and we want people to see how good they are.” For three years now, Rinaldi has showed off her musicians opening Orchestra Miami’s seasons with a chamber music concert in the intimate, 100-seat Community Room at the Coral Gables Museum. With Rinaldi at the piano, Orchestra Miami members perform works by composers whose music will be played by the orchestra later in the season. “It’s a nice up close and personal way to say hello and start things off.” Now in its seventh season, Orchestra Miami is the resident orchestra at Pinecrest Gardens (formerly Parrot Jungle), which houses the Banyan Bowl, a 531-seat, raked open-air amphitheater covered by a geodesic dome. The Bowl serves as the orchestra’s quarters, where Viva Verdi will take place. “Come out and support your local orchestra,” Rinaldi urges. “We’re happy to serve you.” Orchestra Miami’s upcoming concert Viva Verdi will take place on Sun., Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m. at Pinecrest Gardens’ Banyan Bowl, 11000 S.W. 57th Ave., Pinecrest; tickets $25/$30 ($20 for seniors and $5 for students with valid ID); orchestramiami.org.