Gather ‘Round immersive concert blends ethereal jazz with ambient soundscapes in Miami Beach

Written By Florencia Franceschetti
May 9, 2024 at 2:54 PM

Bandleader Michael Cantalupo with pianist Julian Bermudez in North Miami’s Criteria Studios of Gather ‘Round, an immersive musical experience on Saturday, May 11 at The Sanctuary at MBCC in Miami Beach. (Photo courtesy of Michael Cantalupo)

Miami’s multicultural dynamic manifests not only in our local cuisine, visual arts, and architecture but also in music. Gather ‘Round, an immersive experience curated by musician and filmmaker Michael Cantalupo, feeds from that dynamic. The evening of ethereal jazz blended with ambient soundscapes is set to premiere on Saturday, May 11 at The Sanctuary at MBCC, a 100-year-old church on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

Cantalupo is a multifaceted artist whose passion for music and film production has fueled his creative journey. Recently, he also made headlines for advocating to support street performers in Miami Beach.

Bassist Sami Head at North Miami’s Criteria Studios (Photo courtesy of Michael Cantalupo)

He describes the essence of Gather ‘Round as a manifestation of Miami’s evolving musical landscape: “This is a moment of shift of sound. The landscape here is ripe for a real sort of renaissance, artistically, and I think we all kind of feel it.”

Inspired by the intersection of Miami’s diverse musical heritage and the burgeoning avant-garde scene, Cantalupo conceived Gather ‘Round as a platform to showcase the city’s emerging talent. The ensemble comprises Miami musicians, including pianist Julian Bermudez, bass player Sami Head and singer Pierangela.

“Gather ‘Round was born out of an improvisational jam session,” says Bermudez. “Michael and I met at a jam session, and he had a profound sensitivity to what was happening musically in real time. We talked about some of these concepts afterward and we knew we wanted to do something more formal.”

The hope is for Gather ‘Round to transcend conventional boundaries, fueling interaction.

“My vision for Gather ‘Round is for it to embody the exploratory nature of collective improvisation, where you don’t necessarily know where the music is gonna go, but you trust in the other musicians and everybody’s ability to feel each other out,” says Bermudez.

Singer Pierangela; Saxophonist Marcelo Romero; Bassist Sami Head; Pianist Julian Bermudez; Drummer and Bandleader Michael Cantalupo preparing for the Saturday, May 11 concert. (Photo courtesy of Michael Cantalupo)

Central to the ethos of Gather ‘Round is the immersive experience it offers. Set in the candlelit ambiance of The Sanctuary at MBCC, guests will be enveloped in an intimate setting that is meant to be conducive to musical exploration.

Building a show that is inside of sacred spaces sounded really, really nice to me,” says Cantalupo. “To be able to play a show that’s immersive and intimate, but still from the second that you walk in, you feel, ‘Oh, this is different.'”

Cantalupo envisions Gather ‘Round as a transformative experience, inviting guests to embrace vulnerability and intimacy through the power of music: “My hope is that people who have never witnessed or experienced the raw spark of musical creativity and spontaneity will not only have their chance to experience it but also really get it.”

With plans to record a studio album and expand the project’s reach including a possible recurring residency, Gather ‘Round will also capture a moment in time since the event will be carefully recorded both in audio and video showcasing audience participation.

Gather ‘Round pianist Julian Bermudez (Photo courtesy of Michael Cantalupo)

“The idea is to almost have sacred music in sacred spaces. But sacred in the way that we just really care about the musicality,” says Cantalupo. “We really care about the experience, we really care about the ambiance, and our devotion is to the music.”

WHAT: World Premiere of Gather ‘Round, A Live Music Experience

WHERE: The Sanctuary at MBCC, 1620 Drexel Ave., entrance on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday, May 11

COST: $46, $56, $66, $120, not including fees

INFORMATION: 305-672-2014 or Tickets available on Eventbrite. is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at

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