MAY 2014

This newsletter is truly about Two: 2 communities, 2 continents, 2 hemispheres - The very local communal project, Piano Slam. And the very international concert tour of Duo Yamamoto, taking them from Europe to this hemisphere, from the US into Latin America.

Let me start with the local project, Piano Slam. How do we as an organization help in creating new audiences that are open to listen to all kinds of music? Just serenading youth is not enough. We need to engage them in the process. That is what Piano Slam is about. There are great buzz words - relevance, authenticity, engagement, next-generation - but what Piano Slam really is about has to do with transformation.

Every time we reach beyond our comfort zone, we get to the place of discomfort. We may call it insecurity, stage fright, jitters, fear. Fear is good - it makes us alert, and more so, if we are willing to stay within that fear instead of running away from it or covering it up, it takes us to where we can grow.

So it is with Piano Slam. It is almost magical to see ordinary middle and high school students pour their hearts out in words, and then to see the metamorphosis of the finalists, from the first workshop to the final performance on the big stage. Fear is at both ends of that spectrum: giving your poem up to the public eye, and for the finalists, standing in front of the public as a performer. This is where the transformation comes in. This is where those young people rise to go way beyond what they think they can do. And this is how they grow.

Essential to this incredible impact are our outstanding professional workshop leaders, our poetry tutors, and our incredible stage director Teo Castellanos, who finds a way to wrestle the impossible into an organic unit. None of this would be possible without the passionate involvement of the project creator and producer, Dranoff's own Carlene Sawyer. (READ MORE about our workshop leaders)

I want to congratulate this year's crop of finalists, 17 students from public middle and high schools all over Miami-Dade County. This Saturday they will all convene at the Arsht Center Peacock Room for their first workshop in preparation for the big event on May 15th.

Please join others in a crowd funding effort by Power 2 Give to support the tutors and workshop leaders of Piano Slam 6. A click on the link and you are a supporter of this program!! Another way to support Piano Slam 6 is by getting the VIP tickets which include preferred seating and the after party with the artists at Bin 18, a few blocks north on Biscayne Boulevard.

Now, on to the other side of Two. I am writing this in a hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Arranging for the first international tour reminded me of the fact there "there are known knowns, and there are known unknowns." (Donald Rumsfeld's mental gymnastic). Music is the antithesis of warfare. And yet, preparing even such a straightforward series of concert to be successful requires strategic planning akin to having a battle plan: working at a distance not only geographically, but also in terms of work habits and customs, we are dealing with countless unknown unknowns. I must express my deepest gratitude to our wonderful agent, Rise Kern, for making this tour happen, and happen successfully!

On the proverbial road from April 25 to May 7, Duo Yamamoto will have stood on four different stages in three countries. They will have worked with people without sharing a common language. They will have met new fans, received standing ovations, exchanged greetings with ambassadors, concert presenters and supporters of the arts. They will have sampled unknown foods, experienced Nikolai Luganski's superb performance of Rachmaninoff 3, and been seduced by Argentinian Tango. They will have risen way outside their comfort zones (READ MORE and enjoy photos of tour).

Warm regards,
Gabriele Fiorentino



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