Dear Friends -

This newsletter focuses on PIANO SLAM 11, which Dranoff will co- present with the Arsht Center in a little over two weeks. But I also want to reflect back on the concert in January at the New World Center, The Ocean’s Soul, featuring Maarten Van Veen and Ralph Van Raat.

So many good things to share!

Saturday, rehearsals for PIANO SLAM 11 have officially begun with the first workshop of the poetry contest Finalists and their coaches.
We spent four hours in the Black Box space at the Arsht Center, amidst 16 student poets and their 4 coaches. Each group was doing something different, from pouring over their poems, to discussing visions for their lives, doing body work, exercising facial muscles, yelling out silly syllables, getting to know the others from all over Miami Dade County. The purpose: get to know their bodies and voices, and build trust in their group, the group that is the core part of the ensemble that we will all enjoy on February 28. All this in preparation for the first full rehearsal with director Ilana Toeplitz next week.

It felt strange to most participants, with one exception: Christopher Badillo, now 11th grade, had gone through this before, in 2016, as part of PIANO SLAM 8. When I pulled out photos and showed him (Dropbox is wonderful!), he giggled: “I was so small. Oh, and I was so shy!” Not anymore. His confidence and engagement with the group suggests he will be a sort of mentor to the others.

The show is about My Music. My Ocean. Miami - a story woven around the music and the poems, told by the persona of the Goddess Yemaya , the goddess Mother of the oceans, one of the divine trinity of Yoruba gods.
The music will spread the arc from Copland, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Debussy via the Latin jazz composer Martin Bejerano to Drake, Kendrick Lamar and other sources. All this woven together by the choreography of Augusto Soledade of Brazzdance.

And of course the poetry. Here are stanzas from three poems.

My Music -
Beeping, keeping the tempo even when it changes key,
Clicking, hearing your friend texting rhythmically,
Ticking, like your clock at your bedside playing a jig to wake you up,
Does it really take this much to separate human from a not-live being,

You-tube, Instagram, like the beginning of an anthem singing ,
Face-book, Twitter, Snapchat, you hear the bells ringing,
All these examples of well-known media,
But what is not known is that these places can be like a rhapsody.
[Kayra Serpenguzuel Grade 6]

My Ocean - 
She carried us from our seclusion
She protected us like a mother
The living ocean
Her warm calm winds like harmonious notes
My heart rising with the rhythm of el ito lele, okonkolo,
Just for her, as she safely carried us to our new home
She said, live for me.
[Osviel Brache, 9th Grade]

Miami -
A stoic expanse of structures,
stretching beyond the eye reaches to see.
A whirlwind of cultures together in harmonic chaos.
Interacting. Growing. Flourishing alongside one another.
Alive in the air of freedom.
Lost in the bursting swirls of colors,
of greens and blues and a million shades never discovered.
A rhythmic hum echoing through the city.
[Isabel Papp. 7th Grade]

Scroll down for more information on the artists who make up the PS11 ensemble. Between the piano Duo Stephanie & Saar, the mezzo soprano Amanda Crider, Dj Cardi and Brazzdance, the show will be brilliant and fun. Tickets

Just a short thank you to our transportation sponsor, HOVIT. They are the newest ride share company in Miami, and quite a bit different from the others. Thank you for underwriting the safe transport of our finalists!

The Oceans Soul concert on January 13 was breathtaking visually, and emotionally transcendent. In the section further down you can see some photos and read some of my "mullings", which recall other people's reactions

I look forward to see you at the Arsht Center on Thursday, the 28th.


Gabriele Fiorentino
President, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation Board



Steinway & Sons The Dranoff Twitter The Dranoff Facebook