Point of View

Huge Crowds for the Season Kick Off
October 28, 2009, 10:06 pm
Filed under: At the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center was swirling with activities this past weekend. For the first time this season, the Center’s two large houses, the Ziff Ballet Opera House and Knight Concert Hall, hosted performances simultaneously as Adrienne Arsht Center resident companies Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony launched their 2009–2010 Adrienne Arsht Center season of programming. Meanwhile, the Center’s ambitious international performing arts festival, Tel Aviv at 100, got off to a magnificent start and the Venezuelan musician Hernan Gamboa performed music from five continents in the Carnival Studio Theater.  Adding significant buzz to the eventful weekend was the public opening of the Center’s new on-site restaurant, Prelude by Barton G

After months of mouth-watering anticipation, Prelude opened its doors on Friday night, October 23, adding new luster to the already thriving downtown dining scene and bringing full-service dining six nights a week to the Adrienne Arsht Center at long last. The restaurant was packed all weekend—each evening until the wee hours and Sunday afternoon with dance and music lovers enjoying Barton G’s artistic dishes and drinks before settling into their theater seats, followed by foodies who were making the magnificent meal itself the main attraction, and then later still with patrons who extended their Adrienne Arsht Center theater-outing with a post-show culinary treat or cocktails at the bar. Located on the second floor of the Ziff Ballet Opera House and accessible both from within the theater and directly from Biscayne Boulevard through its own entrance off the Thomson Plaza for the Arts, Prelude by Barton G was an instant hit and already the talk of the town.

And what did the nearly 7,000 people who filled the Center theaters all weekend come to see? Two of this city’s great performing arts companies in top form.

At the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Miami City Ballet opened its 24th season with the same ballet that opened the company’s first performance in 1986 – George Balanchine’s ebullient Allegro Brillante. The title of the piece says it all – it’s fast and brilliant—and Balanchine himself once described it as containing “everything I know about the classical ballet – in thirteen minutes.” It’s set to the Piano Concerto No. 3 by Tchaikovsky, whose music also inspired Balanchine to create the second piece on the program—the tour de force Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. This one is even shorter—just 8 ½ minutes of dazzling surprises and pure joy, guaranteed to bring down the house every time it’s performed. And it did just that—at all three performances.


The program concluded with Balanchine’s grandly complex and ingeniously patterned Symphony in Three Movements. It’s a large ensemble work for the entire company, danced to Stravinsky’s thrillingly jazzy score, full of remarkable walking and jogging sequences that seem as if an entire city is moving about, leading up to one of the most arresting final stage pictures ever created. The word masterpiece is thrown around pretty casually, but this piece is the real thing. Wedged into the middle of the Balanchine program, and proving that Miami City Ballet is a lot more than a neo-classical company, was Paul Taylor’s wildly entertaining Company B, set to World War II-era recordings of the Andrews Sisters, with richly varied choreography that ranges from ballet to ballroom and from Taylor’s own signature vocabulary to 1940s popular dances. It’s a piece at once exhilarating and heartbreaking, haunted by the spirits of soldiers and sweethearts who once loved each other but are no more.

Meanwhile the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, opened its third Adrienne Arsht Center season with an ode to joy—actually, the “Ode to Joy.” It’s the nickname of the famous choral finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, one of the best-known works in Western music. Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas led the combined forces of the NWS, the Master Chorale of South Florida, the University of Miami Frost Chorale and soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo Kendall Gladen, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, and bass Luca Pisaroni in this massive work. Five excerpts from Fidelio, Beethoven’s operatic ode to freedom, opened the program.

For these special performances, the New World Symphony was augmented by three guest Israeli musicians—violist Adam Klarfeld, cellist Elad Kabilio and bassist David Segal—and the October 25th concert also served as the launching of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Tel Aviv at 100 festival, a three-month tribute to the arts and culture of the first Hebrew city established in the modern era. Upcoming Tel Aviv at 100 artists include world music star Idan Raichel on November 21, Batsheva Ensemble dance group on December 5 and 6, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Pinchas Zukerman on December 16, and violinist Itzhak Perlman in recital on January 12.

There’s lots more world-class dancing and music-making to come from Miami City Ballet and the New World Symphony. Last week saw the season premieres of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Family Programs, with Marionetas de la Esquina; Cocktails and Cabaret, with Sherie Rene Scott; Celebrity Chefs, with Ingrid Hoffmann and Daisy Martinez; and Free Gospel Sundays, with special guest CeCe Winans. This week, The Color Purple takes Miami by storm for the opening of the new Broadway in Miami series. It’s safe to say the 2009 – 2010 Season is well under way, and these first few weeks of stunning performances and happy audiences will be the first of many.

My POV – Deanna Costa
October 28, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: My POV

My POV: Deanna Costa
Director, Education & Outreach


Every year Miami Dade County Public School’s Principal for the Day program invites members of the community to visit a school and shadow the principal.  It is an eye opening experience that exposes the day-to-day work that is done in schools.   What I have seen by participating these past two years adds both perspective and insight to my work here at the Center and reinforces my belief in the power of the arts as a teaching tool.

In both of the elementary schools I visited, the majority of the students are identified as minorities and most receive free or reduced priced lunch, contributing to each school “earning” Title 1 status.  I thought that because both schools had a Title 1 label the environments and student achievement would be similar, but that is not what I found.  In the school that is a magnet program which uses a curriculum featuring lessons centered around art to teach core subjects, the standardized test scores and overall grading is consistently higher than in the school using the standard curriculum.  The magnet school has won state and national awards for progress and model teaching.  My personal observation – the magnet school students, staff and principal all seemed happier and significantly more engaged in the learning process.

While the “data” I am using is qualitative and limited, it seems to me all students in every school could make exponential gains in learning if they had the opportunity and access that the arts-based learners I saw have been given.

Free Gospel Sundays Kicks off with Sunday’s Best
October 28, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Gospel Sundays

A full house of gospel music lovers packed the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall on October 18th to kick off the 2009-2010 season of Free Gospel Sundays.  Produced in partnership with Gospel AM1490 WMBM and Jubilate, this series pairs gospel music’s top recording artists with Miami-Dade’s best and brightest choirs.

The concert opened with the premiere of a short documentary film entitled “Sunday’s Best”.  Inspired by Free Gospel Sundays and commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the film was created by two local filmmakers Marlon Johnson and Chad Tingle. The documentary explores the tradition of “crowns” and features women who wear extraordinary hats to church services on Sundays. Focusing on the tradition within Miami’s own black community, the film incorporates interviews, vintage and contemporary photography and, of course, gospel music. This documentary film is the first project inspired by an Adrienne Arsht Center-presented program.

The film was followed by a powerful performance from the stellar Cooper Temple Church of God in Christ Choir, based in Miami Gardens.  Led by Pastor Marc Cooper, the Choir sang songs from its soon to be released new album, “The Upper Room”.     

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s very own Free Gospel Sundays Mass Choir took the stage next for a special set with guest artist Moses Tyson Jr., one of the greatest organ players in the field.  The choir then backed multi-award winning singer, CeCe Winans for the finale.  One of the most popular and influential artists working in contemporary gospel music, CeCe Winans graced the stage, bringing the crowd to its feet with an uplifting performance.


Free Gospel Sundays, generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, continues on December 6th, with gospel legend Richard Smallwood and Bethel Full Gospel Baptist Church

On February 21st, the Arsht Center pairs Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church with gospel music pioneers The Canton Spirituals.  

The Free Gospel Sundays season then comes to a close on April 18th with the New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Choir and Grammy award winner Vanessa Bell Armstrong.

Celebrity Chef Returns
October 28, 2009, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Celebrity Chef

The 2009-2010 season return of the CELEBRITY CHEF SERIES, presented in partnership with the recognized leader in career education, Johnson & Wales University (JWU), features internationally acclaimed chefs.  The widely popular three-part CELEBRITY CHEF SERIES features culinary arts maestros such as Ingrid Hoffmann, Anthony Bourdain and Emeril Lagasse, among several other highly recognized chefs, engaging in onstage intimate interviews, cooking demonstrations and a Q & A interaction with the audience.


However, what’s cooking behind-the-scenes is just as exciting!  One hundred JWU high-performing students indulge in this once-in-a-lifetime monumental opportunity to rub shoulders with some of their all-time favorite culinary arts greats.

“As a Culinary Arts Major at Johnson & Wales University, my experiences with the Celebrity Chef Series have been unforgettable landmarks in my collegiate career,” said Dana Beninati, a JWU student. “The opportunity to interact and cook with elite culinarians such as Daisy Martinez and Ingrid Hoffman has provided me with valuable inspiration that will continue to motivate in the pursuit of my dreams,” added Beninati.

The students feast on several up-close-and-personal experiences.  Prior to the event, the students enjoy a sit-down family style dinner with the chefs, where they get the opportunity to ask career questions and learn tricks of the trade.  During the event, students act as sous chefs—preparing the on-stage featured dishes and samples for the exclusive post-show VIP cocktail hour.  Lastly, a select group of high-achieving students share the stage spotlight with the role model chefs during the live event cooking demonstrations.


The CELEBRITY CHEF SERIES takes place at 8 P.M. in the John S. And James L. Knight Concert Hall. The next two shows take place on November 13, when Anthony Bourdain hosts Jacques Pépin and Eric Ripert, and January 9 with Emeril Lagasse

To purchase tickets or for more information on subscriptions, please contact the Adrienne Arsht Center box office at 305.949.6722 or visit www.arshtcenter.org.

Special Recognition Dinner for Founding Donors
October 28, 2009, 8:29 pm
Filed under: At the Center

On October 17, the Adrienne Arsht Center welcomed over 110 of its founding donors to thank and honor them for their help in building this world-class center for Miami. The special recognition dinner, set on the stage of the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, was part of the Arsht Center’s efforts to thank its founding donors in a meaningful way. The evening began with guests entering the Ryder System, Inc. Lobby in the Knight Concert Hall, greeted by the Center’s senior executive team and staff, and treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Donors then proceeded to walk into the hall for the intimate dinner, provided by Performing Arts Catering by Barton G. 

Knight Concert Hall Stage

J. Ricky Arriola, Chairman of the Performing Arts Center Trust Board of Directors, gave the opening remarks, followed by additional speakers, including Parker Thomson, president and CEO M. John Richard and Sherwood M. Weiser, who along with M. Anthony Burns and Ronald Esserman made a special toast thanking all of the founding donors and board members for their steadfast belief in the impact of the performing arts center. Guests were also delighted with a special performance by the Gigmeisters, a group of young musicians from the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.


John and Lynne Richard, Tony and Joyce Burns, Ron and Charlene Esserman, Woody and Judy Weiser

John and Lynne Richard, Tony and Joyce Burns, Ron and Charlene Esserman, Woody and Judy Weiser

During the dinner, John Richard  made a surprise announcement and revealed plans to permanently inscribe the Donor Recognition Walls, located in the lobbies of the Ziff Ballet Opera House and Knight Concert Hall. The donor walls are identical to each other and identify, by name, the major donors of the capital campaign, including individuals, corporations and foundations, whose extraordinary vision and unwavering support over the course of almost 20 years helped build this world-class center for Miami. The Arsht Center plans to unveil the permanent donor walls at the beginning of the center’s fifth anniversary season in 2010-11.

Neiman Marcus Coral Gables celebrates Arts Odyssey
October 28, 2009, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Gala

In anticipation of Arts Odyssey: A Collaboration on November 13, the unprecedented four-way fundraising partnership between the Adrienne Arsht Center and its resident companies, Neiman Marcus Coral Gables joined forces with the four arts organizations as well as three of Miami’s most notable non-profits for a private shopping party. Hosted by Ana-Marie and Rob Barlick for the Adrienne Arsht Center and its resident companies; Neiman Marcus Coral Gables Vice President/General Manager Stephen Brunelle; Trish and Dan Bell for the American Red Cross of Greater Miami and The Keys; Yolanda and Jeff Berkowitz for the Miami Children’s Museum and Penny and Roe Stamps for the University of Miami Frost School of Music, more than 500 guests enjoyed an evening filled with live performances, shopping and trunk shows. Guests for the evening included Arts Odyssey committee members and arts patrons such as Florida Grand Opera President Robert Heuer and Board Member Nancy Herstand, Margaret and Mike Eidson, Swanee and Paul DiMare, Ana and Alvaro Varela, Lora Drasner and Rita and Gary Wilder.

Gary and Rita Wilder, Trish and Dan Bell

Gary and Rita Wilder, Trish and Dan Bell

Guests arrived through the VIP red carpet entrances and enjoyed performances by the Florida Grand Opera and New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, a special presentation by Miami City Ballet’s Prima Ballerina Deanna Seay, a concert by the University of Miami Frost School of Music STAMPS Jazz Quintet and Musical Theatre Program and the sounds of DJ Shomi. Those in attendance were also treated to a sneak preview taste of the Adrienne’s Arsht Center’s new restaurant, Prelude by Barton G.  Cocktails were also donated by GREY GOOSE Vodka.


As guests enjoyed performances and learned about the participating organizations and their activities, there was also an opportunity for one lucky person to win a $10,000 shopping spree, generously donated by Neiman Marcus to benefit the four charities involved that evening. 

Arts Odyssey sets sail on November 13. A limited number of cabins are available. For more information, contact the Adrienne Arsht Center at 786-468-2254 or via email at odysseygala@arshtcenter.org

Prelude by Barton G
October 28, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A baby giraffe and 1,500 guests celebrated the launch of Prelude by Barton G. on the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Parker and Vann Thomson Plaza for the Arts. Prelude, which brings full-service dining to the Arsht Center six nights a week, is the latest signature restaurant designed by events impresario/restaurateur Barton G. Weiss. A New York-native and Miami institution, Weiss is renowned for his creativity both in food presentation, menu offerings and over-the-top events.

So it should be no surprise that VIP Barton G. and Center party guests were joined by his pet giraffe Geoffrey and orangutan Cooper during the festivities that included a center stage presentation of “Miami Sound” precursor Carlos Oliva and Los Sobrinos del Juez and a very special guest performance by The Pointer Sisters. Partygoers danced in the Plaza for the Arts and enjoyed appetizer and dessert buffet tables in the VIP lounge area, main hall lobby and plaza.

These guests were the first to lounge in Prelude’s plush setting, offset by customized modern light fixtures illuminating rich chocolate brown and cream décor while ethereal jellyfish floated by on hanging plasma screens. Located on the 2nd floor of the Center’s Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, Prelude brings the Barton G. experience downtown and offers gourmet cuisine, an à la carte bar menu plus South Florida’s most expansive wine list six days a week with or without a show.

The restaurant is now open to arts patrons and the general public and offers the opportunity to dine in style in the heart of Miami’s cultural hub. Guests marveled at the event’s closing fireworks and celebrated Barton G. and the Adrienne Arsht Center’s collaborative vision – the pairing of extraordinary dining and world-class performing arts for arts patrons.

PRELUDE BY BARTON G. reservations are available at www.arshtcenter.org/prelude. For further information, call 305-357-7900 or visit http://www.preludebybartong.com.

%d bloggers like this: