Elaine Rinaldi is that rarity, a born-and-raised Miamian in a city whose people come from all over the world. In her creative world, she stands out too, as founder and artistic director of the 9-year-old Orchestra Miami. This weekend, she’ll pick up her baton again to lead the musicians in three performances of Peter and the Werewolf, a Halloween-themed version of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
The concerts launch Orchestra Miami’s Family Fun Concert Series, which speaks to one of Rinaldi’s core beliefs.
“I can’t imagine a life without music in some form or other. It has helped me through the worst and best of times,” she says. “The ability to enjoy great music is not a privilege that should be reserved for a few. My goal is to do everything possible to make sure that we as a community always have access to great, live classical music.”
Even as a little girl, Rinaldi loved music, begging her parents to let her take piano lessons. She started at age 5, and by the time she was 12, she was a pupil of the great Rosalina Sackstein and practiced three to four hours a day. At Southwest Miami Senior High, she continued playing while also singing and appearing in musicals (and winning a Silver Knight Award). She made her professional debut as a pianist at 16.
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Rinaldi earned a bachelor of music degree in piano performance from the University of Miami and a master’s from New York’s Mannes School of Music. She was poised for a great career as a pianist when, a year after earning her master’s, a car hit her while she was riding her bicycle. She was so badly injured that she could no longer practice and perform at her former level. So she poured her passion into conducting, apprenticing with great singers and conductors, traveling the country and the world, building a reputation as a first-rate conductor of operas and orchestras.
Orchestra Miami was launched in 2006 “to build community and educate through music” as well as provide fine musicians with full-time jobs, Rinaldi says. That last is a work in progress, but Rinaldi remains determined.
“The foundation and backbone of any orchestra is its musicians — who, by the way, are the ones who live here, pay their taxes, teach your children and contribute to our economy in a million other ways — so without the stability of a regular paycheck, it means that life as a musician in South Florida is extremely difficult,” she says.
Future Family Fun concerts at Pinecrest Gardens (other dates/locations to be announced) are The Story of Babar the Elephant, with music by Francis Poulenc and narration in English and Spanish, on Feb. 7; Coppélia for Kids featuring the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida with the orchestra March 20; Witches, Wizards, Spells & Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare, with Shakespeare Miami and the orchestra April 24; and Brundibár, the opera by Hans Krása, May 15.
“We aren’t just introducing kids to symphonic music, so there’s an opportunity for them to become curious about lots of things,” Rinaldi says, “and hopefully want to hear more!”
If you go
What: Orchestra Miami’s ‘Peter and the Werewolf’ featuring Neil Tobin.
Where: Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, 1410 NE 215th St., Aventura; Divine Savior Academy, 10311 NW 58th St., Doral; Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57th Ave., Pinecrest.
When: 1 p.m. Oct. 31 (Krop High), 4 p.m. Oct. 31 (Divine Savior), 4 p.m. Nov. 1 (Pinecrest Gardens).
Cost: $15 adults, $10 students.
Information: 305-274-2103 or www.orchestramiami.org.