For a half-century, impresaria Judy Drucker brought the greatest names in classical music to South Florida.
Her Great Artists Series enriched the cultural scene with stars including Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zubin Mehta, Beverly Sills, Cecilia Bartoli and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
On Sunday, Drucker’s friends and the classical music community will honor her with a champagne brunch and full concert at Temple Israel of Greater Miami celebrating the Great Artist Series’ 50th anniversary.
Drucker founded the Concert Association of Florida in 1967 and began hosting shows at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach.
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“I am very thankful that I am still alive to celebrate this anniversary,” Drucker, 89, wrote in an email. “It’s absolutely delightful that people remember anything that I did.”
Sunday’s tribute will mark a revival of Drucker’s famed concert series. The inaugural event will feature vocal performances from sopranos Elizabeth Caballero and Giselle Elgarresta Rios, baritone Armando Naranjo, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida and cantors Rachelle Nelson, Lisa Segal and Jodi Rozenthal.
Musical performances will include pianist Alan Mason, classical guitarist Sammy Gonzalez and violinists Michael Klotz and Scott Flavin. Sets by vocalist, violinist and fiddler Nicole Yarling and a yet-to-be named male flautist with whom Drucker has previously worked are also scheduled, according to Great Artists Series Executive Vice President Angela Shlyakhov.
Also performing will be Ana Collado, winner of the first Judy Drucker Artist of the Year Award. Collado was among several contestants ages 18-24 who competed on Oct. 17.
“We’re honoring [Drucker] with this much-deserved celebration,” Shlyakhov said. “She loves it, and we’re happy to see she’s getting the accolades she deserves.”
While this year’s competition featured only vocalists, Shlyakhov said many musical disciplines will participate in future events, including piano, guitar and dance.
“The Great Artists Series is really going back to Judy’s roots of trying to identify emerging artists,” series President Mark Bryn said. “A lot of the great names we know as the greats were really discovered by Judy. She was aware of them long before they were household names.”
Drucker’s affinity for music came early and earnestly. A child music prodigy, she studied piano at the New York College of Music and voice at The Julliard School and Curtis Institute of Music, according to her website. Starting in 1948, she performed as a coloratura soprano with the Coral Gables Philharmonic and on Broadway with the Greater Miami-Dade Opera, now known as the Florida Grand Opera.
In 2008, the state of Florida officially declared a portion of Biscayne Boulevard outside the Adrienne Arsht Center “Judy Drucker Boulevard.” (The actually street renaming took place in 2012.)
Recently, the Florida Division of Historical Resources approved an application to erect a historical marker outside of Temple Beth Sholom in December detailing some of Drucker’s many contributions. Of the approximate 950 markers throughout the state, only six currently honor individual women, according state records.
“Judy’s inclusion is very important,” Shlyakhov said. “Back in the ‘60s, it was really a men’s world. And she did this successfully for 50 years. Her inclusion in a male world — the fact she prospered in it — is very important.”
If you go
The Judy Drucker Tribute Concert and Brunch will be held at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th St., from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The concert will be from 2 to 3 p.m.
Tickets range from $18 for limited rear section seating for the concert only to $100 for the brunch and concert with VIP seating.
For more information to purchase tickets, visit www.judydrucker.com or call Mark Nedlin at 917-373-7794.