Community Voices

Miami Music Project students perform in national Aspen festival

Some of the musicians representing the Miami Music Project at the National Take A Stand Festival in Aspen are, from left, Cesar Fernandez, Ruth Joseph, Dereck Sanguino, Christopher Gonzalez, Director of Educational Programming Steven Liu, Jose Espejo and Eduardo Clavijo.
Some of the musicians representing the Miami Music Project at the National Take A Stand Festival in Aspen are, from left, Cesar Fernandez, Ruth Joseph, Dereck Sanguino, Christopher Gonzalez, Director of Educational Programming Steven Liu, Jose Espejo and Eduardo Clavijo. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Young musicians active in the Miami Music Project got the chance to practice and perform with great conductors and youth from all over the U.S. at the National Take A Stand Festival in Aspen, Colorado.

For most of the invited 23 Miami participants, it was their first time away from home. Miami Music Project instructs children in the neighborhoods of Liberty City, Little Havana, Little Haiti and Doral. And though they were at first timid to be traveling without their families, once instruments were in their hands the students’ personalities started to shine.

Their confidence grew and they became friends with students from Juneau, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and Baltimore, to name just a few cities that sent young performers to the festival, said Maritza Diaz, Miami Music Project communications and marketing director.

“After five intense days of practice in facilities provided by the Aspen Music Festival and School, the students put together one of the opening performances of the Benedict Music Tent, the main performance space for AMFS. They played under the baton of Robert Spano, music director of both the Atlanta Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival, and Juan Felipe Morano, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestras of Los Angeles,” Diaz said.

“All of the participants were teeming with excitement to be participating in the first efforts to create a orchestra of youths from programs that focus on the social transformation through music,” Diaz said.

“The intense five days of rehearsing led to an incredibly successful performance that literally inspired children to practice in the airport while waiting for their flights,” she said. “And they will ultimately inspire each of the respective programs that they returned home to after the festival.”

The group’s mission is to use “music as an instrument for social transformation, empowering children to acquire values and achieve their full potential, positively affecting their society through the study and performance of music.”

The National Take A Stand Festival is a joint initiative of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Aspen Music Festival, and Longy School of Music of Bard College that is taking steps to create a national youth orchestra. To learn more, visit


Join the hundreds of participants who will dance, walk or run with a spirit of community in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer at the fourth annual Rock ‘N Run at 7:45 a.m. Sept. 25 at Temple Beth Am, 5950 N. Kendall Dr. Check-in begins 6:30 a.m.

The event, hosted by Beth Am and the village of Pinecrest, raised over $60,000 last year for research, awareness programs and patient support. Organizations participating include: University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center-Cancer Link, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, Women’s Breast and Heart Health Initiative and FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.

“Rock ‘N Run plays an important role in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer by bringing passionate community members together to raise awareness about the diseases, while providing education and vital resources for local organizations serving women in our community,” said Andrea Ivory of Women’s Breast and Heart Health Initiative in a release. “This effort helps to save and change lives. We are so honored to be a part of it!”

The inspiring event organizers are breast and ovarian cancer survivors and “alivers” who work along with their friends and family.

Rock ‘N Run will kick off with a warm-up led by Orangetheory Fitness, and will be followed by a scenic and certified 5K run through Pinecrest. Those participants choosing to “Rock” can join in a dance class by Zumba’s Claudine Nannini. Participants will be treated to a breakfast buffet right after their workout and an awards ceremony for the runners will follow.

Registration is a $30 donation until Sept. 21; $35 at the event. To sign up and for information about sponsorship, visit


Another lively event is the upcoming “A Morning of Political Commentary with Jim DeFede” at the Brandeis Fall Showcase and Membership Luncheon. The program starts with coffee and conversation at 10:15 a.m. Sept. 20 at Temple Judea, U.S. 1 and Granada Boulevard. Proceeds will go towards the Brandeis National Committee Scholarship Campaign at Brandeis University.

DeFede is the well-known investigative/political reporter with CBS Miami and host of the station’s Sunday morning program, “Facing South Florida.”

Reservations are due by Sept. 13. The cost is $40 and checks can be made out to BNC. Call Elaine Funk at 305-595-9245 or Barbara Bulbin at 305-274-0206.


Bring friends, students, teachers and future astronomers to the free program “New View of the Universe,” hosted by the volunteer group Southern Cross Astros and illustrated by popular Florida International University research astronomer James R. Webb. The event is at 8 p.m., Sept. 16 at the FIU Physics lecture hall CP-145, Modesto Maidique campus.

Through the latest hi-tech equipment operated by professional astronomers, you can have a ringside seat to witness the latest view of the universe. FIU remote telescopes have collected deep sky images from northern Chile and the Canary Islands that are not to be missed.

Discussion and refreshments complete this exciting program. For details and questions contact or or call 305-348-3964.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at