Community Voices

Music scholarship winners shine and help families honor loved ones

The young winners of the third annual Homestead Community Concerts’ Music Scholarship Showcase are, from left, Justin Veira, Valentina Salazar, Ian Barnett, Lindsey Yang, Sophia Molina and James Leng.
The young winners of the third annual Homestead Community Concerts’ Music Scholarship Showcase are, from left, Justin Veira, Valentina Salazar, Ian Barnett, Lindsey Yang, Sophia Molina and James Leng.

There were “breathtaking performances, emotional speeches, and a final commission to all the winners to use their platform to help others in the community” May 13 at the Homestead Community Concerts third annual Music Scholarship Showcase.

The scholarships earned by musicians, ages 18 and under, are donated by residents to help spread the joy of music and to honor loved ones.

“One of our donors presented the Lois Burgay Memorial Scholarship in honor of her mother who was the organist for the Seminole Theatre in 1925 and 1926 for silent movies,” said Tony Seepersad, HCC Scholarship Chair, in email. “Another was given by Dr. Linda Fagan who delivered a poignant message of hope on behalf of all three of her brothers who died of cystic fibrosis.”

“It showcased once again the extraordinary talent being fostered in our community,” he said. “Due to a brilliant display last year all scholarships this year were funded by private donors who saw the value it has in our city. Some of the donors gave in honor of the spirit of music and its transformative effect on a community, while others gave in honor of loved ones who have passed.”

Christina Mayo CHARLES TRAINOR JR. Miami Herald File

The young winners are James Leng, first place and winner of the Carmen Seepersad Memorial Scholarship; Justin Veira, second place and winner of the Ronald, John, William Chiapetta Memorial Scholarship; and Lindsey Yang, third place and winner of the Leichner Family Celebration of Music Scholarship.

“Our three honorable mention winners ranged from 12 to 14 years of age. Fourteen-year-old violinist Sophia Molina made her debut in Carnegie Hall last year and 12-year-old violinist and composer Ian Barnett is set to make his Carnegie debut in the fall. Fourteen-year-old violinist Valentina Salazar has also been winning local and state competitions and is on a trajectory to winning national awards,” Seepersad said.

There was a dinner on the terrace after the performances for audience members to meet the winners and to celebrate a wonderful community event, he said. To learn more and to donate to help young musicians write Seepersad at

Stables in the Gables

Did you know there was a riding academy and show ring for horses in Coral Gables back in the day? Soon there will be an historical marker to remind us all.

From 1930 to 1952, the Gazlay family managed the Coral Gables Riding Academy. They brought the beauty of horses and the excitement of horse shows to residents, said Karelia Carbonell of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables. Some of the horses at the Academy were well known.

“Silver, a pure white Arabian stallion, famous as the mount of the Lone Ranger in the movies, was the star at local events and parades, during which he was shod in special rubber shoes, to provide for surer footing on pavement,” Carbonell said.

“The Academy’s Sunday breakfast rides were a weekly social event during the 1930s and 1940s,” she said. “The rides wound through the Gables’ trails. When the riders reached ‘open country’ –now the Riviera section of Coral Gables—they ate breakfast under the trees.”

Everyone is invited to attend when HPACG marks the spot at a free dedication ceremony and the installation of a marker 11 a.m. June 6 at 2320 Salzedo St. There will be a hospitality table hosted by Ruth's Chris Steak House. This will be the 65th anniversary of the closing of the academy.

RSVP to and learn more at about this group at

Student athletes awarded

Six students were recognized for their achievements in academics and sports at the annual Miami-Dade County Public Schools Scholar Athlete Luncheon. The Junior Orange Bowl awarded four scholarships to students participating in tennis, golf, cross country, or basketball, and two additional scholarships were given to students in tennis.

Michelle Benitez-Bermudez, 2017-18 president of the Junior Orange Bowl, gave scholarships to Briana Morales, John A. Ferguson Senior High School, 5.1 GPA, Basketball and Badmitton; Manuel Linarte, Cutler Bay Senior High, 4.6 GPA, Cross Country and Water Polo; Alina Mizrahi, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, 5.2 GPA, Cross Country and Soccer; Andrew Uria, Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior High, 5.0 GPA, Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, and Bowling.

Benitez-Bermudez also presented the Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Scholarships to Emily Janina Perrata of South Miami Senior High, 3.8 GPA, and to Ryan Floyd of Miami Killian Senior High, 4.9 GPA.

This scholarship program awards over $10,000 in scholarships each year to Florida high school and middle school students and student-athletes.

The Junior Orange Bowl is about to begin its 69th festival season. The 2017-18 festival will include more than 15 athletic, academic, and cultural events for youths. One of the highlights is the Junior Orange Bowl Parade through downtown Coral Gables, this year scheduled for Nov. 26.

Festival events are produced entirely by volunteers. To learn how you can be part of the Junior Orange Bowl team, call 305-662-1210 or email

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