Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Orchestra Miami opens season at Coral Gables Museum

Concert Patrons Drs. Marino and Karelia Carbonell with Orchestra Miami Founder and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi celebrate music and love at the Coral Gables Museum.
Concert Patrons Drs. Marino and Karelia Carbonell with Orchestra Miami Founder and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi celebrate music and love at the Coral Gables Museum.

It was a night of standing ovations and long applause when Orchestra Miami opened its ninth season with an intimate concert at the Coral Gables Museum. The event featured performances by lauded soloists and the orchestra performing alongside Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi.

Concert Patron and Orchestra Miami Board Member Karelia Martinez Carbonell and her husband Marino Carbonell supported the event in honor of the recent marriage of their son Brenden Marino Carbonell and Shelsea Anne Pedersen.

“We dedicated the night in honor of our son’s recent wedding nuptials and the music program was perfectly chosen for the occasion. What can be more romantic than the music of Romeo and Juliet? My husband and I are proud to support Miami’s best local orchestra — Orchestra Miami,” Karelia Caronell said in an email.

Performing the timeless works of Mozart, Beethoven, Poulenc and Prokofiev, Orchestra Miami musicians accompanied virtuoso performances by several soloists.

Mei Mei Luo, one of South Florida’s finest violinists, played selections from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev. Cellist Aaron Merritt, winner of numerous awards, played Beethoven accompanied by Rinaldi on piano.

Violist Richard Fleischman, a graduate of the Juilliard School and winner of the Windsor Prize, played Prokofiev.

The Woodwind Quintet played Francis Poulenc. Those musicians included Elissa Lakofsky, flute; Erika Yamada, oboe; Richard Hancock, clarinet; T. Geoffrey Hale, bassoon; and Sharon Janezic, horn.

Orchestra Miami will perform a Holiday “Pops” Concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57th Ave. Get the family into the spirit of the season with holiday favorites and an old-fashioned sing-a-long at this event. Seats are $25, $20 seniors, and $10 students 17 and younger. Free on-site parking. For tickets go to


Let’s set the scene. Giant lion statues wear very large red and white Santa hats. A very tall tree made of vibrant poinsettias is presented to the community. And the sounds of children’s voices and holiday music fill the air.

It’s that time again. Starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 2, you can listen for free to choristers from local schools compete in the Merrick Festival’s 2015 Caroling Competition at 550 Biltmore Way in Coral Gables. The singing continues for five nights through Dec. 6 when the last concert is held at 6 p.m.

The Caroling Competition has been held for 29 years, since 1987, said Sally Baumgartner, president and executive director of the Merrick Festival.

“That was the first year that 550 presented the poinsettia tree to the community,” she said in email. “It’s designed for the 550 Building.”

Thirty middle and high school choirs, with more than 1,500 young people, sing their hearts out for cash prizes, Baumgartner said.

“It is the only publicly held competition in South Florida. It’s free and guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit,” she said.

To learn more about the Merrick Festival’s 2015 Caroling Competition at 550 Biltmore Way visit


The Women’s Fund honored eight Hispanic women philanthropists at the second annual Mujeres Giving Back Recognition luncheon held at Jungle Island.

Executive Director Marilyn March opened the program to honor the “trailblazers, setting a new standard for our community and truly making history in the process.”

The awardees give of their time, talent or treasure and more than 200 persons at the event applauded them. They include: Cristina Mas, Rachelle Metcalfe, Rosa “Rosi” Alvarez, Karyl Argamasilla, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Diana Brooks, Laura Munilla, and Rachel Eugenia Pinedo.

“The energy and excitement in the ballroom were palpable. We laughed, we cried and we celebrated. It was significant!” said The Women’s Fund board member Leticia Carrazana, who co-chaired the event committee in a release.

The mission of The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade is to empower women and girls “through advocacy and funding for innovative initiatives that build equality, foster social change and create community partners.”

Established in 1993, the group directs its energy toward creating equal opportunity, access and influence through research, collaboration and grant making. For more on how to get involved, visit


More than 750 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) advocates and allies raised more than $600,000 to advance justice and equality for local groups. The annual National LGBTQ Task Force Gala – Miami was presented by Wells Fargo and held at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

The fundraiser included awards too. Attorney Mary L. Bonauto was honored with the 2015 National Leadership Award. Bonauto serves as the Civil Rights Project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and was one of three attorneys who successfully argued for same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Honorees also included Juan Bosco Talavera, who received the 2015 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award for “20 years of work dedicated to expanding basic rights for LGBTQ people.”

The event was hosted by Emmy award-winning actor Leslie Jordan, who is best known for his role as Beverley Leslie on “Will and Grace.” Charles Million and Josue Santiago served as co-chairs.

“Every year, South Florida’s premier LGBTQ social event helps raise critical funds to continue the National LGBTQ Task Force’s work of creating a world free from discrimination, hate, and violence,” said Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force executive director, in a release.

“And while we have our work cut out for us, we must also make time to celebrate the recent strides we’ve made that have brought us closer to full equality. It is thanks to the resilience and dedication of individuals such as Mary L. Bonauto and Juan Bosco Talavera that we have witnessed a number of significant victories in the last year alone,” Carey said.

The fun celebration included many surprises and even a marriage proposal.

“This year’s Miami gala is one I will remember for the rest of my life,” said co-chair Santiago. “As of Saturday night, I am happy to announce that Matt Dzwonkiewicz and I will soon be joining the millions of same-sex couples who are now able to access the right to marry.” Santiago surprised his now-fiancée by proposing at the event in front of hundreds of attendees.

To learn more visit

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