Major accolades for music at Miami this summer

Throwback to music ensembles from Miami’s Bicentennial and Carnegie Hall concerts

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications

Music and musicians connected with Miami have received major accolades this summer. Pre-pandemic performances, recordings and compositions have been recognized nationally by The American Prize and other organizations.

“If there ever were a year to encourage conductors and all performing artists — to thank them for their service to music, to music education and to enriching their players and audiences with the spiritual nourishment that only the arts can provide — this is the year,” the judges stated.

Five music highlights:american-prize-logo

1. The Miami University Symphony Orchestra (MUSO),directed by Ricardo Averbach, was named one of eight national finalists for The American Prize for orchestral performance, 2020. The American Prize - the national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts - is the nation’s most comprehensive series of contests in the classical arts. The MUSO was also a national finalist in 2016 and 2010.

  • Did you know? The MUSO's American Prize performance included Piano Concerto in F "Three Tone Poems for Piano and Orchestra" composed by Roger Davis, Miami professor emeritus of music. Watch and listen to a video of this performance from the MUSO's concert at Cincinnati's Music Hall, March 2019.
2. Averbach, director of orchestral studies at Miami, was named a 2020 national finalist for The American Prize for conductors, orchestra division.lentini-cover
  • Did you know? Averbach was named the nation’s top conductor by The American Prize in 2010 and was a finalist in 2016.

3. A recording released in March by James Lentini, dean of Miami’s College of Creative Arts from 2007-2012, topped  a list of “The 8 most alluring classical recordings of the year so far” (June 2020) by the Chicago Tribune. “Through Time and Place,” a compilation of Lentini’s compositions, leads with a symphony conducted by Averbach.

4. The title composition of Lentini’s release, Symphony No.1, “Through Time and Place” was commissioned by Averbach and the Miami University Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Miami's bicentennial in 2009-2010. According to the Chicago Tribune review, "it stands as the recording’s centerpiece, sumptuously performed by the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Ricardo Averbach conducting.”bicentennial-logo

  • Did you know? Averbach has been a guest conductor for the Sofia Philharmonic in Bulgaria since 2008. 
  • The premiere of Lentini's Symphony No. 1 was performed by the MUSO in spring 2010. The recording of that performance was part of the ensemble’s entry for The American Prize, for which they earned their first national finalist rank.

5. Lentini was also commissioned by the Bicentennial Committee to arrange “The Trees of Miami” for combined chorus and wind ensemble. The piece premiered in fall 2009.

Return to performing this fall?


Miami's music ensembles on stage at Carnegie Hall, 2012 (photo by Jeff Sabo).

Averbach, past-president of the College Orchestra Directors Association, said that the association has joined forces with performing arts organizations worldwide to commission a study on the effects of COVID-19 with respect to the return to the rehearsal hall. It will determine the safety and guidelines for college orchestras and other performing arts groups to return to their rehearsals this fall. More information may be available in several weeks.

Building on the success of the 2019 Miami Takes Music Hall concert, the music department plans to develop a tradition of these performances, according to Chris Tanner, chair and professor of music. “Miami Takes Music Hall provided a wonderful opportunity for our students in the MU Symphony Orchestra to perform alongside our outstanding faculty. Our vision is to develop a tradition of Music Hall performances, featuring all of our instrumental and choral ensembles, in the coming years," Tanner said. The April 2020 concert was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Re-Connect with the College of Creative Arts: 

Were you a member of one of Miami’s musical ensembles during the Bicentennial year or the Carnegie Hall concert?  Tag @MiamiOHCCA on Twitter or Facebook.

Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University from 2013-2020, will serve as President of Molloy College beginning in July.