GMYS Music Director & Symphony Orchestra Conductor
As a dynamic, diverse musician, Ms. Chen enjoys a dual career as a performer and an educator. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and her Master of Music Degree from the University of Miami in violin performance. She was a member of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra from 1994 until its demise in 2003. As an educator, she is currently a violin instructor at New World School of the Arts and was Interim Director of Orchestra at Florida International University. Ms. Chen has also taught violin and chamber music at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and at Lynn University. She has led youth orchestras in concert halls such as Arsht Center in Miami and Carnegie Hall in New York City. As an international violin soloist, Ms. Chen has appeared with many orchestras around the globe. She was the recipient of the 1999 Young Concert Artist of the Year awarded by the National Concert Hall of Taipei, Taiwan and a Concerto Competition Winner at the University of Miami in 2003. She is currently the Concertmaster of the Ars Flores Symphony, a member of the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra, and the founder and the principal violinist of the chamber ensemble Dynamic Strings. As a recording artist, Maestra Chen appears on dozens of award winning recordings for Sony, EMI, and Warner Brothers.
String Orchestra Conductor, & Strings Chamber Coach
Venezuelan native and double bass player Alex Berti started playing in the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, the top orchestra in El Sistema, in 1979. He received a Bachelor of Music Education at IUDEM. Mr. Berti has performed in many of the most important concert halls of the world: Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Festival Hall in London, Teatro de la Opera in Madrid, UNESCO Hall in Paris,Teatro Colon in Argentina, Teatro Heitor Villalobos in Brazil, and Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas. His orchestral experience has included concerts with Isaac Stern, Ruggiero Ricci, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gary Karr and many more musical luminaries. He was the principal double bass of the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra. In Miami he served as principal double bass for the Miami Symphony Orchestra and as Composer in Residence for 4 years, where they performed his Clarinet Concerto, Guitar Concerto and many symphonic arrangements. Currently Mr. Berti teaches applied bass at the New World School of the Arts, MACS and the Miami Music Project. Alex has a private double bass studio in Doral where he teaches and works as an arranger for Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
Concert Orchestra Conductor
Mr. Bringle B. Cidel holds a Master’s of Music in Composition from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelor’s of Music Education from Florida A&M University. Previously, Mr. Cidel served as Director of Bands and Orchestra at Norland Middle School where he received the “Teacher of the Year” award and has worked at Miami Beach Sr. High School from 1998-2004. During his tenure, ensembles consistently earned the highest possible ratings at both, the district and state music performance assessments winning Grand Champion honors in music festivals of Atlanta, Georgia and Virginia. Mr. Cidel has led the “Power of Music” for the Miami-Dade County Schools Division of Life Skills and has guest conducted various honors ensembles from the Florida Key’s, Leon County and Miami-Dade County Superintendents Honors Band as well as the Concert Orchestra. Currently Mr. Cidel serves as conductor of Bands and Orchestra at Dr. Michael M. Krop Sr. High School where ensembles consistently receive the highest possible ratings district and state levels. As a freelance composer, Mr. Cidel’s works has been published and performed nationally.
Young Sousas Conductor
Mr. Oliver Diez, born and raised in Hialeah, received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Florida International University in 1999 and promptly began his teaching career at Palmetto Elementary School where he still teaches today. Throughout the past years he has helped develop a strong music program by starting a chorus, string orchestra, salsa dancers club, a full concert band, and a jazz ensemble. He was named Rookie Teacher of the Year in 1999 and Teacher of the Year in 2003. His groups have performed throughout the communities of Pinecrest and Miami. In 2007 he was chosen to direct the Recorder Ensemble at the Superintendent Honors Music Festival. Mr. Diez’s Palmetto Singers and Concert Band have received countless Superior ratings at the annual Music U.S.A. Festival in Orlando, Florida where his concert band has been declared one of the three top elementary concert bands in the state. His jazz combo performed at the Superintendent’s Holiday Program in 2010. Recently Mr. Diez received a proclamation from the Mayor of the Village of Pinecrest naming June 7th, 2011 “Oliver Diez Day.
GMYS Program Director
Lakeisha Frith is a GMYS alumni and a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors Degree in Arts and Humanities. Ms. Frith began working with GMYS in 2005 as the String Orchestra Assistant and is now the GMYS Executive Assistant, teaching beginning string classes and fulfilling administrative office duties and grant compliance. Ms. Frith has attended teacher trainings at the Indiana University String Academy’s Teacher’s Retreat as well as Suzuki method teacher trainings and is a popular private strings teacher in Miami-Dade County.
Associate Director of Concert Band and Symphony Winds Coach
Connor Hailey is a Tuba player and music educator in the greater Miami area. Connor obtained an undergraduate degree in Music Education from Arizona State University and a Master of Music degree in Tuba Performance from the University of Miami, under the guidance of J. Samuel Pilafian. Connor has also been a private instructor for all low brass instruments for the past six years, He is currently Adjunct Faculty at New World School of the Arts and Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. Connor has most recently joined the University of Miami’s Band of the Hour as an Instructional Specialist.
Concert Band Director & Associate Director of Symphony Winds
Brent A. Mounger received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Stetson University. While at Stetson he began an active role in music education. During the Fall of 2004, he took on the assignment of conducting the school’s Brass Ensemble. Later in 2006, he petitioned the faculty, with the help of Dr. Bobby Adams, to create a new ensemble for woodwinds – Chamber Winds. In 2005, Mr. Mounger was President-Elect for the Florida Collegiate Music Educator’s National Conference and served as President in 2006. While President of FCMENC, he restructured the statewide organization and was able to increase the association’s membership. A partnership program was also established where larger universities in Florida were zoned with smaller universities and community colleges to help establish links and communication between future music educators. Mr. Mounger also served on the Florida Music Educator’s Association State Board from 2005-2007.
Currently Brent Mounger is the Wind Ensemble Director at New World School of the Arts, and from 2007 until 2011 he served as Director of Bands at Coral Reef Senior High School. While at Coral Reef the Wind Ensemble received national acclaim and was invited to perform at the 2011 National Concert Band Festival. Under Mr. Mounger’s direction, the Coral Reef Senior High band program received Superior ratings at District and State Jazz and Concert Assessments. Graduates from his programs attend the New England Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, Stetson University, University of Miami Frost School of Music, The Florida State University College of Music, Berklee College of Music and the University of Florida School of Music. Brent Mounger is the Bass Trombonist with the Miami Wind Symphony, a professional Wind Ensemble in South Florida. His professional memberships include: the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, the Music Educators’ National Conference, the Florida Music Educators’ Association, the Florida Bandmasters Association, and Phi Mu Alpha.
Director of Jazz Band
Mr. Erich S. Rivero was born and raised in Miami, Florida and is a product of the Miami-Dade County Public School System having graduated from Southwest Miami Senior High School in 1990. He graduated with an Associate in Arts Degree from Miami Dade Community College in 1993 and then attended Florida International University. While at Florida International University, he studied Applied Trumpet with Mr. Arturo Sandoval and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education in 1996. He has served as Director of Bands at American Senior High, G. Holmes Braddock Senior High, Miami Senior High, Miami Killian Senior High, and Coral Reef High School. Mr. Rivero is currently serving his seventh year as the Band Director at Glades Middle School in Miami-Dade County. This is Mr. Rivero’ s eighteenth year directing bands in the State of Florida. In February, 2006, he was issued a Proclamation of Outstanding Achievement with the performance of his Jazz Ensemble from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ School Board. In 2012 he was named the Glades Middle School’s Teacher of the Year and MDCPS Region IV finalist. Most recently, in May of 2014, Erich Rivero was named as a Quarter Finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award out of over seven thousand nominees. Mr. Rivero has directed the Miami-Dade County Public School Teachers’ Jazz Band as well as the North Miami Community Adult Band. As a performer, he has worked with many famous recording artists around the globe. Erich Rivero has served as an officer in FBA District 16 in the capacity of Secretary and Chairman twice over. In addition, he has also served on the State Board for the Florida Bandmasters Association and currently sits on the Jazz Committee.
Young Mozarts Orchestra Conductor
Born in Madrid, violinist Sandra Rubio studied at the Conservatorio Profesional Arturo Soria in Madrid where she graduated with honors. After being granted a full scholarship she moved to the United States where she received her Bachelor of Music from Lynn University and her Master of Music from University of Miami, both in violin performance. She has been a performing member of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Symphony of the Americas, Boca Symphonia and Miami City Ballet. Ms. Rubio is currently Principal Second Violin of Ars Flores, a member of Palm Beach Pops Orchestra, and a guest violinist at the National Orchestra of Dominican Republic. In addition to her private violin studio, Ms. Rubio is currently a violin and chamber music instructor at St. Mark’s Episcopal School and at Key Biscayne Strings.
In the past she has been a member of the Arturo Soria Baroque Ensemble in Spain. She also toured North and South America as the lead electric violinist for Grammy-nominee and Latin-Billboard-awarded singer Ricardo Montaner in his 2013 tour “Viajero Frecuente.” As a recording artist she has appeared in various recordings for both Universal and Sony. She has also collaborated in live performances with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Marc Anthony and Laura Pausini. As a versatile musician and educator, Ms. Rubio also has a passion for teaching and coaching. She has worked with schools and organizations such as SoBe School of the Arts and the STEPS program of the Florida Youth Orchestra, an after school program designed to provide music education to lower income communities.
Young Mozarts/Miami Beach Conductor
Born on Long Island, Linda Shapanka attended SUNY’s Crane School of Music and received her B.A. from the Hartt College of Music, then continued an education in Bornoff, Kodaly and Orff techniques before starting a career as a professional musician in Connecticut and Venezuela and later studying for her Masters degree at the University of Miami. She has taught K-12 general music, strings, and orchestra in Michigan, Massachusetts and Florida. She has also has served on faculties of Conservatorio de la Orquesta Filarmonica and Collegio Internacional in Caracas Venezuela as well as Lansing Community College, and taught string pedagogy at the University of Miami School of Music. Currently she is the Director of Orchestras for Miami’s Scheck Hillel Community School. She has been a teaching member of the Greater Miami Youth Symphony’s preparatory division for five years and previously conducted with the South Florida Youth Symphony. Ms. Shapanka has personally coached a number of All-State participants and music scholarship recipients from dozens of Miami schools and has performed with the Greater Lansing and Greater Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestras, Orquestra Filharmonica de Caracas, and I Giovani Musici, a string quartet which she founded in Hartford, Connecticut. Currently she performs both violin and viola professionally with local chamber groups.
Preparatory Division Teachers
Jacolyn Alvarez, Lakeisha Frith, Kimberly Rotalante, Stephanie Jaimes, Glenn Perry, Lori Patrick, Magdalena Luciani, Sarah Wallace, Erich Rivero, Linda Shapanka, John Bixby, Luis Fernandez, Felipe Diaz, Mirlynez Mendez
Orchestra and Chamber Coaches
Carol Nicholson, Tyson Voigt, Sandra Rubio, Hector Gomez