As a dynamic, diverse musician, Huifang Chen enjoys a dual career as a performer and an educator.
Ms. Chen 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, Ms. Chen 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.
Alexander Magalong is a Filipino-American conductor, violinist, and violist. He is currently the assistant conductor of the Palm Beach Symphony, the associate conductor of the Frost Symphony Orchestra, and the conductor of the Frost Flute Ensemble. Mr. Magalong was a finalist for music director of the Pikes Peak Philharmonic and has conducted the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, Broadmoor Pops Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, and the Peakharmonic Youth Orchestra. He has premiered and recorded the full orchestra version of Dorothy Hindman’s Setting Century on Albany Records. According to the South Florida Classical Review, “Hindman could not have wished for a better performance, with Magalong keeping the ensemble tight and crisp.” He has also conducted the premier of Fanfares for the Apocalypse by Ken Ueno. Mr. Magalong has been accepted to several prestigious conducting workshops including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Cristian Măcelaru and the Ithaca International Conducting Masterclass with Larry Rachleff.
Having taught high school, junior high, and elementary orchestra for an underprivileged school district for nine years, Mr. Magalong is a passionate advocate for music education in the public schools. Under his direction and active recruitment, his high school program tripled in size, resulting in four ability-based string orchestras, the most of any Colorado high school. In 2011, the Widefield High School Chamber Strings was selected to perform at the Colorado Music Educators Association conference alongside more affluent schools. As a respected educator in Colorado, Mr. Magalong has guest conducted many honor orchestras, festivals, music camps, youth orchestras, and educator conferences in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Westminster, Jefferson County, and the Boulder Valley. He served on the Colorado All-State Orchestra board as Southern Governor for six years and has adjudicated many festivals throughout the state.
Mr. Magalong holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Denver, a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Miami, and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Miami.
Mirlynez Iglesias-Mendez was born in La Habana, Cuba where she started her violin studies at the age of seven. She knows how to play a wide variety of musical styles on the violin. She held membership in the opera and ballet symphonic orchestra in her native country from a young age. Her talents gave her the opportunity to be in one of the most prestigious musical groups, Camerata Romeu, on the island.
Once Mrs. Iglesias-Mendez moved to Miami, Florida, she continued with her music studies receiving a B.M in Violin Performance from Florida International University, a Master’s in Music Education from University of Florida, and most recently an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Glades Middle School was Mrs. Iglesias-Mendez’ first assignment with the Miami-Dade County Public schools. As Orchestra Director, her outstanding work was noted from the very beginning with her own award of Rookie Teacher of the Year. Her students received numerous superior ratings for the district assessments as well as state festivals. She also trained her orchestra to play all types of music. They were often invited to play for region and district events.
Later, Mrs. Iglesias-Mendez worked as a District String Specialist for the Central Region where she provided professional development as well as developed string programs for many schools in the area. She has also served for the last decade with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony as one of the Chamber Music Conductors and most recently the Strings Orchestra.
Presently, she is the Orchestra Director at Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School where she is developing a string program that not only includes the String Orchestra but also Guitar Ensembles. They have performed for district and South Region events.
She has also conducted the Elementary Honors String Orchestra at the 2014 and 2016 Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent’s Honors Festival.
Nerissa Manela, MPhil, MT-BC grew up in New Jersey playing violin in orchestras including the Garden State Youth Philharmonic, New Jersey State Youth Orchestra, Georgian Court University Orchestra, Kean University Orchestra, and has performed in Italy with All American Youth in Concert and in England and Germany with the Cambridge University Musical Society Orchestra.
Nerissa moved to Miami to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Music Therapy at the University of Miami. She completed her music therapy internship at The Music Therapy Center of California in San Diego, after which she moved to England to complete her Master’s degree in Arts, Creativity, Education and Culture at the University of Cambridge.
Nerissa returned to Miami in 2016, where she teaches elementary general music, chorus, and strings in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Additionally, she teaches privately and has been involved as a musician with many summer groups, including Greater Miami Youth Symphony’s summer camp. Her professional memberships include the National Association for Music Education, Florida Music Educators Association, Florida Elementary Music Educators Association, Dade County Music Educators Association, and National Educators Association.
Nerissa also directs Miami Jam Sessions, a music therapy socialization group for teens and young adults with special needs, which takes place on the University of Miami campus in partnership with The Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program. Nerissa continues to play violin and performs throughout Miami-Dade county with the Alhambra Orchestra.
Gabriel Godoy is a young and rising musician and educator in South Florida. A Miami-native, Gabriel earned his Associate of Arts at Miami Dade College. He continued to pursue his musical career by earning a Bachelor of Music degree in the fall of 2016 from the University of Miami Frost School of music. At the Frost School, Gabriel was an active performer, playing in the Studio Jazz Band as well as a member of the highly acclaimed Frost Sextet. As a member of the sextet Gabriel found a passion for educating when the group traveled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to teach at the Fundación Tónica camp as well as perform at the Jalisco Jazz Festival.
With the inspiration from Mexico, Gabriel continued his passion for educating by attending Florida State University College of Music for a graduate degree as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. At FSU, Gabriel conducted a small jazz combo and a large jazz ensemble, private lessons, as well as teaching an undergraduate jazz history course. Gabriel earned his Master of Music degree from FSU in the spring of 2019.