THE SOUNDS OF SOMI

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A late August event planning luncheon at Mosaico, pictured are: (back): Maurizio Farinelli, Mayor Javier Fernandez, Dean Shelly Berg; (front) Kostia Lukyniuk, Mary Scott Russell,
John Edward Smith

THE SOUNDS OF SOMI

Building A Special Events Series in Our Town Center

They’ll be dancing in the street to the sounds of a top local DJ and live music jam as a music collaboration between the University of Miami Frost School of Music and the City of South Miami rolls out over the next several months. “And from our streets and sidewalks, we’ll even elevate your SoMi experience with a rooftop concert!” exclaims event producer and SOMI Magazine creative director/publisher John Edward Smith.

Smith is referring to a multi-faceted musical festival in our South Miami Town Center spanning six-months, beginning with a two-day “Strings over SoMi” program on the second weekend of November which includes a Sunset Drive main stage concert on Saturday, Veterans Day.  On Sunday, Frost musicians are staged on sidewalks in town, and that evening, a closing concert will be staged on 

the rooftop of the South Miami Municipal Garage.  Following the Opening Festival Weekend, each second Saturday of the month, from December through May, Frost musicians and other local community performing arts groups will take to the sidewalks to entertain visitors to the town center in a “Somi Sidewalk Showcase.”.  The “Second Saturdays in SoMi,” concludes with DJ and Live Jam by Frost musicians ushering in a dance night on Sunset Drive.

JohnEdward Smith discusses the proposed project in an April meeting with Dean Shelton Berg of the UM Frost School of Music

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This cultural collaboration with South Miami’s neighbor, the University of Miami, grew out of Mayor Javier Fernandez’ earnest desire to foster relationships with “the U.”

In remarks at city meeting on September 5, 2023, the Mayor expressed his appreciation for the event planning and commission presentation noting: “We are very much focused on leveraging the benefit of having the University of Miami as our neighbor in every way possible; whether it’s studying the prospects of the future development of the city hall, working with their school of architecture and design studio in that regard, or to diversity of cultural offerings of the city.  This series could possibly become the seeds for a permanent performance space in our Town Center.  I am very excited for what this portends for the future of our city and looking to support this event in any way possible, and I thank the organizers for creating and planning this event for SoMi.”

THE GENESIS OF “THE SOUNDS OF SOMI”

John Edward Smith, publisher of SOMI Magazine, long-time South Miami resident and avid promoter of our area business community, had a happenstance encounter with an incredibly talented violinist while attending UM President Frenk’s holiday reception at Ibis House. A polished performer and masters’ degree student at the university,

Kostia performing at a UM Scholarship Donor Reception

Ukrainian Kostia Luykniuk wonderfully entertained the president’s guests that evening.  Smith and his guest were both mesmerized by the energetic and captivating performance.  After another unplanned musical encounter as he performed at a UM Scholarship Reception two months later, the two decided to meet up in SoMi.  As Smith had represented a classical recording artist, he offered whatever he could to bring a showcase performance to the area.

While living close by to our town center and attending UM, Kostia, 24, usually hangs out in Brickell, 

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Wynwood, or South Beach. As an artist, “I love those places for the music, dancing, fun, and networking. I wish something like that was here in South Miami where I chill when I’m in school. Unfortunately, Sunset Place and the area around it is pretty much dead for people my age.” 

By April, the two had crafted a plan to present to the city and the university: a unique musical experience for SoMi.  Kostia would take on the role of artistic director and Smith would serve as executive producer and facilitate the institutional coordination, providing creative direction 

with the understanding of the promotional value for our town center.  

Initial meetings were held with the South Miami Park & Recreation Department director and special events coordinator, and with Kostia’s faculty advisor and music school dean.  “There was superb creative collaboration throughout with the city staff, the university, and Kostia,” noted Smith.  And once the UM school session started this August, a team was put together to plan and execute Frost’s singular involvement with staff and professors in communications, marketing,

and music management.  Kostia observes “with the six-month artistic program being planned, some forty-four separate musical experiences will be offered our residents and visitors to South Miami.”

Dean Shelton “Shelly” Berg embraced the idea early on noting, “I am thrilled to deepen the collaboration between the Frost School of Music and our neighbor, South Miami.  South Miami is truly ‘our neighborhood’, and this musical series will have the feel of neighbors congregating to enjoy 

great music, fellowship, and food.”

Shelly Berg is an accomplished, multi-grammy nominated jazz pianist and composer.  He has graciously offered to perform the opening number for the festival.  

Kostia Lukyniuk is a Ukrainian-born, world-renowned violinist recognized for his unique and rebellious take on a traditional instrument. He revolutionizes the violin by breaking stereotypes, blending genres, and offering an extraordinarily entertaining performance by feeling every moment and improvising with it.  A high-caliber professional classical 

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Kostia on the Miami club scene

musician and winner of many prestigious competitions and awards, he graduated from the Eastman School of Music and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.  When home in Ukraine, Kostia performed benefit concerts to raise money for his people and lift the spirits of those suffering from the war.  He now has taken Miami by storm, performing all over the city and surrounding areas

THE SOUNDS OF SOMI

THE SCHEDULE OF FREE MUSIC EVENTS TO BE PUBLISHED IN EARLY OCTOBER

FOR FESTIVAL INFORMATION MAKE CERTAIN YOU ARE ON THE SOMI MAGAZINE MAILING LIST.  SEND EMAIL TO: JES@SOMIMAG.COM
RE: MUSIC FEST. 

THE CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI WEBSITE WILL ALSO BE POSTING INFORMATION  (WWW.SOUTHMIAMIFL.GOV).

ALSO, STAY TUNED TO WDNA 88.9 FM,  A FESTIVAL MEDIA SPONSOR.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *

FOR THE SOUNDS OF SOMI EVENT SPONSORSHIP PLEASE CONTACT THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER,
JOHN EDWARD SMITH
AT JES@SOMIMAG.COM. 

YOUR SUPPORT IS GREATLY APPRECIATED IN PRESENTING QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT TO OUR TOWN CENTER. 

YOUR TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTON TO AN ADVISED GIVING PROGRAM FOR SOMI CULTURAL EVENTS AT THE
MIAMI FOUNDATION.

from private events to Art Basel and upscale gala benefits. He actively performs all over the world, playing a wide variety of genres and styles, always giving himself fully to his audience.  (See SOMIonline 18, 3, “Arts In SOMI” article.  www.somimag.com.)

“I believe that quality music can bring back life and that true Miami party spirit in South Miami, reviving the streets with energy and joy.  That’s why we’re organizing the “Strings over SoMi” festival in November, followed by a monthly musical day every second Saturday.  People need something to get excited about and get together for.”

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SOMIonline wants to know: “As Artistic Director for the two-day festival and following second Saturdays, what can concert-goers and street party folks expect to see and hear on stage and in the street?”

Kostia enthusiastically notes, “Our opening concert on Saturday, November 11 will feature many talented groups 

from Frost. Esteemed dean of the school Shelton Berg will open the program, followed by student groups showcasing different genres of music from classical to jazz and rock. The festivities continue on Sunday, where the public will be able to enjoy various showcases on the sidewalks in South Miami culminating in a big closing concert at the ‘Top of the

Mayor making a point during the planning luncheon

Town.’  You will love experiencing these high-class performances from some of the most talented youth and the future of music, showcasing the different sides of stringed instruments in a variety of genres.

“This will continue every second Saturday of the following six months with the street jams and a DJ dance night, for which I’m personally very excited.“

The city has recently established a Town Center Advisory Board to confer with the city commission in advancing improvements in our business community.  Former mayor Mary Scott Russell and 

chair of the Town Center Advisory Board, notes that “activating the town center was high on the agenda from our first meeting. The purpose being to bring more visitors to South Miami in a conscious effort to support the businesses that make SoMi special. This musical series delivers that idea completely. Rather than seeking out commercial partners for one- off activations, the city will be partnering with the renowned Frost School of Music for not one but six months of programming which will showcase our unique shops and restaurants as well as encourage the use of our newly updated municipal parking garage.  Having seen John

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Kostia with co-presenting sponsors
Carol and Ed Williamson at Kalimera Restaurant

Edward’s creative commitment to the community over three decades and hearing Kostia perform, I am very thrilled to witness this creative collaboration among all participants.”

All parties look forward to seeing the festival flourish annually, bringing life and culture to South Miami and strengthening the relationship between the University

and the city and as Kostia notes, “Music and culture are the cornerstones of progress, I believe The Sounds of SoMi program is going to bring many wonderful things to the lives of South Miamians!”

 The collaboration between the City of South Miami and the University of Miami addresses three mutually inclusive beneficial goals:
1) To provide quality cultural events in our Town Center.
2) To develop effective collaborative relationships with the University of Miami, and,
3) For the Frost School of Music, to have outside venues to promote their exceptional music programs available for residents and showcase

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young talent, while students learn the true craft of their profession in a real-life setting.

In closing his remarks, Dean Berg noted “the Frost School abounds with world class talent, performing 350 concerts per year on the UM Campus, a stone’s throw away from South Miami.  ‘The Sounds of SoMi’ showcases our brilliant students and faculty in a festival setting and will encourage attendees to come to campus for more great music. This concert series is also a real-world laboratory for Frost students in Live Arts Presentation, Music Business, and Music Engineering.  ‘The Sounds of SoMi’   brings together a great city and a great music school, and in this case 1+1 will be an exponent of 2!’’  

Article by Cera Soli

Kostia performing “Amazing Grace” at the September 5th City Comission meeting

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