Festival Miami was founded in the fall of 1983 by Dean J. William “Bill” Hipp with the artistic direction of José Serebrier. The series started the following year. Initially titled International Festival of the Americas, Festival Miami is a celebration of music and the arts presented every October by the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Festival Miami was preceded by the Latin American Chamber Music Festival, which was organized in 1982 by Professor Lucas Drew, Chairman of the Department of Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami. The Festival consisted of a series of free concerts performed mainly by University of Miami music faculty, with emphasis on works by Latin American composers who were featured guests each year. When Dean Hipp joined the School of Music in 1983, he determined that its future was limited by restricting programming only to music from Latin America. He discussed the possibility of a new and expanded festival with conductor and composer José Serebrier. Through their meeting, Festival Miami was born.
During its formative years, Festival Miami was held between mid-October through mid-November and later changed to mid-September through mid-October. Today, under the direction of Dean Shelton Berg, all Festival Miami concerts are held during the month of October with four different concert themes. These themes include: “Great Performances,” “Jazz and Beyond,” “Creative American Music,” and “Music of the Americas.”
With Miami’s rich cultural atmosphere, Festival Miami has been able to prosper and grow over the years. The purpose of Festival Miami is to increase the Frost School of Music’s visibility at national and international arenas as well as participate in a variety of community outreach efforts.
At the Frost School of Music, it’s important to present new music and commission new works. Festival Miami is one of the outlets in which faculty and student composers present their world premiere works. In addition, the Festival gives Frost School of Music students as well as its faculty composers the chance to work and interact with internationally-known guest artists via lectures, seminars, and concerts.
Festival Miami is a further extension of the Frost School of Music’s commitment to community outreach. Over the years, Festival Miami has extended its invitation from public school students to senior citizens, non-profit organizations and foundations, and everywhere in between. The Frost School of Music has long recognized Miami’s international character and continues to incorporate these elements in the planning, programming, and design of Festival Miami.