History of the Frost Strings Program

The University of Miami opened in the fall of 1926 with two academic units: the Conservatory of Music and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Bertha M. Foster became the University’s first music dean. One of the first professors Dr. Foster hired was the recently retired principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Jean Bedetti,  and within a year Dr. Foster had hired Arnold Vople to conduct the University of Miami Symphony Orchestra.

In 1939 the School of Music, as it was then known, became an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music, and by the time Dr. Foster retired in 1944, it was a highly esteemed musical institution. The school was renamed the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music in 2003 in honor of a landmark naming gift by Dr. Phillip Frost and Patricia Frost, ardent supporters of the arts in Miami.

The University of Miami Symphony Orchestra was the only professional orchestra in Miami for decades, and featured many faculty and students of the University of Miami on its roster. It was later renamed the Miami Symphony, and then the Florida Philharmonic.

The conductors were Modeste Alloo, John Bitter, Fabien Sevitsky, all of whom were UM faculty. Esteemed soloists such as Rudolph Firkusny, Nathan Milstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Emanuel Ax, Van Cliburn, Itzhak Perlman, Jascha Heifetz, Mischa Elman, Rya Garbousova, Rostropovitch, and Yehudi Menuhin performed regularly with the orchestra.

Today, the Frost Symphony Orchestra is a superb orchestra comprised of graduate and undergraduate music majors of the Frost School of Music, and is conducted by Thomas Sleeper.

Faculty of the Frost Strings Program

The String Faculty have included Eugene Dubois, professor and concert master, Victor Stern, violist, Hermann Busch, Jean Bedetti, Ingus Naruns, and Eugene Eicher, cellists.

Current faculty include the following:
Ross Harbaugh, cellist of the Bergonzi String Quartet, joined the Frost faculty in 1992. He is the Strings program director. As a member of the New World String Quartet he won the 1979 Naumburg Chamber Music Prize, a Prix du Disque, and taught at Harvard University.
Pamela McConnell, violist of the Bergonzi Quartet, toured the world as violist of the Rowe Quartet, won a Peabody Award, performed with the National Symphony, and taught at S.U.N.Y Buffalo before joining the Frost School in 1988. Glenn Basham, violinist of the Bergonzi String Quartet, is concert master of the Naples Philharmonic, and joined the Frost faculty in 1992. He won first prize of the Renaud Competition and solos regularly as both a classical and jazz violinist around the U.S. and Europe. Scott Flavin is violinist of the Bergonzi Quartet, concert master of the Florida Grand Opera, and guest conductor of numerous Florida Orchestras. Before joining the Frost faculty in 1997 he toured with the Ellis Quartet. Flavin has arranged dozens of classical and popular pieces for string quartet.  The newest addition to the Frost string faculty is Double bassist Brian Powell who also teaches string pedagogy in the Music Education Program.  Powell is a former member of The New World Symphony, and has performed with the Louisville Orchestra, Florida Grand Opera Orchestra and others. An active soloist, he is a winner of the Aspen Music Festival Double Bass Solo Competition. As an award-winning educator, he has taught at elementary and collegiate levels and was President of the Kentucky chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

Since the School’s inception, the Strings Program has always attracted a diverse pool of highly talented faculty and students, providing an energizing boost to the cultural life of Miami, affectionately known as the “Magic City.” Its stellar graduates are performing and teaching at the highest levels, all over the world.