A night to remember the late Michael Orta

Jordan Coll/PantherNOW

Jordan Coll/Staff Writer


Students and close friends of the late Michael Orta, a former associate professor of jazz at FIU, gathered in his honor for a performance at the Wertheim Concert Hall on Friday, April 26.

As the lights dimmed, vocalist Nicole Henry, one of his colleagues, expressed her gratitude for all the years she worked alongside Orta. She was thankful that Orta had helped make jazz a “living and breathing genre.”

“The Wertheim Concert Hall has hosted several performances but unlike the one for Michael,” said Jamie Ousley, associate professor of jazz studies at FIU. “I believe overall the event was a complete success.”

Jazz musicians such as Henry, Paquito D’Rivera and Sammy Figueroa were featured in the concert. Henry said Orta “taught me what the power of jazz really felt like.” Instruments accompanied Henry as she sang one of the few songs she performed live with Orta.

A photo of Orta playing a grand piano in one of his studios was on display for his former students to see. As the night progressed, videos of old gigs he performed with his band played.

The event also provided fundraising for the Michael Orta Scholarship Fund, which helps aspiring jazz students pursue careers in this genre of music.

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