FIU School of Music Kicks Off Concert Season With Hispanic Swing and Hurricane Aid

Photo by: Daniel Martinez

By: Daniel Martinez / Contributing Writer


Just across the street from the roars of the FIU football stadium, eager eyes and ears of all ages congregated for a night of music at the Bahamas Relief: Hispanic Heritage Kickoff Concert in the Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

The opening trumpets, drums, bongos and electric guitar of Venezuelan group, Ensamble 7/4, had hands clapping to start the FIU School of Music’s 2019-2020 season. 

The concert celebrated the commencement of Hispanic Heritage Month and aimed to unify the audience through a shared passion for music to spread awareness for Hurricane Dorian relief.

A portion of ticket proceeds was donated to the FIU Strong Campaign to support FIU faculty, staff, and students that were impacted by the recent Hurricane Dorian.

Conducted by the Director of Orchestral Studies at FIU, Javier Mendoza,  the concert featured performances by Ensamble 7/4, Furia Flamenca, the FIU Symphony Orchestra and former America’s Got Talent finalist, Daniella Mass. 

Audience members experienced a large variety of Hispanic music and world-class performers that guided them through a musical tour of Latin America’s wide range of tunes.

The concert spotlighted Hispanic pop themes from various countries – Tico Tico No Fubá, Fantasía Mexicana, Cuban Pete, and numerous others- with a dash of Spanish classical flair and Furia Flamenco’s traditional Spanish choreography.

Music executive and Latin Grammy Award winner, Julio Bagué  was present at the event. He enjoyed the eclectic nature of the concert. 

“I thought the concert was fantastic. I loved all the repertoire; it was super eclectic,” said Bague.

The concert branched off from the usual classical programs performed at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center – instead, leaning more towards Hispanic pop to elicit an emotional response from the primarily Hispanic audience.

Ensemble 7/4’s roots in Venezuelan folk music and Daniella Mass’s spirit of Barranquilla, Colombia, bestowed an upbeat rhythm with a cascade of exciting notes, solos, and even laughs. 

“This concert that we presented tonight is definitely out of my comfort zone. But it was on purpose; we wanted to touch people and have an eclectic offering,” said Mendoza.

The night had many emotional moments, however, Daniella Mass’s cover of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables received the most responses from the audience.

 She dedicated the song to those affected by Hurricane Dorian and warned about future disasters if humanity does not begin to recognize their impact on the environment.

“The planet is our home and we all live in the same place. Plant a tree or change your lifestyle because these things affect us all. The Bahamas, this is for you.” said Mass before singing the cover.

A departure from the energy and upbeat musical pleasure, her words reminded the room of the importance of playing a role in Hurricane Dorian Relief as she called on everybody to unify and help our friends in the Bahamas.

Certain songs sparked tears from Daniella Mass and FIU Symphony and Orchestra members; and flooded the auditorium with a feeling of responsibility. Her idea of unity through music struck a chord in the room.

“I think everyone had a tear in their eye when she performed ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’” said Bagué. “Like she was saying, everyone comes together through music.”

The night concluded with performances by Dominican-American tenor, Edgar Abréu; Venezuelan-American soprano Orianna Gutierrez; the Furia Flamenca team; and two encores by Daniella Mass.

Performers bid the audience farewell upon reception of a standing ovation. 

           When asked about what he would like the audience to take away from the concert, conductor Javier Mendoza said, “The FIU School of Music has an outstanding program. We bring world-class performers to the stage, and our student performers are well prepared to perform with them.”

Paired with the concert’s diversion from the traditional classical performance, the message of unity and friendship embedded audience members with a sense of compassion and responsibility for helping those in need.  

Gabriel Gutierrez of Ensamble 4/7 said, “Music makes us feel like we can do something, no matter how little.”

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