The Artistic Director
James Brooks-Bruzzese, Artistic Director
Maestro of South Florida´s acclaimed Symphony of the Americas, Dr. James Brooks-Bruzzese, was born in Panama in a bilingual home---his mother born in Colombia and his late father a member of the United States Armed Forces. He received his doctorate in Opera Conducting and Musicology from Washington University in St. Louis. Maestro coached in a master class on the music of Bach under the baton of the great Pablo Casals. Additional studies were with eminent conductors Leonard Slatkin of St. Louis Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra; Ignace Strassfogel of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Richard Karp of Pittsburgh Opera. Their mentorship is evident in Maestro’s founding of the Augusta Opera with singers from the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Opera and London´s Covent Garden, receiving critical acclaim from Pittsburgh Post and Opera News Magazine. His musicianship is acclaimed as “Dynamic...exciting...and remarkable controlled, but simultaneously free spirited.”
When Maestro arrived in Florida in the early 1970’s he immediately got to work, sharing his vast knowledge with Florida students. He taught at the middle and high school levels in Pompano Beach for five years, then at Florida Atlantic University. In this time, he created student orchestras, (award winning at the national level), as well as the Florida Atlantic University Symphony. In 1975, he and Dr. Hugh Adams, President of Broward Community College, formed the BCC Youth Symphony and Dancers, which continued for more than ten years, with performances in major theaters throughout Florida, for students and public alike and hosting internationally acclaimed classical and jazz guest artists for masterclasses and joint performances. (ie, YoYo Ma, Hank Levy of the Stan Kenton Band, Vovka & Dmitri Ashkenazy, among others)
In the 1980’s Maestro also founded the Florida Chamber Orchestra, growing to the full South Florida Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. This work led to his founding of the Florida Music Festival and its outgrowth, Symphony of the Americas, of which Summerfest, now in its 21st season, brings the fine artistic reputation of the Symphony to diverse audiences in great cultural capitals of the world as well as to rural areas, schools and conservatories to young people at home and abroad. This major music festival takes place in Europe, the eastern seaboard of the United States, and the Americas. Summerfest outreach performances have taken place in every country of Central America, four countries of South America and five islands of the Caribbean.
The Berlin Symphony; Budapest’s famed Vigado Theater; the magnificent Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; Capetown Opera Company of South Africa; Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires; Teatro Circulo and Salon Piazzolla in Argentina, and throughout the Soviet Union under the auspices of Gosconcert — it is in these “arenas” that Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese performs his artistic mastery stirring audiences worldwide. “A remarkable performance! Well balanced and of outstanding quality... which resulted in three standing ovations!” (NRD-Handelsbad, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam)
Applause highlighting his work with orchestras and festivals on six continents has marked Maestro an outstanding conductor of the US. He has appeared with the National Symphonies of: Central America & Caribbean: Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Curaçao, South America: Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Rosario & Sante Fe Argentina, Uruguay; Asia: Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia (acclaimed Mozart Festival); Africa: Durban Symphony, Natal Philharmonic, Johannesburg Symphony; Europe: Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Valencia & Malaga Spain, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic & the Czech Virtuosi, Berlin Symphony, Hungarian Virtuosi, Budapest Chamber Orchestra, Hungarian Radio Orchestra, Istanbul State Symphony, Arpeggione Chamber Orchestra, the highly recorded Cappella Istropolitana of Vienna, Greek Hellenic Camerata, Rome Festival Orchestra, Costa Festival Orchestra of Italy.
Maestro also served as Principal Guest Conductor of Mexico´s National Symphony of Xalapa. He is the first American to conduct the National Orchestra of Pleven, Bulgaria, receiving the city’s official medal. He has conducted on many occasions, the US Synchronized Swimming Team with full orchestra in specially choreographed presentations.
His work with international soloists includes Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Joaquin Achucarro, Bela Davidovich, Eugene Istomin, Joseph Kalichstein, Yefim Bronfman, Vovka & Dimtri Ashkenazy, Michael Ponti, Enrique Graf, Lorin Hollander, Roberta Peters, Judith Blegen, Eugenia Zukerman, Paula Robison, Dominic Cossa, Sidney Harth, Aaron Rosand, Leonard Rose, Janos Starker, Glenn Dicterow, Marcin Bronikowski, Alan Titus, Jorge Luis Prats.
In the pops arena, he has conducted Phyllis Diller, Mitch Miller, Doc Severinsen, Kaye Ballard and many throughout the years, recently including Mariah Carey. Dancers he has collaborated with in performance include Rudolph Nureyev, Amanda McKerrow, Gelsey Kirkland, Janie Parker and Jimmy Gamonet among others, as well as the Atlanta, Pittsburgh & Joffrey Ballet companies.
Mentors Leonard Slatkin, Pablo Casals, & Richard Karp (Pittsburgh Opera) and Ignace Strasfogel (Metropolitan Opera) provided inspiration to Maestro resulting in his highly acclaimed artistic performances. Composers Hugo Weisgall, Paul Pisk, and jazz composer Hank Levy are but just a few whom Maestro has also collaborated with.
In 2005, Maestro was honored at Washington´s Kennedy Center with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation´s Award for the Arts in recognition of his lifelong work as a world-renowned conductor and his dedication to promoting classical music to youth around the world. Maestro received the Critics Choice Award at Brazil´s famed Villa Lobos Festival in Rio de Janeiro. He has been recognized by heads of state and dignitaries all over the world — US President Ronald Reagan praised Maestro as an “Ambassador to Latin America for his exceptional musical talents and diplomatic skills.” He is also a proud recipient of the distinguished 2009 Amigos Award from Hispanic Unity of Florida.
As a Rotarian, he instituted a joint project with Rotary International and Sister Cities International, taking Symphony and Summerfest musicians to Haiti. A humanitarian tour through music, the project raised over $50,000 through performances in cities and hillside churches, for potable water efforts and re-forestation. Maestro actively works with Rotary chapters throughout the world during his performance travels.
Maestro’s NPR featured recordings on the program Compact Discoveries have been aired on national public radio throughout the US, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Brooks-Bruzzese´s thirty compact disc recordings are with Pickwick Records in London under the Hallmark and Orchid labels as well as the Symphony of the Americas own label. His recordings and broadcasts include legendary orchestras as the Hungarian Virtuosi, Budapest Chamber Orchestra, Natal Philharmonic and the Xalapa Symphony. His recordings feature a diversity of works from Crazy for Gershwin and Hollywood Favourites, to Piazzolla tangos, and an extensive choice of inspiring string chamber music.
Visit Maestro Official Website www.jamesbrooks-bruzzese.com