All posts by David Manson

SPC Music Faculty: On Stage and in the Studio

Music faculty work with SPC students

Check out some of the latest happenings and updates from St. Petersburg College Music faculty members.

Guitar faculty Joe Braccio is coordinating a masterclass and concert with internationally renowned guitarist Andrew York at SPC on Oct. 20, 2018.

Jeff Donovick is spearheading collaborations among SPC student composers, local artists and various productions, including bumper music for the 2018 SEmmy Awards, music for the Gulf Coast MakerCon and Pinellas ComicCon, as well as with the Tarpon Performing Arts Center and Jon Petrelli Music and Rock Brothers Brewing. He earned Avid Certified Instructor status for Sibelius notation software and also is offering instruction in Ableton Live 10 and Digital Performer 9 for MIDI orchestration and composition through the Contemporary Keyboards courses at SPC. He ranked locally #1 for Electronica on ReverbNation.

Dr. David Manson and MIRA faculty members Mark Feinman and Alejandro Arenas performed at the Miami International Jazz Fest on April 27 with their Brazilian jazz group O Som Do Jazz. Manson received an Individual Artist Grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance for music composition and scheduled a free concert of this music on Aug. 11 at the venue ARTS46/4. He also contracted musicians and performed in Magnetic Fields: Sonic Abstractions at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, directed by Chicago composer Renee Baker, on July 28. He is coordinating a workshop with Venezuelan sound artist Gustavo Matamoros at SPC on Aug. 23.

Dr. Marilyn Michael, director of the 2018 Summer Vocal Institute and voice faculty at SPC, spotlighted a performance at the conclusion of the institute from the Opera Workshop class. The program, held June 15 at the Music Center at SPC, included arias, duets, and opera ensembles, including the famous “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco by Verdi. The evening concluded with excerpts from Act I of Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. Dr. Susan Robinson was the music director of the class. Professor Scott Cooper, full-time theater professor on Clearwater Campus, was the guest stage director, and Shawn Thomas was the accompanist. Dr. Michael assigned and rehearsed the roles as part of the students’ private voice lessons during this five-week intensive study of voice and opera.

Susan Robinson will be guest conducting the National Radio Symphony in Moldova on Sept. 5. The program will include the  Russian Easter Overture by Rimsky-Korsakov, Polovtsian Dances by Borodin, and Symphony No. 5 by Tchaikovsky. On Dec. 8, she will conduct a concert with the Skagit Symphony outside Seattle, Wash.  It will be a holiday concert featuring the Master Chorale singing Magnificat by Pergolesi.  It will also include the Christmas Overture by Nicolai, Karelia Suite by Sibelius, and that perennial favorite, Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. 

John Shaw (percussion) and Anna Kate Mackle (harp) premiered a new composition for harp and marimba, Labyrinth of Light by Nathan Daughtrey, at the Eastern Music Festival on July 3.

Voice faculty Linda Switzer will be presenting with classical guitarist Pepe Romero at The Centro Asturiano in Ybor City on Oct. 19. Linda, along with Hillsborough Community College Professor of Music Mark Switzer, will be performing with him.

Music and Music Faculty at SPC

SPC’s comprehensive Music curriculum and highly-qualified faculty allow for numerous artistic directions and career paths as Music students learn their craft. SPC offers the highest quality private instruction in voice, piano, pipe organ or orchestral instruments. The college’s music faculty are among the finest musicians and instructors in the Tampa Bay area and the State of Florida.

Helios Jazz Orchestra on the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Helios Jazz Orchestra

The Helios Jazz Orchestra performs at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 20 at 4:15 p.m.  The 18-member big band jazz group is a St. Petersburg College ensemble-in-residence and course formed by SPC Music Industry and Recording Arts program faculty member David Manson.

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday has been a Tampa Bay tradition for nearly 40 years, hosting talented artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and Kool and the Gang. Helios members will share a stage with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, John Clearly, and Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox. Helios will be backing jazz singer Jamie Perlow.

Don’t forget that St. Petersburg College students can get free tickets to the festival! This is a great opportunity for students to come out and support student musicians and listen to some great jazz. If you can’t make the festival, there are plenty of great opportunities to see Helios in action. Helios also performs at the black tie gala Pavillion XXXII at the Tampa Museum of Art on November 4 and the Palladium Theater Side Door venue on November 21 with singer Kirsten Joyer.

The Music Industry and Recording Arts program emphasizes creative processes, technical training, business practices and entrepreneurial skills in a collaborative environment. Learn more about the MIRA program today.

2017 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival kicks off Feb. 22

2017 St. Petersburg Jazz FestivalThe 2017 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival is set for Feb. 22-26 at the Palladium Theater.  Now in its ninth year, the popular jazz festival is directed by SPC music professor David Manson and is a community cultural outreach event presented by St. Petersburg College and EMIT, a nonprofit arts organization directed by Manson.

In addition to five evenings of jazz music at the Palladium Theater, there will be five free masterclasses with visiting jazz artists at the college’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival Palladium Theater concerts

Advance tickets for these concerts are available at or by calling 727-822-3590:

Wednesday, Feb. 22 – 7:30 p.m.

Since 2013, Robotman has been exploring new sounds and concepts of instrumental music. Combining jazz with elements of rock, hip hop, fusion and Latin styles, their sound is progressive and experimental. Based out of Central Florida, each of the band’s five members contribute to the all-original library of compositions. While constructed similarly to a traditional jazz quintet, Robotman takes advantage of new technology to create a sound unlike anything you’d hear anywhere else. The band is comprised of Jeremy Fratti (Saxophones), Matt McCarthy (Trumpet/Fluegelhorn), John Krasula (Guitar), Marco Bojorquez IV (Acoustic/Electric Bass) and Jeremy Katalenic (Drums/Percussion).

Thursday, Feb. 23 – 7:30 p.m.
Martin Bejerano Trio

A native of Miami, Florida, Martin Bejerano is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts, Florida State University, and the University of Miami (M.M., Jazz Piano Performance). After winning third place in the prestigious 1999 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, he moved to New York City and joined the quartet of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes. In 2004, their recording Fountain of Youth was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. In 2002, Martin Bejerano also joined guitarist Russell Malone’s quartet, and continues to tour and record with both groups. He has performed with such jazz luminaries as the Christian McBride Band, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Adam  Nussbaum, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Lonnie Plaxico Group and Marcus Printup at major jazz festivals, clubs and venues around the world. In 2007, his debut CD as a leader, Evolution/Revolution (Reservoir) rose to number nine on the Jazz Week Jazz Album Chart. He was recently awarded the New Jazz Works composer/ensemble grant from Chamber Music of America. Josh Allen (bass) and Michael Piolet (drums) join Martin in this performance at the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival held at the Side Door at the Palladium.

Friday, Feb. 24 – 7:30 p.m.
Joshua Breakstone Trio

Playing guitar from an early age, Joshua Breakstone began taking an interest in jazz at the start of his teenage years. He studied privately with Sal Salvador and also attended Berklee College Of Music. In 1977, he toured Canada with Glen Hall, making his recording debut with this band. He taught guitar at Rhode Island Conservatory of Music from 1979-1981, during which period he played regularly at New York clubs. Other musicians he worked with included  Warne Marsh, Emily Remler, Dave Schnitten and Vic Juris. His debut album as leader came in 1983 on which he was teamed with the Barry Harris Trio. For his second album, Joshua Breakstone linked up with Kenny Barron, with whom he was to have a long and musically rewarding relationship. Other musicians with whom he worked and recorded during the 80s and 90s were Pepper Adams, Jimmy Knepper and Kenny Washington.

Although strongly bop influenced in his approach to music, Breakstone’s repertoire ranges widely. He often plays songs from the pop scene of his formative years, for example the
Ventures’ material on Walk Don’t Run, bringing to them original thought and displaying as much care as he brings to the music of bop giants such as Thelonious Monk. Technically
accomplished though he is, Breakstone often chooses to play clean, single-note lines that hark back to the beginnings of bop guitar. Overlying much of his work is an aura of carefully constructed, if somewhat introspective, musicianship that is of a very high order. Joshua is joined by veteran bassist Don Moptick and La Lucha & O Som Do Jazz drummer Mark Feinman.

Saturday, Feb. 25 – 7:30 p.m.
The Helios Jazz Orchestra with Whitney James and Fred Johnson

Fred Johnson is an international performer and has spent the past 35 years presenting international concerts and seminars on the power of creative expression as a tool for
personal wellbeing and healing. He has performed on stage with or as the opening act for such musical greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Herbie Mann, Nat Adderly, Joe Zawinul, David Sanborn, Richard Elliot, Ramsey Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Patti La Belle,
Patti Austin, George Benson, BB King and many others. He has presented programs in association with Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Maya Angelou and many others.

Whitney James spent about a decade performing on both coasts of the country before she went to New York to record “The Nature of Love.” When her debut album came out in 2010 it was if a new vocalist had appeared on the jazz scene. Jazz critics loved it! The reviews led to James being featured last year on the popular NPR program “Piano Jazz: Rising Stars” with host Jon Weber accompanying her on piano. Marian McPartland, the 95-year-old Grammywinning jazz pianist-composer and original host of “Piano Jazz,” had read about James’ debut album, acquired a copy and then suggested the producers spotlight her.

Sunday, Feb. 26 – 7:30 p.m.
Jason Lee Bruns and the SPC Jazz Profs

As either a drummer and/or percussionist Jason Lee Bruns has performed in the bands of major artist including Beck, Louis Price (The Temptations), and Liane Carroll (2x BBC Jazz Award Winner). He has performed at top L.A. venues including Disney Hall, House of Blues, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato, the E-Spot Lounge, and Catalina Jazz Club. Jason has self-produced eight recordings to date on his label Panout Music Group™. With the most recent being “Cherry Avenue” featuring singer Kevin Bachelder. The preceding album, “Live at Catalina Jazz Club”, peaked at #8 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Charts. Jason is joined by St. Petersburg College Jazz & MIRA faculty Austin Vickrey, Alejandro Arenas, John Richardson, David Manson and Pat Hernly.

For more information visit

Jazz concert proceeds benefit SPC music scholarships

Jazz concert artist David Manson
Professor David Manson

A jazz concert featuring new compositions by St. Petersburg College professor David Manson and O Som Do Jazz will be held Saturday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the SPC Music Center.

The jazz concert is a scholarship benefit event for St. Petersburg College music students. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Learn more about SPC’s Music program offerings.

Supported by an Individual Artist Grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, this free jazz concert features new works fusing various Brazilian styles (Samba, Afoxê, Coco, Baião) with Bossa Nova and jazz. Rio de Janeiro singer Andrea Moraes Manson will be featured with the sextet including SPC music faculty members Alejandro Arenas, Mark Feinman, Austin Vickrey and David Manson. SPC alumni Jeremy Douglass plays piano in this group.

Jazz concert performance by O Som Do Jazz
Brazilian jazz group O Som Do Jazz

O Som Do Jazz has performed on the Clearwater Jazz Holiday , Mod Miami, Winter Garden Music Fest, St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, Ybor Jazz Fest and other events. Two original songs from the group’s last CD (A Kiss for Rio), were placed in the HBO series “Looking”.