All posts by Lise Fisher

Support Music and Education through the Recycled Tunes Instrument Donation Drive

Recycled Tunes Instrument Donation Drive

This year St. Petersburg College is again partnering with the Gasparilla Music Foundation (GMF) to support music and education through the Recycled Tunes instrument donation drive.

Week-long instrument donation drive

Anyone can donate gently used musical instruments at several SPC campus locations from Nov. 27 – Dec. 1. The instruments will be refurbished by Recycled Tunes and then donated to Pinellas County Schools’ music programs.

All donors will receive a ticket to the 2018 Gasparilla Music Festival.

This is the second year the college has taken part in the effort. Last year more than 80 instruments were collected.

Instrument donation drive details

The donation drop-off times include:

  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. from Monday, Nov. 27, through Thursday, Nov. 30
  • 9 a.m. – noon on Friday, Dec. 1

The SPC drop-off locations include:

For more information, contact Rosaria Pipitone at 727-314-4722 and visit the Recycled Tunes Instrument Drive website.

Enjoy Jazz Appreciation Month with a FREE concert

St. Peterburg College will host Jazz in the Stacks this month, a free concert featuring the band O Som Do Jazz.

The concert is being held in honor of April, which is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St., Seminole.

“Based in St. Petersburg, O Som Do Jazz features Rio de Janeiro singer Andrea Moraes Manson and a crew of experienced musicians performing Brazilian jazz, Bossa Nova, samba-jazz, Balanço and MPB,” according to the band’s website.  “O Som Do Jazz (the sound of jazz in Portuguese) recaptures the grace, energy and spirit of 1960s Brazilian music.”

For more information, call 727-394-6917.

MIRA presents an evening with ‘Wrecking Crew’ director Denny Tedesco

St. Petersburg College students and the public are invited this month to screen a documentary about the musicians who drove many 60s hits and meet the film’s director.

SPC’s Music Industry Recording Arts Program presents “The Wrecking Crew: An Evening with Denny Tedesco” on April 24.  Tedesco’s film will be screened at the Muvico Sundial 19 with a reception and Q&A with the director following at the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College’s Side Door Cabaret.

Adobe Photoshop PDFProceeds from the event will support MIRA scholarships at SPC. The MIRA program helps students develop “real world” skills that artists need to thrive in a diverse and competitive music industry.

What the Funk Brothers did for Motown, The Wrecking Crew did, only bigger, for the West Coast Sound. Six years in a row in the 60s and early 70s, the Grammy for Record of the Year went to Wrecking Crew recordings. And now, “The Wrecking Crew” tells the story in pictures and that oh, so glorious sound. The favorite songs of a generation are all here, presented by the people who made them.

“The Wrecking Crew” is a documentary film produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of legendary late Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco. It didn’t matter if it was Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds or The Beach Boys. These dedicated musicians brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “west coast sound” a dominant cultural force around the world. The film is a fun and moving tribute from Denny to his father and to the music, the times and to the secret star-making machine known only as The Wrecking Crew.

MIRA offers a well-rounded, technology-based educational experience to student musicians, composers, producers, DJs, live-sound reinforcement enthusiasts, broadcast audio engineers and post-production technologists. It emphasizes creative processes, technical training, business practices and entrepreneurial skills in a collaborative environment.

  • Time: Film screening at 6:15 p.m.
  • Location: Muvico Sundial 19 + IMAX, 151 2nd Ave N, St Petersburg
  • Time: Reception and Q&A with Denny Tedesco from 9 – 11 p.m.
  • Location: Palladium’s Side Door Cabaret, 253 5th Ave N, St Petersburg
  • Admission: FREE for SPC students with ID. For non-students, a suggested $10 donation goes towards Music Industry/Recording Arts scholarships at SPC. Limited theater seating, so get there early!
  • Contact: Chad Mairn,; 727-394-6917

SPC professor signs with Hollywood producer for screenplay ‘LIBERTAIRE’

LIBERTAIRE, a screenplay written by St. Petersburg College fine arts professor Elizabeth Indianos, has been selected to be made into a movie. “I’ve signed with a producer and am just now waiting for things to happen,” said Indianos, who signed with Hollywood producer Leslie LaPage. LaPage is a producer dedicated to empowering women with quality films directed and produced by professional women. She also has produced, directed and line produced for film, TV, music videos, commercials and theatrical productions. Indianos met LaPage when she won Best Screenplay at the 2013 La Femme International Film Festival in Los Angeles, an annual women’s film festival LaPage launched in 2005. It’s a dream come true for Indianos, who consulted on her screenplay with Robert McKee, a Fulbright Scholar whose Story Seminar writing classes are world-renowned. She also worked with editor Annette Kaufman, whom she credits with helping hone every nuance of her written works. LIBERTAIRE is the story of Joe Pulitzer and Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor and a newspaperman who fight discrimination an indifference for a woman no one wanted: Lady Liberty. Excited about the opportunity to see one of her award-winning screenplays to come to life as a film, Indianos has been working with Hollywood film attorney Keith Burglund to help facilitate the process. “This has been my first experience doing this, but it has been wonderful because we really see eye-to-eye and had a shared vision about things,” she said about working with Burglund. Although no production date has yet been announced, LaPage is now working to find the talent, director, and film incentives in different countries to get the process started. Indianos is eager to see the film’s production process begin. Once everything is in place, she hopes to serve as a consultant during the making of the film.

The movie poster for LIBERTAIRE.
The movie poster for LIBERTAIRE.

LIBERTAIRE was selected as one of the Top 10 movie scripts and won Best Screenplay in the Historical Category for the fourth annual Sundance Table Read My Screenplay contest. Since then, the screenplay won additional awards across the country at the 2013 Williamsburg International Film Festival in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a finalist at the 2013 Sacramento International Film Festival and the 2013 Beverly Hills Film Festival. LIBERTAIRE also made it in the top 10 percent of all 7,197 entries for the 2012 Nicholls Fellowship in Screenwriting, which is sponsored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The screenplay also has been nominated twice for a Culture and Heritage Award by Fresh Voices, a consortium of industry professionals that strives to discover, encourage and promote the most promising voices in storytelling. In addition to LIBERTAIRE, Indianos also has written Waiting for Guacamole, a play inspired by Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. It is not a modern retelling of Beckett’s play, rather a comedic drama inspired by and loosely based upon the literary classic. Forty paintings in the form of banners also contribute to the storytelling and the story’s conclusion. Waiting for Guacamole was recently exhibited in a faculty art show at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at the SPC Tarpon Springs Campus.

SPC award helps student earn Nintendo developer license

Taylor Hajash and his girlfriend, Chelsie.
Taylor Hajash and his girlfriend, Chelsie.

Taylor Hajash, a lifelong video game fan, has become a licensed Nintendo game developer partly due to an award he received in an SPC competition.

The path to the license began when Taylor, 25, a student in the Digital Media program, bought a tablet for his girlfriend, Chelsie.

“She was always playing these games she’d purchase and would then get annoyed when, after playing for 15 minutes, she’d have to spend a bunch of money to buy coins or extra lives if she wanted to keep playing,” he said. “I thought that was ridiculous. So I started looking into how to make my own games that she could play.”

As his game began to take shape, he applied to be a licensed Nintendo game developer. Several months and several contacts later, he had no response from the corporate gaming giant.

Then, on April 22, he competed in the 2014 SEmmy Awards, an annual competition open to all SPC and high school students. After winning the award for Best Video Game Creation category for his game Super Cuttlefeesh, a puzzle platform game for cell phones and tablets, he sent pictures of the award and screenshots of his game to Nintendo.

Proposed Super Cuttlefeesh cover art by Taylor Hajash.
Proposed Super Cuttlefeesh cover art by Taylor Hajash.

Within eight hours, Taylor received a phone call from Nintendo’s Indie Development Representative. The representative approved him over the phone to become a licensed game designer for the company.

Taylor said winning the award help open the doors with Nintendo.

“I think I wasn’t high on their priority list and that’s why I wasn’t hearing back from them,” he said. “But as soon as they found out I won an award, they jumped on the opportunity to bring me aboard.”

He has been funding the project himself but is working to get funding for further development.

“Between software, computers, hardware, music and stuff like that, I’ve spent about $15,000 of my own money so far,” Taylor said.

“My biggest hurdle is now behind me,” he said. “I’m hoping to have Super Cuttlefeesh out on the Wii U by the end of summer and start development on my second game shortly after.”

The complete list of SEmmy winners:

Best Website Design
Marina Rambo- “Marina Rambo Web and Graphic Design”
Best Video Game Creation
Taylor Hajash- “Super CuttleFeesh”
Best Editing
Ali Shahriari, Christian Costello, Zack Murray-“ Nuthing’ But Crunch-Doritos Commercial”
Best Camera
Fillipe Bergson- “Hunger”
Best Direction
Ali Shahriari, Christian Costello- “Coming Up Short”
Best Digital Graphics
Heather Rambo, “Painting with a Twist” Brochure
Best Digital Imaging
Scott Dunn-“Swiss Watch”
Best Song
Ryan Blank “Same Things”
Best Thematic Composition for Film or Game
Steven Scott Berry (ft. Doug Leto) “Hype”
Best Interactive Music/Sound “Zone” Design
Dylan Mixer “Kaja”
Best Internet Media-High School
Charles Lambert-“Video Game Hobby “- Dixie M. Hollins
Best Video Production-High School
Michael Stover, Karolina Zuchowski, Marta Wilczynsk- “Masked”- Shorecrest Preparatory School
Best Digital Graphic Design-High School
Elaine Page, “The Fuze Campaign”- Dixie M. Hollins
Chelsea Mcmanus, “Wizard of Oz Diptych” – Dixie M. Hollins
Dylan Maczis, “The Mirror”- Dixie M. Hollins

Students to perform music composition written for them by Hollywood film composer

Composer Larry Groupe also will lead a free master class for students and the public Thursday, April 24

When St. Petersburg College’s Community Concert Band takes the stage on May 1, its student members will play a composition written especially for them by two-time Emmy-award winning composer Larry Groupe.

The piece, Heat Lightning, is the first commissioned composition to be premiered by one of the college’s concert bands. The St. Petersburg College Community Concert Band will perform the world premiere of Heat Lightning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. The performance will be in the Arts Auditorium at the SPC Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St.

“Everyone’s really excited about playing the new piece,” said Nathan Muehl, Director of Band and Orchestra at the SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “It’s a challenging piece but the students have really enjoyed working on it.”

The students also will have a chance to meet and interact with Groupé, whose feature film composition credits include Straw Dogs, Nothing But the Truth, Resurrecting the Champ and The Contender. Some of his other credits include compositions for television series Commander in Chief, Line of Fire and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Groupe will conduct a free Master Class on film scoring from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday in HS 117 on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. The class is open to students and the public. He also will attend the Wind Symphony rehearsal at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

The composition was funded by a Faculty Governance Organization Creativity Grant awarded to music professors Jeff Donovick and Nathan Muehl. Throughout the process, Groupe has interacted with students by video conferencing from his Los Angeles office. The goal was for students to learn from Groupe during the beginning, middle and end stages of creating a new composition.

“We were able to pick his brain about what he does when starting a new piece, how he gets direction, and the nitty-gritty of how he works through his type of composing,” Muehl said.

(Watch a clip from one of the interactive internet sessions.)

Groupe has family ties to Pinellas County, where he also attended school as a child. He and Donovick knew one another as youths when their fathers worked for Life Sciences, Inc. a research and development center in St. Petersburg.

Donovick describes Groupe as being a man with a heart for education. Groupe previously has taught several master classes at SPC and has conducted guest lectures at other colleges and universities.

“He is a friend of St. Petersburg College,” Donovick said. “He supports what we are doing here and is very interested in the way we do things.”

“So as a friend of SPC, he was willing to not only write the music for less money than one would normally charge commercially, but he was willing to accept the terms that required an educational component,” he said. 

MIRA’s The Real Clash makes impact on Tampa Bay area


Thursday’s issue of Creative Loafing features one of St. Petersburg College’s student success stories, “The Real Clash.”

Under the guidance of Professor Alejandro Arenas, this group of talented SPC Music Industry Recording Arts students have put together a powerful combination that has a great groove and infuses positivity into their message.

“This being the second time we were mentioned by someone at Creative Loafing, it feels amazing and surreal,” said Jay “Jay Acolyte” Wilson, the band’s producer and lyricist.

“I didn’t imagine all of the years that I had been performing and writing that I would be featured in a famously read periodical with the best group of talented people I have ever worked with,” Wilson said. “We are all excited and have been since we found out that this was happening and couldn’t be more happy to have the support of the MIRA program and St. Petersburg College. We are motivated to keep going until there is no more to go for and beyond. Thank you for giving us the tools and encouragement. We are proud of ourselves and appreciative.”

From the Creative Loafing article:

“The Real Clash grew out of SPC’s two-year Music Industry Recording Arts (MIRA) program, which is dedicated to delivering real-world training to its students, all within a collaborative environment. MIRA students gain relevant skills and insight into real world experiences, not to mention free access to three versatile state-of-the-art audio production suites/classrooms. Originally, the plan was to follow the school’s already-existing model for rock and jazz ensembles: establish the curriculum for hip-hop, then pass the torch to a new group after a semester. But they wanted to write their own material. ‘That’s what made us different from the jump,’ says frontman/lyricist Rashad ‘Shadcore’ Harrell . ‘All the other ensembles do covers; we wanted to do original compositions.’ Months later, they’d written, played and recorded some first-rate material, delivered buzzworthy performances around the SPC campus and were trying to figure out what to do once the semester was done and credit earned. Their creativity was still flowing, chemistry swiftly growing, everyone was having a good time, so why quit? ‘You will be doing yourself a disservice if you cut it off after this semester is over,’ Rashad remembers Mark Matthews (MIRA Chair) saying after he saw the ensemble perform at a campus event. ‘You should take it outside of these four walls.’ Matthews’ encouragement solidified the band’s decision to make The Real Clash a full-fledged (off-campus) group.”

Visit Creative Loafing to read the issue.

The MIRA program helps students develop “real world” skills that artists need to thrive in a diverse and competitive music industry. It offers educational experience to student musicians, composers, producers, DJs, live-sound reinforcement enthusiasts, broadcast audio engineers, and post-production technologists and emphasizes creative processes, technical training, business practices and entrepreneurial skills in a collaborative environment.

The next performance for The Real Clash will be at the Typhoon Haiyan Benefit Show, Saturday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., at Local 662, St. Petersburg. There is a $5 suggested donation. Follow The Real Clash on Facebook and WordPress.

You also can listen to The Real Clash and donate $1 to the relief fund of Typhoon Haiyan.


MIRA, Digital Arts students get up-close view of a TV news operation

On Oct. 11, students from St. Petersburg College’s MIRA (Music Industry/Recording Arts) program and the Digital Arts program experienced an educational tour of ABC Studios in Tampa.

This was  an excellent opportunity for MIRA/Digital Arts students to network with local businesses to further their career goals while witnessing live and pre-produced television content first-hand.

MIRA student Scott Klimczak said, “My tour at ABC studios was very exciting and informational. The ABC staff was very easy to understand and professional. I learned a lot of how a television newscast is produced and managed.”

The students had a behind-the-scenes tour guided by ABC’s John Fulton, who gave them a look at all aspects of the studio, from pre-production and editing to the live broadcast of the 5 p.m. news.

The students were able to see what a career in live television production would be like. Many of them asked insightful questions regarding the equipment and programs that ABC news uses, and a few questions of what it is like to build a career in the industry.

ABC tour


MIRA ‘opened my eyes’ to a music industry career

SPC graduate Dustin Brause is putting the college’s degree in Music Industry Recording Arts to work behind the camera and online.

Brause, 23, received his associate of science degree in SPC’s MIRA program in early 2012. He now is working as both the leading sound advisor for the startup video game company Solvent Studios and a freelancer for a Tampa ad agency.

SPC MIRA graduate Dustin Brause works as a sound man on a Sweetbay commercial.

That’s Brause behind the scenes during the filming of a Sweetbay commercial where he was part of a two-man sound team. “We’re very proud of his success,” said Mark Matthews, MIRA’s lead instructor.

Brause said he had always been involved in music, participating in band and dabbling on the computer. When he started looking at schools, he found out about the MIRA program at SPC, what it offered and that it was more affordable than other educational opportunities in this field.

“I would say that it definitely opened my eyes as to how much really is involved and how many different types of jobs there are,” Brause said about MIRA. “They try to prepare you for how it will be like to get a job.”

Looking back, Brause said he would advise current MIRA students to network with people in the music industry. “Networking really makes a difference while in school,” he said. “It’s the primary way people get work in the industry.”

Looking ahead, he’s hoping things will take off for Solvent Studios and his work with them. He also is watching for an opportunity to learn more through MIRA at SPC.

Brause’s dream job would be to work as a sound mixer for film and television, he said. However, he would need more specialized training, which he hopes MIRA will provide if it expands and begins offering a bachelor’s program. With people in the music industry considering job options in film, television and online, Brause said, “There are a lot of opportunities for (MIRA) to grow.”




‘Sweeney Todd’ brings SPC alumnus home

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Oct. 5, 7 and 9

The Tony-award winning show features the murderous thrills and machinations of the vengeful English barber, his accommodating landlady and a colorful cast of characters from 19th century London. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler.

Russell Andrade and the rest of the cast of Sweeney Todd will perform at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. For tickets, visit the St. Petersburg Opera website.

Like the main character in the musical Sweeney Todd, Russell Andrade finds himself returning to the place he calls home after several years away. But, thankfully, that is where the similarities end for Andrade and the fictional butcher barber.

Andrade, 32, a St. Petersburg College alumnus and St. Petersburg Opera Emerging Artist, will perform the cover role of Beadle Bamford, a pompous public official whose loyalty is to a corrupt judge, in St. Petersburg Opera’s  Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Palladium Theater.

Born in Dubai but of Portuguese descent, he came to the U.S. to work as a computer engineer in Ohio, but his heart wasn’t in it. In 1999, he decided to enroll at St. Petersburg College because he wanted to be closer to his grandmother who lived about two blocks from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

Russell Andrade
Russell Andrade

Wanting to become a classical guitarist, Andrade began studying with Instructor Joe Braccio and also began taking voice lessons with former Instructor Ronald Billingsley. But his plans of becoming a classical guitarist came to a halt the following year when he suffered nerve damage to his hands in a car accident. He turned his attention to singing and joined the college’s chorus and musical theater.

In hindsight, Andrade looks at the car accident as an unusual blessing.

“There are a number of reasons why it’s great,” said the lyric tenor. “The fact is I’m a far better singer than I ever was a guitar player, and the accident helped me to focus on my voice.”

“There’s a sensation you get when you sing and you sing well, when you sing without effort,” he said. “It’s kind of a high. It just makes you feel euphoric.”

“I feel sorry for the computer engineers who never get to know what it is like.”

After graduating from SPC in 2003, Andrade earned Bachelor of Music degrees in vocal performance and music composition from the University of Georgia. He also completed graduate work in arts administration at Florida State University.

Since his time at SPC, Andrade has performed as a recital soloist with the Vermont Philharmonic and the Northwinds Symphonic Band, as well as in the chorus of the Atlanta Opera, along with many other gigs. He has received several awards, including the 2006 Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Award for the Atlanta District, as well as the Bel Canto Institute Performance and Orchestral Performance awards.

Andrade is excited to set foot on stage in SPC’s Palladium Theater and to again be doing something in the area.

“St. Pete College has impacted my life a lot,” he said. “I still have pride in SPC because it’s done so much for me.

Though he resides in Lawrenceville, Ga., he tries to remain active with the college. In January 2010, Andrade performed a recital at the St. Petersburg College Music Center to raise funds for the Earlene and Marvin Tiehaara Endowed Music Scholarship in honor of his late SPC piano teacher, Marvin, and his late wife.

“To this day, I still have more contacts from SPC than I’ve got from grad school or the University of Georgia,” he said. “Everyone just became friends with everyone, and that really makes a difference.”