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16 Miami-Dade County Students Win Spot to Perform in Professional Concert at Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation's Much Anticipated Piano Slam 8


PIANO SLAM 8, an annual competition for writing poetry inspired by music for Miami-Dade County's middle and high school students, presents its 16 finalists for an exciting and engaging live performance at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, April 13th at 7:30pm. The mission of PIANO SLAM is to utilize music as a tool and motivation to give youth a voice and develop creative writing skills through artistic expression.

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PIANO SLAM's months-long competition culminates in a grand Classical/Hip-Hop concert that combines the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation's (Dranoff) internationally acclaimed and award-winning classical pianists, professional modern and hip-hop dancers, renowned poets and spoken word artists, in collaboration with middle and high school students throughout Miami-Dade County. Thousands of students participate annually and compose works of poetry inspired by their reactions to classical music performed in concert by Dranoff duo piano winning artists at multiple public schools. This year's piano duo Yoon and Kim travelled from their home of South Korea to participate.

"Each year we look forward to this live music and poetry performance event that engages and inspires so many local teenagers. Research shows that adding arts and music programs during the school day helps the overall education process including comprehending math and the sciences," states Carlene Sawyer, director of Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation.

"PIANO SLAM is the only fully integrated arts program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This is a spectacular event that truly embraces the importance of music and arts in furthering our students overall academic success," said Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools, Alberto M. Carvalho. "We all look forward to PIANO SLAM every year and are proud that the Dranoff Foundation cares to get involved with our students and help them achieve greatness – because we know they are capable."

The 16 winning finalists will perform under the direction of award-winning playwright and director, Teo Castellanos, in a Broadway-style live show. Under Mr. Castellanos' guidance, students are transformed as professionals during intensive writing and performance coaching.

The winning student poets performing at PIANO SLAM 8:


Middle Schools

Christopher Badillo (George Washington Carver Middle)
Daniel Fernandez (Ponce de Leon Middle School)
David Gibbons (Carol City Middle)
Amelia Navarro (Hialeah Miami Lakes K-8)
Chika Ojukwu (Lawton Chiles)
Mandalyn Snyder (Leisure City K-8)
Monesha Strowbridge (Horace Mann Middle)
Elyse Thomas (Miami Arts Middle)

High Schools

James Balo (Design and Architecture)
Stephanie Casio (Miami Arts Charter)
Eveul Exil (Miami Edison Senior)
William Gordon (Miami Norland Senior)
Stephanie Hernandez (Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior)
Exzavier Moss (Homestead High)
Katherine Nichols (Miami Arts Charter)
Andrew Ruby (Miami Norland)

PIANO SLAM 8 is presented by Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, generously sponsored by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Steinway and Sons, the Miami HEAT, Children's Trust, Books & Books, The Batchelor Foundation, and The Ware Foundation.

Miami HEAT teammates, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow, shared some of their favorite poems that have significance to them, encouraging kids to embrace the power of expressing themselves and sharing their creativity with others. "I am so proud to once again be part of PIANO SLAM this year," says Udonis Haslem, Co-captain of the Miami HEAT. "I grew up right here in Miami and remember what it takes to meet and complete the creative task that school presents. I applaud the students who accept this challenge!"

PIANO SLAM is free for everyone—for Miami-Dade Public Schools, teachers, students, their families and the Miami community which attends the final performance at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. While tickets for seats are required, they are free. Please visit or call the box office at (305) 949-6722. The program is also live streamed on

"We're thrilled that PIANO SLAM falls during the month of April, which is National Poetry Month, and a wonderful reason to celebrate poets, their craft, and the inspiration they provide," added Ms. Sawyer.

For more information about PIANO SLAM, visit


For 30 years, the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation (Dranoff) has been the world's leading organization to champion exclusively two piano repertoires and artistry. It is the only international foundation, accredited by the World Federation of International Music Competitions, to discover, promote, and award honors to top professional duo piano artists through its competition, commissions, and presentations of duo piano concerts. The Dranoff promotes awareness to a new generation of students of the transformational power of music and the arts through its multi-disciplinary, educational, and inspirational concert program, Piano Slam. The Dranoff is one of the few world-class performing arts organizations headquartered in Miami-Dade County, whose activities span the globe and create recognition abroad of the region's positive image and commitment to the highest standards of creativity and the arts. Dranoff also promotes Miami as an international cultural destination. It exposes its home audiences to major international artists, thereby creating a cultural bridge to foster universal understanding and respect through music. For more information, visit

For Piano Slam
Tyler Sminkey, 786-390-8510

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