Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning Announces 2018 “Music Mondays” Series

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Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning Announces 2018 “Music Mondays” Series

This beloved series, featuring performances and lively conversations with renowned performers and conductors, continues in Sarasota and Venice, January through March 2018. Edward Alley assumes role as host and producer. This season, the series is dedicated to June LeBell’s life and legacy.


(Sarasota, Florida) Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning’s popular “Music Mondays” series features performances and lively conversations with renowned performers and conductors. SILL’s musical series originated in 1999 as an adjunct to its original programs on global issues, and was originally a series of academic lectures. That changed after 2006 when June LeBell took over as host and producer. LeBell, an award-winning lecturer, columnist, classical music advocate and iconic WQXR host, ultimately transformed the program. She later changed the name to “Music Mondays” and broadened the series’ scope to include in-depth and insightful conversations and performances. Under her leadership, the captivating three-month series, which runs January through March in both Sarasota and Venice, quickly became one of the area’s most well-attended events, typically attracting more than 600 people to each presentation.

Until recently, LeBell hosted this series in Sarasota, with Dr. Joseph Holt and Robert Sherman co-hosting in Venice. Sadly, that changed when LeBell passed away in April, following a five-year struggle with ovarian cancer. Edward Alley, LeBell’s surviving husband, will now assume the responsibilities as series’ producer and Sarasota host. He had previously co-produced the series with LeBell.

Alley’s credentials are impressive. During his extensive music career, he served as the conductor of the renowned 7th Army Symphony in Europe, was associate director of the Juilliard Opera Center, executive director of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, and managed the New York Philharmonic. In Sarasota, Alley has served as a trustee of the Sarasota Opera, president of Gloria Musicae, and chair of the TDC grant and policy panels of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota.

While Alley will be assuming the role of host and producer of Music Mondays, he says he is not replacing LeBell. “June is irreplaceable,” says Alley. “But we can honor her legacy by keeping this beloved series alive.”

The 2018 series will open with Bruce Adolphe, pianist, composer, author and host of NPR’s “Piano Puzzler.” The outstanding line-up of guests continues with MET Opera tenor Rafael Davila; John Miller, principal bass of the Sarasota Orchestra; and Jamie Bernstein, a concert narrator, writer and broadcaster—and daughter of the famous composer. The season closes with a return engagement of Ashu, the charismatic, incandescent saxophonist who charmed audiences on his first visit in 2016. (See complete list and schedule below.)

It’s an amazing array of musical talent. But Alley doesn’t take credit for all of it.

“June and I planned the entire season months ago,” says Alley. “June’s genius and human touch shines through in every selection.”

Alley will host the Monday morning sessions in Sarasota at Church of the Palms. Afternoon sessions in Venice will be co-hosted by Dr. Joseph Holt, artistic director of Choral Artists of Sarasota and Artist Series Concerts, and former principal pianist for the US Army Chorus; and Robert Sherman, longtime broadcaster for WQXR in NYC, and host of McGraw-Hill’s “Young Artist Showcase” and “Woody’s Children.”

Music Mondays’ entire 2018 season is called the “June LeBell Memorial Season,” and dedicated to her life and legacy.


The 2018 Music Mondays series

  • Bruce Adolphe (January 8):  Renowned composer and pianist Bruce Adolphe is also the author of several books on music, an innovative educator, a versatile performer and one of the country’s top lecturers (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center). He is also the host of “Piano Puzzler” on NPR’s “Performance Today.” This return visit features live performance, a video presentation and a special composition dedicated to June LeBell.
  • Warren Jones (January 15):  Warren Jones’ playing has been called “exquisite” by the NY Times. He has performed and partnered with many of the world’s best-known artists, including Stephanie Blythe, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Samuel Ramey, Kathleen Battle, and Marilyn Horne. See and hear how he transforms the meaning of “accompanying” to true collaboration with his performing artists.
  • Bella Hristova (January 22): Acclaimed for her passionate, powerful performances and beautiful sound, violinist Bella Hristova is a young musician with a growing international career. Winner of many awards, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant, she has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and with numerous orchestras throughout the world. This will be her SILL debut.
  • Rafael Davila (January 29): Long a favorite with the Sarasota Opera, tenor Rafael Davila performs with Chicago Lyric, Washington National Opera, and enjoyed a stunning debut at the MET as Don José in “Carmen” on only 1 ½ hours’ notice.  Learn about the life of an opera singer and hear his glorious voice live.
  • Ji (February 5): Ji has been praised from an early age for his compelling musical presence and impressive technique. He has been featured with most major symphony orchestras and is the star of the popular android TV commercial featuring a piano tuned so that each pitch plays middle C. This is his first appearance with Music Mondays.
  • Justino Díaz: (February 12): Justino Díaz starred with Leontyne Price in the opening performance of the new MET in Lincoln Center, and has since sung all over the world, including in Franco Zeffirelli’s movie of Verdi’s “Otello” and “Callas Forever.” He has also served as artistic director of the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. 
  • John Miller (February 19): John Miller is more than just another face behind that big bass fiddle. Principal bass player of the Sarasota Orchestra for 25 years, Miller will share witty observations about music and performance.
  • Daniel Jordan (February 26): Probably the best-known violinist in Sarasota, Daniel Jordan has been concertmaster of the Sarasota Orchestra since 1998.  He is also the principal second violin of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. Jordan plays a very special Guarneri violin on loan from the Steinwachs Family Foundation and discusses and demonstrates what makes it so special.
  • Narek Arutyunian (March 5): Now only 25, clarinetist Narek Arutyunian was already an international prize winner at the age of 16. Since then he has performed to vast praise around the world. The Washington Post called him “an artist who reaches passionate depths with seemingly effortless technical prowess and beguiling sensitivity.”
  • Jenny Kim-Godfrey (March 12): Jenny Kim-Godfrey has already endeared herself to audiences with her lovely tone and engaging stage presence. She was featured with the Gloria Musicae Singers (now Choral Artists of Sarasota) on at least two occasions and brings her lovely voice and bubbly personality to Music Mondays for her first solo appearance.
  • Jamie Bernstein (March 19): The daughter of Leonard Bernstein is a musician in her own right, as well as music commentator, writer, and radio personality. Bernstein is making a special return visit to SILL in commemoration of her father’s centennial year. She will bring stories galore and some fascinating videos of his work. 
  • Ashu (March 26): Ashu has developed a trailblazing career as the first and only full-time concert saxophone soloist, and he has repeatedly defied conventions by winning major international awards and competitions traditionally won by pianists and violinists. He created such a sensation on his first visit to SILL that he was invited back for a return appearance.


“Monday Music” sessions are held on Mondays, January 9, 2018, through March 26, 2018. The morning sessions are 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Palms, 3224 Bee Ridge Road. Afternoon sessions are at 3 p.m. at Venice Presbyterian Church, 825 The Rialto. Tickets are $10 per session or $85 for the entire series. To purchase tickets, visit For more information, call 941-365-6404.


About the Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning

The Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL) is a non-profit organization that offers an expert lecture series to provide information on and discussion of the arts and contemporary global issues. SILL is guided by an all-volunteer board committed to modest pricing and enhanced outreach. Visit

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