Orchestra Miami and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi will celebrate the 95th anniversary of the founding of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) in Miami with a special concert on Saturday, April 9 performed in a restored Coast Guard hangar on Dinner Key.

The 57 musicians will perform two rarely heard American masterworks as part of its Discover Miami through Music series: Kurt Weill’s “Lindbergh's Flight” and Marc Blitzstein’s “Airborne Symphony.” Both works are being staged by director Michael Yawney and feature the Rose Herrera Dance Theatre and Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, led by Assistant Artistic Director Anthony Cabrera. The narratives will be punctuated by the projection of more than 200 historical images compiled by HistoryMiami.

The series was conceived by Rinaldi as a way to educate the community about Miami’s unique history through music.

“By presenting appropriately-themed concerts in Miami’s landmarks, we can learn more about our city — and each other — through music,” she said. “Pan Am played such an important role in the early years of Miami and considering the theatrical nature of both of these pieces, it makes perfect sense to present them in this staged setting.” 

Weill’s “Lindbergh's Flight,” with a libretto by Bertolt Brecht, tells the story of Charles Lindbergh and his historic transatlantic flight. Composed in the style of a Radiolehrstück a “teaching play for the radio,” it has 15 short movements for tenor solo, baritone and bass solo and mixed choir. The role of Charles Lindbergh will be sung by tenor Gregory Schmidt, who last appeared with Orchestra Miami as the hero Tamino in the 2018 production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” 

Blitzstein’s “Airborne Symphony” was originally composed as a score for a film and later reconceived as a large-scale symphony on the theme of "the sacred struggle of the airborne free men of the world . . . to crush the monstrous fascist obstructionist in their path." Blitzstein, a gay man, composed the work in 1945 as a tribute to his companion of five years, Bill Hewitt, and the other men fighting during the war. 

The symphony with narrator and men’s choir chronicles the history of man’s quest for flight from the mythological Icarus through World War II, including the birth of flight at Kittyhawk, the horrors of an aerial attack, the pure joy of flying in a cloudless sky, the tedium of waiting for action, the poignancy of a letter from a homesick bombardier, and the triumph of good over evil. Vanessa Elise will make her Orchestra Miami debut as the narrator, while Philip Kalmanovich will sing the role of the bombardier. 

The former Coast Guard hangar now serves as the headquarters for Shake-a-Leg Miami, a nonprofit organization that offers people living with physical challenges the opportunities to experience sailing, kayaking, fishing and other educational and recreational activities. 

“Working with the City of Miami, we restored the historic U.S. Coast Guard hangar to operate water sports programs. Never did we realize that Orchestra Miami and HistoryMiami Museum would fill it with magnificent music and images from Miami’s rich aviation and boating history. It’s going to be an amazing show,” said Harry Horgan, CEO of Shake A Leg Miami. 

Beyond the music, the concert holds special significance for Rinaldi, whose grandfather, Frank Kilgard, was a mechanic at Pan Am and responsible for the design of several patented aviation systems and mechanisms. 


Orchestra Miami will perform “Discover Miami through Music: Airborne” on Saturday, April 9 at 8 p.m. at Shake-a-Leg Miami, 2620 S. Bayshore Dr. in Miami. Tickets start at $35 and a $10 livestream will also be offered at OrchestraMiami.org.

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