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  • Elaine Rinaldi

Do Animals like Music?

On Feb 25th, Orchestra Miami will present a very special “Discover Miami Through Music” concert at Zoo Miami. Our Discover concerts have brought the orchestra to many beautiful and interesting places around Dade County, but you might be thinking, why the zoo??

Well, first of all, what place is more fun than the zoo? Zoo Miami is one of the top-rated zoological parks in the US and we should all be proud of the outstanding conservation work that is being done there.

Secondly, Zoo Miami is where my career as a professional musician began. How is that possible, you ask? Well in 1984, I was one of two high school students (the other was Kimmie Wing) chosen to make their professional debut with the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber Symphony (the direct predecessor to the former Florida Philharmonic Orchestra) at what was then the brand-new Miami MetroZoo, performing Carnival of the Animals.

Elaine Rinaldi & Shelkim Wiing at Miami MetroZoo in 1984
Me (age 16) with Kimmie Wing

The zoo had just relocated from its original home at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne in 1980, and it seemed that it was just vast swatches of wide-open fields with a few animal habitats scattered in between (or that’s how I remembered it!). There was no monorail, no amphitheatre, just 38 beautiful exhibits featuring Asian animals with lots of room to grow.

Two pianists performing with orchestra under a striped tent, with a person miming as a lion
Under the Big Top

We performed under a “big top” tent set up in one of those fields, and the audience had to bring blankets to sit in the grass.

Mom & Mrs. Wing sitting in the grass

The narrator for this event was none other than the legendary Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ruth Shack. Many years later, Ruth became the president of the Miami Foundation (Orchestra Miami’s fiscal sponsor until we received our 501c3 non-profit status from the IRS) and It was my great honor to give to her a program from that concert from March 3, 1984.

portrait of Ruth Shack
The legendary Ruth Shack

For Orchestra Miami’s performance on Feb 25th, it is our great honor to have another woman whom I greatly admire and respect, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, narrate the 11 AM performance.

And for the 1 PM show, the narrator will be one of Miami’s most recognizable figures, Conservationist Ron Magill!

As for the piano soloists, I wanted to give an opportunity to two young pianists, just as I once had that opportunity. I am thrilled that Elisabeth Thomashoff and Aneliya Novikova, both students of Roberta Rust at the prestigious Lynn Conservatory of Music, will make their debuts with Orchestra Miami.

Elisabeth Thomashoff

Aneliya Novikova
Aneliya Novikova

So, it comes full circle. I’ve been wanting to present this program for a long time and the stars finally aligned 39 years later… I’m sad my mom won’t be there- she would have been so proud!

Me & Mom after the performance

Me & my Dad after the show

Orchestra Miami performs "Carnival of the Animals" as a part of its Discover Miami Through Music series at Zoo Miami. Free with paid Zoo admission!

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