Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Theater chair takes the stage

Photo by Megan Lemasney.
From actor to instructor, Patel Conservatory theater chair Ami Sallee wears several hats in the theater world.
You can check out Sallee on stage this weekend and next weekend as Senator Willa Cross in Oliver Parker!

Written by Elizabeth Meriwether, the play takes place around Christmas-time. It’s a dark comedy about four broken souls who gravitate toward one another in search of solace.
The show is directed by Kerry Glamsch, who recently directed our PCYT production of Our Town, which had a great run!
Dec. 1 through Dec. 11, 2011.
Silver Meteor Gallery, Ybor City

For reservations or more information, call Silver Meteor Gallery at 813-300-3585.
This show contains adult language and adult situations and is intended
for mature audiences.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Make The Nutcracker part of your holiday tradition!

The countdown is on and the holiday rush is upon us.
Checking things off your list? Don’t forget to include tickets to The Nutcracker, The Great Imperial Ballet, and make it a part of your holiday tradition!
Jose Manuel Carreño
This year’s production includes guest appearances from Cuban star Jose Manuel Carreño as the Cavalier, and Boston Ballet soloist Jeffrey Cirio as the Snow King.
An international performer, Carreño has been a principal dancer with the English National Ballet, the Royal Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). He recently retired from the ABT, giving his final performance in NYC at The Metropolitian Opera House in Swan Lake. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to see this dance legend at the Straz Center!
Jeffrey Cirio
Cirio returns for a second year in Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker. He also performed with sister Lia in NGB’s production of Summer Fantasy.
Guest artists performing alongside the award-winning dancers of NGB are sure to bring holiday cheer to you and your family!

The Nutcracker shows Dec. 16 to Dec. 18, 2011 at the Straz Center. Experience the magic!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Music plays an important role in education

Kevin Rioles believes music is an important part of his children’s education.
“I’m an engineer, so, for me, the mathematics of it makes sense,” said Kevin, a parent whose child will be performing in the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO) concert this weekend. “Music is a large part of their education that they don’t get other places.”
Kevin’s daughter Christine has been playing cello with PCYO for three years. She began taking cello lessons six years ago when her family lived in Korea.

"In Korea, all students study some kind of instrument," explained Kevin.

Christine started with piano, and then added cello when a friend was taking lessons. She enjoys being part of an orchestra, where she gets to apply what she learns in private lessons to an ensemble experience.
“It’s fun because you get to meet people and enjoy something that you like doing,” said Christine.
In addition to the concert on Sunday afternoon, she's looking forward to the special opportunity to perform before the Florida Orchestra. PCYO will play before the Florida Orchestra concert at the Straz Center this Friday evening, Dec. 2, 2011.
Sunday’s concert will feature an array of music, from the opening of Symphony No. 104 by Joseph Haydn to Once Upon a December.

In preparation for the concert, Christine says she practices every day before and after school. But when she’s not practicing, she says, “I like to play volleyball at home with my brother and my father.”

Please join us for the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra concert on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.

The concert is a great way to introduce a young audience to the orchestra. It's also an excellent opportunity for interested musicians to experience the PCYO program. Auditions for the spring PCYO season will be Jan. 4 and 5, 2012.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Conservatory student in today's Macy's parade!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our students, parents and friends!
Warm wishes go out to Ashlyn Bolton, who is performing this morning with Camp Broadway in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
She’ll be dancing with the Zhu Zhu Pet float (Zhu-Niverse)! Ashlyn was one of approximately 110 kids chosen to perform out of about 1000 who auditioned, said Kim Bolton, Ashlyn’s mother.
As part of the Patel Conservatory’s triple threat program, Ashlyn is in our ballet, musical theater and the senior vocal arts choir. She also performs with a tap troupe at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Both she and her younger sister Emma will be in The Nutcracker at the Straz Center next month!

With training in dance, theater and voice, Ashlyn is certainly well on her way to Broadway!
This will be Ashlyn’s 4th performance in the Macy's Parade. In addition to performing with the float, she also performed in Herald Square. She learned the song and dance number when she got to New York earlier this week. They had three days to learn and rehearse their number.
“We are very proud of her,” said Kim. “It amazes me how fast they learn it and put it together!”
Congratulations, Ashlyn!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't miss Bruce Marks master class!

The Patel Conservatory in Tampa announces an exceptional training opportunity for serious ballet students.
The Conservatory will offer an advanced ballet master class with dance legend Bruce Marks.

Well known dancer and director, Marks was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet Theatre (ABT). He served as artistic director of Ballet West and Boston Ballet, and was a founding member and chairman of Dance/USA.
“Bruce is an icon in the ballet world. He has a lot to offer our young dancers; this is very exciting,” said Wendy Leigh, vice president of education at the Straz Center. “We are lucky to have such great resources here at the Straz Center for our students and for the community.”
Since 1989, Marks has served as chairman of the International Jury of the USA International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Miss. He’s served as the American judge at the international competitions in Helsinki, Nagoya, Moscow and Seoul and as the American judge at the Prix de Lausanne.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to train with the best in the industry!
Bruce Marks Master Class*
Sat., Dec. 10, 2011
10:30 a.m. to noon.
$5 for current Patel Conservatory students
$10 for non-Patel Conservatory students
Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

To reserve your spot, call 813-222-1002.
*The class is open to students in grades seven through 12 who have a minimum of five years of recent ballet training. Female dancers must have at least two years of training on pointe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet our instructors: Mark Lubas

As Mark Lubas puts it, he “geeks out” over the exciting process of helping a student become a better singer.
“Students come to me because they love to sing and they want to get better at it, but there’s usually something standing in their way,” said Lubas, a voice instructor at the Patel Conservatory. “Whether it’s lack of experience, technique or confidence...I go on their journey with them to discover what are their major issues and work on those...It’s an intensely personal thing which makes it fun and interesting.”
Lubas’ goal as a voice teacher is to help each of his students find his/her own unique technique.
“Every person is different physically, so there’s no one technique that works for all. That’s what geeks me out!” laughed Lubas. His down-to-earth style and passion for his students’ growth is clear.
As an opera singer with two masters degrees in music from the New England Conservatory of Music (in vocal performance and opera), Lubas has performed with companies across the U.S., including Aspen Opera Theatre Company, Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival, Boston Lyric Opera, Mobile Opera, Opera Carolina and Granite State Opera.
In addition to teaching at the Conservatory, he owns a voice and acting studio in Sarasota. He also helped create the college prep theater training program at the Out-of-Door Academy.
He offers these tips for voice students:
Take the time to notice what you’re actually feeling when you sing.
“Don’t focus on what you sound like, or what other people tell you, but what are your physical sensations?” explained Lubas. In doing so, you’ll discover tools you can use to then reproduce a consistent product.
Stop trying to make singing so complicated
“People, for whatever reason, try to change the pitch or tone of their voice,” said Lubas.  He points out that many students often try to sound like their favorite artist instead of cultivating their own natural ability. “What ends up happening is that they end up making it much more difficult than it needs to be.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Theater guest blog: Our Town this weekend!

Theater guest blog by Braxton Perry, cast member for Our Town

Whoosh… and almost another month has passed on by. They say all good things must come to an end… but I think it’s just mainly everything has to come to an end.
But we’re not yet at this story’s end. Today is the opening day of Patel Conservatory Youth Theater’s production of the play, Our Town.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been doing lots of refining, refining and more refining. I think I almost have the whole play memorized with the way I quote it 1,000 times a day. At the beginning of this week, we started dress rehearsals. They went great – well, of course, unless you include that bit with me and a fake mustache… let’s just say I’m glad I no longer have to battle it (I really dislike when inanimate objects win).
So now to the meat of the issue: Here you are, reading my blogs week by... er... post (I’m not that consistent) and you haven’t bought tickets yet!!! It’s not like we need you to buy tickets, because the ticket sales are going fast, but… I thought… since we’d been friends for so long… that you’d… So here’s the deal: BUY TICKETS!!! 
I wanted to thank you for following me along on my brief journey. It won’t be the last. I feel like we’re friends that have shared an adventure. And of course everyone knows friends go to see other friend’s performances.
Really though, thanks a bunch.
Break a leg!
- Braxton
[My] Teachers of the Week:
Gosh… so many people. Tall Paul, Kerry Glamsch, all my dance teachers and so many others. Almost everyone here at the Patel Conservatory should be included. Thanks to everyone who made and continues to make my time here awesome.
Things I like:
Learning new things each day
Pas de chat (I can’t do it, but it looks really nice)
Liquid to powder foundation (yep, I officially bought my first makeup)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Don't miss PCYT's production of Our Town

You’ve read the guest blogs, and watched the guest vlogs on Facebook, now it’s finally here!
This weekend only, don’t miss the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater’s production of Our Town! This Pulitzer Prize-winning work by Thornton Wilder gets at the heart of what makes us human: the eternal search for love, purpose and fulfillment.
Cast members Lizzie Kehoe, Ian Burns and Braxton Perry have been featured on our blog. Now is your chance to see them in action. Join them on their journey through life in a small town.
Other cast include Savannah Moore, Curtis Brand, Andie Renee, Arielle Thode, Alexa Thode, Cole Shaler, Skylar Benn, Jess Riddle, Taylor Korin, Ashton Hatter, Marianna Rocha, Matthew Belopavlovich, Audrey Siegler and Susan Downey.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. For tickets, click here.

Enter to win our a gift tree filled with over $1,000 in prizes!

Help the Patel Conservatory Booster Club reach for the stars!

The Booster Club has put together a holiday drawing that will support our classes and programs. Enter to win a holiday tree filled with gift cards for you to keep or give away as Christmas gifts.* That's right, if you are the lucky winner, you'll get the whole tree worth more than $1,100 in prizes!

Prizes include a 2 night vacation, gift cards for Carrabba's, Shula's Steakhouse, Mary Kay, private ballroom dance lessons and MORE!

Tickets may be purchased for $5, or three tickets for $10.

The winner will be announced in December.

All proceeds go directly to our classes and outreach programs.

Check out the gift tree in the TECO lobby, and get your raffle tickets from the Patel Conservatory library!

For questions, please email Kim at

*Tickets for our drawing are considered a donation to the Patel Conservatory. No purchase necessary to win.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet our instructors: Scott Crowley

What does tennis have to do with playing the cello? Ask Scott Crowley, cello instructor at the Patel Conservatory.
In his teaching and playing, Crowley draws inspiration from the book The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey.
“I’m always on a quest to explore cello technique and how to let go,” said Crowley, who has a masters in music performance from the University of South Florida.
Gallwey’s book explores the mental aspects of achieving peak performance in his sport. Similarly, Crowley examines both the physical and psychological aspects of how to play cello.
“It’s just not about studying an instrument,” said Crowley, “It’s all about trusting yourself and letting go.”
As an instructor and a performer, he explores the art of being “centered, focused and observant” in order to commit completely to the moment and play as naturally as possible.
“Every performance is completely new and original,” he says. “There are definite correlations between having faith in yourself and in performance.”
In addition to teaching private lessons, Crowley is a freelance solo cellist who plays an array of musical styles from Christian to classical. He’s performed with the Southwest Florida Symphony, Northwest Florida Symphony, Sinfonia Gulf Coast and The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as with artists and groups that include Blood, Sweat and Tears, Johnny Mathis, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Frank Sinatra Jr. and many more.
Crowley enjoys writing about his philosophies on his blog and eventually plans to write his own Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on cello technique.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More pictures from Broadway Ball

Many of our Patel Conservatory students participated in the flash mob at last month’s Broadway Ball at the Straz Center. Dressed as characters from The Addams Family, students mingled with guests until it was time to break into random dancing to the Addams Family theme song.
Here’s a couple more pictures from the event...

Tap III students (left to right) Mary Jo Heiger, Pat Adams and
Valerie Hirvela looking somber for their roles.
Tap student Carol Cohen (right) as Uncle Fester with
theater instructor Audrey Siegler as Grandma

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rock School band makes it to Battle of the Bands

Rock School student Lars Tatum has gone from virtual rock star to concert guitarist and vocalist.
Tatum and his Rock School band Interlude recently got the chance to compete at the Hillsborough County Battle of the Bands at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover.
It all started nearly three years ago with Guitar Hero. When Tatum got a taste of playing in a band through the video game, he was hooked.
“Once I mastered Guitar Hero, I thought I’d step it up a notch and start playing a real guitar,” said Tatum, 12, of W. Tampa.
He began with private guitar lessons and joined the Patel Conservatory’s Rock School when a friend recommended the program.
“When I came to Rock School, I had never played with more than one other person,” said Tatum. “I liked the energy it created, making it all come together.”
When Tatum wanted his group to perform a Led Zepplin song, instructor Lee Ahlin urged Tatum to be the one to sing it.
“I never had an interest in singing, but Lee got my vocals working,” said Tatum, now the lead singer of his band. “I’m liking it more and more.”
Interlude came together through this summer's Rock School session and the group seemed to gel. “We all work together pretty well,” said Tatum.
When the group performed at our Rock School Blowout in August, an audience member approached them and urged them to try out for Battle of the Bands. Despite the fact that the competition is geared towards high school students, to their surprise, Interlude was accepted.
“Being able to get into that competition was a huge deal,” said Tatum’s mom, Desiree. 
For the competition, the group had to do a 45-minute set, which gave them just a couple of months to come up with a full repertoire.
“Lee helped us. We learned nine songs,” said Tatum. “We were able to bang them out in a relatively short amount of time. I was amazed.”
Now all this group wants to do is get out and play. “When it was all over, I was ready for more.”
They played at a Halloween party last weekend, and can’t wait for the upcoming Rock School Blowout.

“I like playing in front of a bunch of people,” said Tatum, who also said he never gets nervous when performing. “When it comes to being on stage, you’re not four different people, you’re one band.”
Check out this up-and-coming group of talented young musicians at Rock School Blowout this Sat., Nov. 12, 2011 at 1 p.m.
Join us for this fun and free event outside the Straz Center on the Riverwalk. Spend an afternoon enjoying great weather overlooking the river while you jam to some old and new rock favorites.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

PCYO auditions set for January

Looking for music lessons in Tampa?

The Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO) will hold placement auditions for its spring 2012 season.
Our youth orchestra features the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra, Intermezzo Orchestra, Prelude Strings and an extensive Chamber Music program.

“We’re convinced that having music as part of [our kids'] every day life helps them in other areas in terms of education, art and culture and athletic activities,” said Alejandro Rojas, PCYO parent.
Through PCYO, students learn to apply skills from private lessons or school music programs as they gain orchestral ensemble experience. PCYO has performed twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at other prestigious institutions such as the New World Symphony in Miami.

Auditions will be heard by Gregory Ruffer, Music Chair of the Patel Conservatory. String, wind and percussion students will receive feedback on their performances from music faculty and placed in the ensemble that best suits their skill level.
Auditions will be held the following dates:
Tues., Jan. 4, 2012
5-8 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 5, 2012
5-8 p.m.

For more information about each level and its requirements, click
For questions or to make an audition appointment, please e-mail or call 813.222.1273.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rock School auditions for spring '12

Imagine your name announced over the mic as you run on stage in front of a crowd of screaming fans!

This can happen for you in the near future... all you have to do is sign up for Rock School and in just a few months you’ll be performing live in concert with your new band!
If you've ever thought about playing drums, guitar, bass guitar or keyboards in a rock band, you're invited to our upcoming placement auditions for Rock School and Rock School Jr.!
Auditions are informal, and allow instructors to place students in a band according to their playing level. Rock school is for adults and kids (grades 2 and up) of all levels, from beginners to advanced!
Auditions for Spring, 2012 will be:
Tues., Jan. 3, 6-8 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 7, 12-3 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
For more information, or to schedule an audition, contact Dee Lynch at, or call 813-222-6411.

Booster Club meeting Nov. 10

Please join us Thurs., Nov. 10 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for the first meeting of the 2011/12 Patel Conservatory Booster Club.
The meeting is an informal way to get to know other parents/volunteers, and is open to anyone interested in helping us promote our classes and programs.
We’ll discuss preliminary ideas for the annual fundraiser of the Patel Conservatory (the Spotlight Awards) set for May, 2012. We’d also love to hear your opinions and ideas.
Whether you take classes, or have a child in dance, music or theater classes, please come find out more about our Booster Club!
To be sure we have enough space, please take a second to RSVP on our Facebook page, or call 222-6419.
See you then!

Spotlight on Stella Zambalis

Today’s spotlight is on Patel Conservatory voice instructor Stella Zambalis.
Zambalis, a professional opera singer with more than 30 years of experience, recently performed in A Celebration of Carlisle Floyd at Florida State University.
As an alumni of FSU and having worked with Floyd from time to time throughout her career, Zambalis was invited to perform at the concert held last month in honor of this American composer.
Opera composer Carlisle Floyd with his former students at the FSU concert in his honor.
From left: Craig Bohmler, Floyd, Stella Zambalis, and Maestro Michael Ching.
“Carlisle Floyd is the most famous contemporary opera composer of our time still living,” explained Zambalis. “He’s an amazing man, even at 85! He’s very humble...and energy beyond belief.”

Floyd taught a workshop here at the Patel Conservatory this past summer as part of Opera Tampa’s V.O.I.C.Experience.

Zambalis has been teaching voice at the Patel Conservatory for nearly two years. She grew up in Clearwater, and moved back two years ago from New York to care for her mother after being away from the area for more than 30 years. She’s performed with opera companies and on concert stages worldwide, and is the artistic director for the Bel Canto Recital Series. She is a regular guest for leading opera companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera and the Houston Grand Opera.
As a classical voice instructor, Zambalis specializes in actual technique. “Many voice teachers are not necessarily technicians,” she said. “They can recognize what’s wrong, but can’t describe in detail or explain with specificity how to do it correctly.”
She points out that even Pavarotti had his vocal coach until the day he died. “We can’t teach ourselves, we can’t possibly hear how we sound to others,” she said. “We all need ears.”
Many of Zambalis’ students come from throughout Florida, and even from New York and Tennessee for her specialized training.
“I feel proud that people feel I’m the one equipped to help them with their career journeys,” said Zambalis.
Zambalis feels that the two most important things for an opera singer are an ongoing voice teacher, and ongoing vocal coach. A voice teacher works on vocal technique, the vocal mechanism itself, while a coach works on style and knows the various musical nuances of different operatic periods, she said.
At the recent concert at FSU, Zambalis performed a scene from the end of Act II of Floyd’s most recently written opera, Cold Sassy Tree.
“The scene was so gripping and poignant. It was very powerful and emotionally moving,” she said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
After the concert, Floyd himself complimented Zambalis’ singing and portrayal.
“He hadn’t heard me sing in many years...He said it was exactly the way he envisioned the scene,” said Zambalis. “That meant everything in the world to me.”