Thursday, December 26, 2013

Open House and Orientation for spring classes

Ever thought about performing?

No matter your age or experience level, if you've ever thought about performing on stage, you're invited to attend our upcoming open house!

Come learn more about our classes in dancetheater and music at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa.

The Conservatory’s spring session begins on Jan. 13, 2013, with classes for adults and children of all ages and skill levels. Learn more about our adult acting and dance classes, group guitar and jazz classes , private lessonship hop dance, children's and teen choirs and much more! Most classes include performance opportunities in the spring.

The open houses will include light refreshments, tours of the Conservatory and orientation sessions which provide students and parents the opportunity to meet the staff, learn more about our programs and ask questions.

For your convenience, there are two open house dates from which to choose:

Tues., Jan. 7, 2013
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Orientation at 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 11, 2013
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Orientation at 10 a.m. and noon

Tours will be available before and after each orientation session.

To RSVP for the open house, please click here.

Also on Tues., Jan. 7, the Conservatory’s music department will have auditions for their vocal arts, jazz and chamber music programs; and the theater department will have auditions for Oklahoma! RSVP is required.

For more information, or to RSVP for auditions, please call 813.222.1002 or email

NGB dancers shine in Up Close and Personal

Come see tomorrow’s dance stars perform their Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition pieces in a preview showing this Friday that will be Up Close and Personal!

Courtney Gunsteens and Tanner Bleck.
YAGP is the world’s largest student ballet competition. It provides students with the opportunity to receive scholarships to some of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools. Former NGB students are currently training at the Royal Ballet School in London, the Stuttgart Ballet School and others, through scholarships won at YAGP.

The Tampa semi-finals will be Jan. 2 - 5, 2014 at the Straz Center.

NGB, a pre-professional company, is home to some of the best dancers in the country, many of whom have moved from around the nation to Tampa Bay to train at the Patel Conservatory as a launching pad for their ballet careers.

More than thirty of our NGB dancers will compete in the YAGP 2014 Tampa semi-finals. They’ll perform classical and contemporary solos, as well as a pas de deux and an ensemble piece.

Don't miss the chance to see this young talent at the cusp of their careers and learn a bit of their back story as NGB Artistic Director Peter Stark introduces them to the audience.

Up Close and Personal
A Showcase of Tampa’s Top Dance Talent
TECO Theater, Straz Center

Friday, Dec 27 5:30 to 7:30 (Late seating available at 6:30)
$8 at the door only – box office to open at 4:30

For more information, contact the dance department at

NGB dancers compete in YAGP 2014 Tampa semi-finals

Congratulations and good luck to our Next Generation Ballet (NGB) dancers who will compete next week in the Tampa semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest student ballet competition.

Students who qualify at regional semi-finals will go on to the prestigious final YAGP competition in New York City in April, 2014.

The following NGB dancers will compete:

Alexandria Marx
Brittany Broussard
Carolynn Rowland
Chandler Hammond
Christopher Kunzelmann
Claire Ashcraft
Corbin Panturad
Courtney Gunsteens
Ethan Fuller
Florrie Geller
Hannah Stanford
Jaison McClendon
Janaya Zimmerman
Jarod Curley
John Hewitt
Jordan Martinez
Julia Meister
Katherine Hodges
Kennedy Falyn Cassada
Kyra McDonald
Levi Durie
Lexa Armstrong
Liam Boswell
Lyric Mendez
Neal Burks
Olivia Gusti
Olivia Cassady
Tanner Bleck
Taylor Barrett
Tessa Hartmann
Treyden Chiaravalloti

Ensemble piece also includes:

Alex Schmidt
Audrey Shaw
Autumn Kilby
Christine Schmidt
Emily Schmitt
Hailey Cherry
Katarina Smith
Kenzie Martin
Leo McGrath
Nicole Langway
Nigel Tau
Tracey Payne

Come see their competition pieces at a preview showing tomorrow night only! Click here for details.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Vocal Arts students spread holiday cheer

Heartfelt thanks to our Vocal Arts students for spreading holiday cheer throughout the community this season.
Vocal Arts student perform before The Nutcracker

Students in our junior and senior choirs provided carols in the Silbiger lobby at the Straz Center prior to each performance of Next Generation’s Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

They also provided caroling for the Egypt Shriners Children’s Christmas party, the Tampa Rotary Club’s holiday breakfast and Pilot Bank’s holiday party.

These are recent examples of the many performance opportunities our students enjoy through their study here.

Auditions are coming up for our spring Vocal Arts classes. For more information about our spring classes, please click here, or call 813.222.1002.

Season’s Greetings from our Patel Conservatory family to yours!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free Rock School workshop in January

Rock School is gearing up for spring!

The Patel Conservatory’s Rock School program will host a free workshop in January.

In Rock School, students are put into bands based on instrument, musical tastes and age, then work with instructors who show them how to really rock out!

Students who participate in our workshop will get the opportunity to work with professional musicians, Dean Tidey and Paul Stoddart, and vocal coach Deborah Lynch.

Tidey, who has a publishing deal with George Martin Music, writes, produces and plays guitar for the Muddy Apes. Previously, Tidey played guitar for ten years with the acclaimed English rock band, Feeder.

Stoddart has taught guitar and music theory/arrangement/songwriting for more than two decades. He has played in, written for and arranged music for several bands around the country and plays tours throughout the Tampa Bay area with his four piece ensemble.

Lynch served as a music director, accompanist, vocal coach and performer in Richmond, Va. before moving to Tampa and joining the Patel Conservatory as the staff accompanist. Among many other things, she has taught high school chorus, was a soloist for The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in their masterworks concerts with the Richmond Symphony, and has assisted with District Chorus festivals.

The free workshop will be Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. To RSVP, please call 813.222.1002.

Following the workshop, students will be able to audition for the spring Rock School program. Auditions allow instructors to place students in bands appropriate for their age and skill levels.

Rock School audition dates are:

Sat., Jan. 4, from noon-1 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 6, from 5-7 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

There is a $15 audition fee. Instruments and cords are required. A drum set, amps and keyboards will be provided. Vocalists can now audition without an instrument. 

Returning Rock School students do not need to audition but there is a $10 returning student fee. If you were in the spring or summer Rock School session, please fill out the Returning Student Form.

For more information or to RSVP for an audition, please e-mail, or call 813.222.1002.

Conservatory student in A Thousand Clowns

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory theater student Hannah Anton, who landed a role in the Hat Trick Theatre production of A Thousand Clowns.

Hannah Anton, left, with co-star
Ned Averill-Snell
Anton, 13, started at the Conservatory as a violin student and has been studying theater for the past four years.

“It’s a really good learning environment,” said Anton. “The staff and teachers, they want you to succeed. They want to help you get to where you want to be."

Anton had roles in the Conservatory productions of Alice in Wonderland, Jr., Once Upon a Mattress, The Music Man, Jr. and, most recently as Eidophea, the goddess of the sea, in The Odyssey.

The director of A Thousand Clowns noticed Anton’s performance in The Odyssey and invited her to audition.

The Hat Trick production is her first professional role, but Anton feels her experience at the Conservatory prepared her.

“It helped me know how the theater world works, the etiquette, how rehearsals go, and, how to act,” she said.

“I love the rehearsal process, working with other actors, and trying to discover another character. And when you’re on stage, there’s just this kind of rush.”

In A Thousand Clowns, Anton plays Nicki, a girl who lives with her Uncle Murray in New York City.

“Murray’s a different kind of person. He’s not a 9 to 5 job kind of person,” she said.

When a social worker comes knocking, Murray must learn how to conform to society in order to permanently adopt Nicki.
A Thousand Clowns runs through this weekend at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Auditions for spring music programs

by Paige Strott, Marketing Assistant

This spring the Patel Conservatory is offering a wide variety of music ensembles, and soon we'll be auditioning students for the opportunity to be part of them.

The Vocal Arts Junior and Senior Ensembles will be having auditions on Mon., Jan. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. and Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

Vocal Arts will be performing music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Michael Jackson for their spring concerts, so you do not want to miss out on the chance to audition!

For the audition, students should prepare a short song or excerpt about 16 measures or 30 seconds to sing, preferably with sheet music. An accompanist will be provided. To schedule your audition, email Kavan Gillespie at

The Chamber Music Ensemble audition will be on Tues., Jan. 7, from 5-7 p.m.

Students in 7th grade through college are placed into chamber ensembles based on their ability levels. They’ll study chamber music of various composers, periods and styles and learn repertoire appropriate for their ability level. For an audition appointment, email

Auditions for the jazz ensemble will be held Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

In this class, students receive instruction in improvisation, ensemble playing and elements of music needed for performing jazz. For an audition appointment, email

Rock School auditions will be Jan. 4, 6 and 7. For more information, click here.

All auditions require a $15 audition fee.

For more information about our spring music programs, please call 813.222.1002 or visit

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Conservatory student pays it forward

A sincere thank you goes out to the Greenway family for their recent contribution to our Wish Tree!

When Julie Greenway saw the Patel Conservatory’s Wish Tree in our TECO Lobby, she asked her daughter Amanda to pick an ornament to donate.

Amanda could have chosen anything from whiteboard markers to an iTunes gift card, but she picked one of the biggest items on the tree, a large star marked with a $250 scholarship.

“I wanted to give the most that I could,” said Amanda, who has taken classes in the Conservatory’s ballet program and now takes piano lessons with Jill Sentif.

“It’s good to give back,” she said.

Amanda said she appreciates the Conservatory’s facilities and instructors and wanted to help others enjoy the same opportunities she’s had.

Thanks, Amanda!

All donations for our Scholarship Stars directly supports students in our classrooms. The Conservatory awards more than $200,000 a year in scholarships and financial aid thanks to the generous support of individuals, foundations and businesses.

Be sure to visit our Wish Tree in TECO Lobby and see how you can give back to the Conservatory this holiday season!

Spotlight on Davin Norman

When Davin Norman started in the Rock School program at the Patel Conservatory, he never would have imagined himself playing jazz music.
Davin Norman, front, performs with the Patel
Conservatory's jazz quartet.

“I was a metal head,” said Davin, who now plays bass guitar with the Conservatory’s jazz quartet.

Davin will perform with the quartet in the Conservatory’s Jazz Jamm concert this Friday.

Prior to joining Rock School four years ago, Davin had taken guitar lessons at Paragon Music for a couple of years.

“When my dad mentioned Rock School, I got really excited,” said Davin. He connected with fellow bandmate Parker Wilkson.

“Parker introduced me to jazz, and my appreciation for jazz music rose immensely,” said Davin.

Davin joined Parker in our now popular jazz quartet. The talented ensemble quickly gained popularity and has been asked to perform around town numerous times, including at the Straz Center’s recent Broadway Ball.

“It’s a lot of fun. I get to improvise and trade off solos,” he said. “It’s actually harder than rock. It involves a lot of skill.”

In addition to playing with the jazz quartet, he continues to play with his Rock School band, Nfin8. The band performed at the Gasparilla Music Festival earlier this year and other venues.

Davin is now a freshman at the University of Tampa majoring in information systems, with a minor in music.

He says being in the Conservatory’s rock and jazz programs has helped him improve his music skills. He enjoys working with jazz instructor Matt Weihmuller.

“It’s fun working with Matt. He’s a genius with music and amazing at what he does,” said Davin.

“If anyone wants to learn more about rock or jazz music, they should try a class at the Conservatory. It’s taught me a lot. It’s just been a fun ride.”

The Conservatory will have music placement auditions for spring classes in vocal arts, rock, jazz and chamber music. For more information, click here or call 813-222-1002.

Check out all of our jazz students in the Jazz Jamm concert Fri., Dec. 6, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. in TECO Theater. For tickets, click here.