NSAL Florida East Coast Chapter is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Collaborative Piano and Brass Duo Competiton.


NSAL Florida East Coast Chapter Hosts Nation’s First

Collaborative Piano and Brass Duo Competition


The National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) Florida East Coast Chapter recently held the nation’s first Collaborative Piano and Brass Duo Competition. The event, held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, is the only competition in the United States which recognizes and awards the duo as two parts of equal importance, akin to figure skating pairs. The competition was generously sponsored by Donald Mandich, and the winning duo was Sodienye Finebone on tuba and Kristi Mezinez on piano.

“We are thrilled to be the first competition of this kind,” said Judi Asselta, NSAL Florida East Coast Chapter president. “And to provide these outstanding musicians with monetary awards to support their educational pursuits.”

The duos each presented two works; a large-scale important sonata and a short character piece which represented their artistry. The panel scored competitors based on professional collaborative skills, in addition to individual technical and musical artistry.

The first-place prize winners, Sodieneye Finebone and Kristi Mezinez, each received $2,000. Second-place winners, Carlos Diaz on trumpet and Guzal Isametdinova on piano, each received $1000. And third-place winners, Daniel Meier on trumpet and Mara Valmonte on piano, each received $500.

“We are delighted for this opportunity to celebrate brass and piano music which is being championed by many modern and contemporary American composers,” said Lisa Leonard, co-chair of the event with Marc Reese. “This event was a rare opportunity for these students to participate in this inaugural event and to gain insights from some of the nation’s leading musicians.”

Competitors were judged by an esteemed panel including Timothy Connor, Jodie DeSalvo and Jeffrey Kaye. Timothy Connor has been an Associate Professor of Practice and Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami since 1995 and is a full-time teacher at the Frost School of Music.

Mr. Connor has shared the stage with numerous luminaries including Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald and Bernadette Peters. Jodie DeSalvo captured national and international attention with her classical interpretations of the masters of keyboard literature. Upon winning the Artists International Competition in 1988, she made her critically acclaimed debut at Carnegie Hall, followed by an encore performance two years later at Lincoln Center. Jeffrey Kaye is an internationally acclaimed orchestral and chamber musicians, soloist, education and arts leader. For 14 seasons he was the Principal Trumpet for the Florida Philharmonic, and has also served in that position with the Florida Grand Opera, the Florida Philharmonic Pops Orchestra and the Miami Chamber Orchestra.