Amazonia Vocal Ensemble - The Choir
The Amazonia Vocal Ensemble (AVE) was founded in 2007 by conductor/composer Dr. Cristian Grases currently conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir at the University of Southern California. AVE made its debut on November 30th of that year at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Miami, Florida.
The ensemble boasts a diverse breadth of repertoire, though it specializes in contemporary Latin American Music as well as original arrangements of Latin American folk/popular songs in English, Spanish, Quechua, Portuguese, Papiamento among others.
Based in Miami, the ensemble is comprised of volunteer amateur singers.
AVE plays a prominent role in bringing the choral music of Latin America to the spotlight in the south Florida community and is part of a growing movement to introduce Latin American Choral Music into the mainstream.
In September 4th, 2011 AVE hosted the “II International Choral Reunion – Un Canto Sin Fronteras 2011” (A song without frontiers) conducted by the internationally renowned conductor and composer Maestro Alberto Grau. Choristers Alberto Grau’s alumni, came from abroad and all over United States to perform that memorable concert. During this choral reunion, which was held from September 2nd to September 4th, AVE also performed a Masterclass by master Alberto Grau to conducting students of University of Miami as one of the main sponsors for this important event.
In June of 2015, Amazonia toured Washington DC and performed at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. In March 2016, kickstarted by a concert directed by renowned choral conductor Maria Guinand, Amazonia partnered with Florida International University’s School of Music, acting as a “Lab Choir” for those students seeking a degree in Choral direction.
In June of 2017, Amazonia traveled to New York City to perform, along other choirs from across the country, Alberto Grau's "La Doncella" at Carnegie Hall, conducted by their founder director Dr. Cristian Grases. Before returning to Florida, Amazonia also performed their full repertoire at Columbia University in a very emotive concert highlighted by the participation of special guest conductors Alberto Grau, Maria Guinand, Cristian Grases, and Maria Adela Alvarado.
Nowadays, AVE is committed to expanding its horizons with the renewal of its repertoire, creating chamber groups, incorporation of new members, and most importantly, making strides towards creating the Amazonia Children’s Choir.
Anaida Carquez Soler - Musical Conductor
Anaida is a Venezuelan Choral Conductor and Vocal Coach with a Master’s Degree in Arts Management from Universidad de Salamanca. She began her musical career as a student of Choral Conducting with María Guinand, leading the “Coro San José de Chacao”, affiliated with the National Academy of Gregorian Chant in Caracas, Venezuela.
As Vocal Coach and Assistant Conductor of the renowned and awarded choirs “Cantoría Alberto Grau” and the “Schola Cantorum de Venezuela”, Anaida was part of multiple and successful concert tours performed in Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America and USA. Also directed the Children’s Choir from “Colegio Emil Friedman”, the Girl’s Choir from “Colegio Mater Salvatoris” and one of the groups of “Pequeños Cantores" of the Program "Construir Cantando” from Schola Cantorum de Venezuela.
Anaida was also a professor at “Música para Crecer Project”, a program that uses music as a tool of social action and integration that promoted by “Corporación Andina de Fomento – Banco de Desarrollo” (CAF –Development Bank of Latin America) in Latin-American countries. She was the Founding Conductor of “Coro Municipal El Hatillo” in Caracas, Venezuela, a mixed ensemble related to “Programa Construir Cantando” a Schola Cantorum Foundation Project that is based on the need to promote music education in Venezuela with special emphasis on communities with limited resources.
Since 2011, Anaida has been part of the Board of Directors of the Schola Cantorum Foundation. In 2015 participated as Vocal Coach with the “Schola Juvenil de Venezuela” in the “Europa Cantat XIX Festival”, in Pecs, Hungary, “Choralp Festival” in France and the “50 Festival de Cant Coral” in Barcelona, Spain.
Anaida joined Amazonia Vocal Ensemble in 2016 as the choir's Musical Conductor.
Cristian Grases - Founding Artistic Director
Dr. Cristian Grases joined the USC Thornton Faculty in the Fall 2010 semester as Assistant Professor of Choral Music and Conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir. Born in Venezuela, he earned degrees from the Simón Bolivar University (MM) where his principal teachers were María Guinand and Alberto Grau and the University of Miami (DMA). In 2004, Dr. Grases was selected by the International Federation for Choral Music as one of a five-member committee for the Songbridge Project, together with renowned choral masters and chaired by the creator of the project, Erkki Pohjola (Finland). He was selected to be part of the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music in 2008. In addition, Grases is currently chair of the Ethnic and Multicultural Repertoire and Standards Committee for the Western Division of the American Choral Directors Association.
During his time in Florida, Dr. Grases was the founder and artistic director of Amazonia Vocal Ensemble, based in Miami, with a focus on Latin American repertoire. He also served as conductor for the Women’s Chamber Ensemble of the University of Miami, was the assistant conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Eduardo Marturet, and the conductor of the Young Musician’s Orchestra.
Maria Alejandra Avilán (F)
Mackie Hartwell (AC)
Yasmira Martinez (AC)
Maria Alejandra Prado (F)
Fabiola Martinez (I)
Maria Cecilia Verdugo
Luciano Ferraro (F)
Juan Francisco Benatuil (I)
Ramón Riobueno (I)
Carlos Ruiz (F)
George Habib (F)
Hector Paradisi (I)
(F) Founder, (I) Instrumentalist, (AC) Assistant Conductor
Children Choir - Singing World: Plural World
The main objective of our new project is to develop the integral formation of children and adolescents, using appropriately their free time by promoting civic values, strengthening mechanisms of social integration and enhancing the intellectual, emotional and artistic skills through the teaching and practice of choral singing.
So, let’s bring choral music to the children of South Florida. Amazonia uses music as an instrument for social transformation, empowering children to acquire values, develop their abilities and achieve their full potential, through discipline, team work and respect, positively affecting their environment and society. Researches have found that music education is a powerful tool to develop learning skills and social abilities in the kids involved with.
We would like to continue and expand our cooperation with local churches, schools, and civic centers—especially in minorities and impoverished districts—creating youth and children choirs in local communities. Amazonia is uniquely qualified and positioned to help drive this choral movement as it has been an active multilingual choral organization since 2007, embracing and representing the diverse cultures through our music programming in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole.
Inspired by “El Sistema” founded in 1975 by Jose Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan orchestra conductor, Amazonia hopes to offer a program of choral music education for the youth, aiming that it evolves into a model for social change through music.
Key Project Activities
To create Children's Choirs in vulnerable communities, lacking of alternative educational, cultural and recreational programs.
To develop an annual program of choral activities and concerts to promote the integration of children, developing their skills, abilities and potential in terms of intellectual, social, emotional and artistic strengths and thus reinforce cultural ties with the United States and with their own roots, through a musical repertoire that respects and promotes cultural diversity of the Choir members.
Your support makes it possible for us to bring our world-class choir experience to musically talented children regardless of their ability to pay.
Amazonia Music Corp. - The Non Profit Organization
Amazonia Vocal Ensemble, part of Amazonia Music Corp. (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization), is one of the first vocal performing arts ensembles in the country dedicated primarily to the performance and preservation of Latin American choral music, though the ensemble boasts a diverse breadth of repertoire.
Amazonia is comprised of volunteer musicians, both professional and amateur. AVE plays a prominent role in bringing the choral music of Latin America to the spotlight in the South Florida community and is part of a growing movement to introduce Latin American choral music to into the mainstream.
“Amazonia Music, Corp. has been organized to educate and promote music, traditions and culture from Latin America and the Caribbean through musical ensembles and performance, in order to preserve the cultural heritage of the region.”
Board of Directors
You may reach the Board of Directors at: firstname.lastname@example.org