Winter Wonderful: A Magical Event That Inspires Changing Kids … – University of Miami: News@theU

By Maritza Cosano
Hosted at the JW Marriott Marquis on December 4, the Winter Wonderful annual gala benefited the Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program. This program enriches the education of underserved youth through unique and innovative music education programming while providing opportunities for Frost School of Music students to develop their teaching and community engagement skills. MusicReach takes place at the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus and various public schools and youth centers throughout Miami-Dade County, encouraging students to stay in school and pursue a college degree.
The night had many endearing highlights, and to help start the show, Frost School of Music’s Dean Shelton G. Berg opened the celebration with a toast. He said, “Winter Wonderful is a magical event for all who attend, but the real magic is the life-changing experiences this gala empowers for 1,500 underserved but deserving youth in South Florida.” 
Dean Berg presented the 2022 Frost Legacy Award to Robert and Judi Prokop Newman in honor of their unwavering support of higher music education and generosity to the University. Their most recent contribution to enhancing the Frost campus is the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Plaza at the Knight Center for Music Innovation. It will be a perfect outdoor space to welcome the community and create new cultural experiences. 
“We believe a broader education is necessary for today’s economy since every musician is now his or her business manager,” said Robert. “They should follow their dreams, [and now at Frost, they can better succeed because they] have enough tools from their education to branch out in other forms of music, be it marketing, teaching, digital, composing, or performing.” 
The gala included a cocktail reception, a delicious holiday dinner, and truly wonderful performances by the talented students at Frost. “Winter Wonderful is a great highlight of every season for Frost Choral Studies and an exciting event for all,” said conductor Amanda Quist, associate professor and Program Director of Choral Studies at Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. 
Quist conducted the Frost Chorale, all the singers from Symphonic Choir and Bella Voce, and the Winter Wonderful Orchestra. More than 160 students performed at the gala, and among their favorite songs was “O Holy Night,” performed by the Frost Chorale with Frost alum Gary Fry, who arranged the piece.    
Amongst the guests, there were several familiar faces and companies, including Lynda Gordon, of the Gordon Alliance; Allan Herbert; the Miller Family, including Jeffrey Miller, Stuart Miller, and Leslie Miller Saiontz; Robert and Judi Prokop Newman, The Sherman Foundation; Frank Longo of Skanska USA; former Governor of Florida, John E. Bush, and Columba Bush; Ambassadors Charles and Sue Cobb; Jon and Karen Fryd; Cesar and Cristina Alvarez of Greenberg Traurig; Barbara Havenick; Tracey Berkowitz; Dorothy and Henry Norton; Lee Osiason and Iris Alvarez; Dr. Pabalan and Dr. Grace Wang; Hazel Rosen; Nancy and Jon Batchelor; The Goldsmith Family Foundation; Remi and Oti Roberts; Dr. Donna E. Shalala; The Tonkinson Foundation, and Jacqueline Simkin.
Other notables in attendance included: President Julio Frenk and Dr. Felicia Knaul, Dean Eckman, Dean Ford, Patricia Whitely, Yolanda Berkowitz, Radmila Lolly, John Utendahl, David Weaver, Alan Benaroya, Gerard and Jody Schwarz. 
“Having the opportunity to spend time with our students and feature them as singers and players in front of so many people who are part of the Frost community was a real treasure,” concluded Quist.  
Dean Berg invites those in the beloved Frost School of Music community to impact the lives of hundreds of kids in South Florida through the gift of the transformative power of music education. For more information about next year’s Winter Wonderful gala, please visit Be sure to check often, as a date will be announced in the New Year.  
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