Paul Perry got early musical start in Miami |

Paul Perry got early musical start in Miami

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two parts in which Paul Perry, founder and artistic director of Music in the Mountains, relates his story. Look for the second installment in Friday’s edition The Union.

How lucky I was as a boy of 5 to get to the piano studio of the late Jean Gaventa.

She was an early inspiration and master teacher who gave me so much. Early in my work with her it became obvious that I was her best student, and she worked to promote me in the young musical scene in the Miami area: Student concerts; live performances on area radio stations, etc.

When I entered junior high school, the bandmaster at Edison Jr. High asked me to join the band, because he knew I had been studying piano and was playing at an advanced level.

He wanted me to study bassoon with him (he was in the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale symphony orchestras), and I did, playing first bassoon in the school orchestra and concert band. In ninth grade, I was selected to be first bassoon in the area youth orchestra, consisting of students from many area schools.

I also began study on pipe organ with Maeva Hamilton Hicks, church organist and touring concert artist, becoming proficient within a short time. I was hired as a full-time organist in a Miami church by the time I was a junior in high school.

I was very lucky, as each of my teachers fostered and nurtured my musical training and gave me extra special attention outside of my lessons, making sure I was given opportunities that came along during my high school years.

College training was at Florida State University, Tallahassee, one of the largest schools of music in the United States, in the studio of the eminent composer and pianist Carlisle Floyd, whose operas have been performed throughout the world.

I earned my masters degree at Rollins College, in College Park, Florida, and again I was blessed with two top performers who guided my program, Professors Ross Rosazza and John Carter, both prominent performers in the New York City scene, prior to being appointed to the music department at Rollins.

I continued with study toward the doctor of piano performance at Florida State, again in the studio of Carlisle Floyd. That paved the way for my audition with the San Francisco Opera in 1975 to be on their musical staff as a coach and my move from the East Coast to the West.

During my doctoral studies, I was hired to be staff accompanist for the Blossom Music Festival School of the Cleveland Symphony, which took me to the campus of Kent State University for their summer program.

My work at the opera was rewarding, as I was involved both with the young singers and established stars. I also put together the Brown Bag Opera programs during that time and served as assistant organist at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral and conductor of the Contra Costa Chorale.

I certainly feel privileged to have been so well-prepared for my musical life.


WHAT: Young Composers Concert, part of

Music in the Mountains Summer Fest

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 West Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: Adults $5, Youth free

INFORMATION: Call 265-6124

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