South Florida Classical Review »» Carson Kievman, innovative composer and educator, has passed away


Carson Kievman founded and directed the SoBe Arts Institute in Miami Beach.

Carson Kievman has died at the age of 72. The Miami-based composer-educator-producer, who had moved to Sarasota after decades in Miami Beach, suffered a stroke in April 2020. Although the surgery was successful, two cancers and a whole body neuropathic condition were discovered later.

Long active on the South Florida music scene, Los Angeles-born Kievman was resident composer for the Florida Philharmonic in the late 1980s. He wrote his Second Symphony for this ensemble, which was performed by several American orchestras and recorded.

After doctoral studies at Princeton University, Kievman returned to South Florida and established the SoBe Arts Institute, a music and arts school that provided financial aid and education to gifted middle and high school students. . Many former members of the New World Symphony and independent musicians and singers from the region have formed its faculty.

The school also formed the headquarters of SoBe Arts, Kievman’s production company, which staged his ambitious musical theater works.

While a concert version of Shakespeare’s staging in the 1970s by Kievman Hamlet turned out to be uneven and stylistically somewhat dated, the premiere of his seventy-minute musical drama Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman was a revolutionary tour de force. Portrait of a mental illness that has crossed atonality, electronic music, operetta and Schoenbergian sprechstimme, the work has had a devastating impact.

by Kievman Intelligent Systems – Self-surrender in Mystical Contemplation produced in 2015, was a visionary show that combined film, dance, high-tech multi-medical simulations and musical theater to tell the story of nothing less than the birth, destruction and rebirth of planet Earth.

When the expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center resulted in the demolition of the SoBe Arts campus, Kievman moved to the Colony Theater, where he produced You’re here in 2017. Based on the story of the pioneering scientist and his experiments with electricity in the 20e century, opera has proven to be a fascinating fusion of music and narrative drama.

Kievman also presented the American Masterworks String Festival in 2011, which brought together such loyal performers as violinist Lara St. John, cellist Matt Haimovitz and violist Kim Kashkashian on its Collins Park campus for a one-hour feast. week of works by American composers and master classes.

Prior to his years in Miami, Kievman studied with Earl Brown at the California Institute of the Arts. During two residencies in Paris, Kievman studied with the famous French composer Olivier Messiaen and he also attended the famous Darmstadt Summer School, a gathering place of avant-garde composers of the 1960s. There he has worked with luminaries such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio and Mauricio Kagel. He was a Bernstein Fellow in 1977 at the Tanglewood Music Center where his musical theater score Wake up, it’s time to go to bed was produced and received public and critical acclaim. In 1978, Kievman became composer and director in residence at the Public Theater in New York City, writing new works and scores for plays under the direction of legendary producer Joseph Papp.

Kievman’s production includes ten operas, eight symphonies and a lot of chamber and choral music. She was a singular musical voice and her contribution to the musical life of South Florida was unique and rewarding.

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