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The Frost Advanced Piano Program Equalizes Power in Music

One of Cubisino's 14-year-old students preparing for an audition.
By Maritza Cosano

One of Cubisino's 14-year-old students preparing for an audition.

The Frost Advanced Piano Program Equalizes Power in Music

By Maritza Cosano
The Frost School of Music’s Advanced Piano Program is developing a distinct personality in music, equalizing its power, and taking an active part in transforming the artistic careers of extraordinary young talents.

“My instrument is piano,” said Lili Theisen, before she performed Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto last spring at the Side-by-Side Concert at the New World Symphony. “This is one of the most treasured works of the Romantic concerto repertoire,” she continued. “A lot of people say that piano is like an entire orchestra in one instrument, and I agree. I like how you can produce such a variety of harmony with the piano.”
 
The 17-year-old, eleventh-grade student from the Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Downtown West Palm Beach, received a standing ovation for her brilliant performance. And no other musician in the house could have been more gratified than her piano teacher, pianist Luca Cubisino, Founder and Director of the Frost Advanced Piano Program (FAPP), a division of the Frost School of Music Preparatory Program at the University of Miami.
 
The Italian native enjoys teaching extraordinary young instrumentalists like Theisen. His vision is to empower and inspire them and present intensive hands-on training opportunities where they can potentially perform alongside professional musicians like the New World Symphony Fellows—a place where they are developing musical relationships with the Fellows as they rehearse and perform the music of the highest caliber.

“That’s the major purpose for the program,” says Cubisino, who hopes FAPP will create learning opportunities, not only for its students, but also for members of the community that cultivate an interest in music. “I hope to create an audience that will get to know the FAPP students, grow with them, support them, and partake in their educational and pianistic development.”

Designed as an exclusive program for piano students who are ready for more intensive and immersive studies, this program prepares them for a career in the music world–and for the best universities in the country.

Cubisino foresees the rigorous program as a hub of excellence in Florida. It’s for talented students who want to follow their musical aspirations through institutionalized training that may turn into one of its kind in our State.

“For these reasons, and because we highly value music education, and strongly believe that the right for its pursuit cannot be compromised by the student’s means, we are very grateful to people who contribute to the equalizing power of music and take an active part in transforming our vision to make a difference in the artistic careers of these young talents,” he says.

While this intensive 10-year-long training may be new to our community, it’s not a new concept. In fact, Cubisino followed a similar curriculum at the famous Conservatory of Catania in Italy. Known as a center of musical culture, Catania shaped Cubisino’s response to his music, allowing old techniques and interesting new ideas into his playing and teaching.

“I completed my 10-year conservatory in seven years,” he says, recalling the famous faces that became mentors, influencers, and voices in his head. Mentors like Aquiles Delle Vigne, an Argentine who had been a pupil of Claudio Arrau. Delle Vigne, who is not without spiritual grandeur, is among the famed peers of his generation, in a range without equal.

But no other pianist has been a greater influence in Cubisino’s teaching method, and in his life as a musician, than Franco Scala. Cubisino met the old maestro in Palermo, Italy years ago, and moved to Imola to study with him.

“Maestro Franco Scala is a legend in Italy because he founded the Imola International Academy Incontri col Maestro,which has attained worldwide fame thanks to the excellence of its teaching philosophy,” explains Cubisino as he recalls the intense training he received from Scala, whose students have won competitions all over the world.
 
Cubisino also attributes part of his teaching and exercise method to Vincenzo Scaramuzza, another extraordinary Italo-Argentinian pianist and pedagogue of the 20th century who created a piano school in Buenos Aires and taught -one for all- the young Martha Argerich. “I learned about Scaramuzza’s method from Scala, whose pianistic genealogy dates back to him. He was a great Master whose work as a teacher impacted me and other generations of young musicians with great vocational sense and passion.”
 
Enchanted by this European heritage along with the doctoral studies undertaken with the world renown Frost School of Music faculty, Cubisino has assimilated his master’s teachings and devoted most of his time and talents to teaching the Frost Advanced Piano Program.
 
As an artist, he is a passionate, imaginative, and unconventional musician who likes to sink the roots of his music into his teaching. When he started teaching at the Frost School of Music Preparatory Program, he soon started thinking of developing the FAAP, which was immediately endorsed by Dean Shelton Berg and the Department of Keyboard Performance faculty, as well as the Director of the Preparatory Program, Megan Walsh.

Under the mentorship of Cubisino and his colleague, Ana Ivanchenko, students can potentially start as early as six years old and finish when they’re about eighteen. They can also continue their studies at a college or university of their choice, including the Frost School of Music, where already one of the FAPP’s alumni has been admitted on a full scholarship into the undergraduate program as a piano performance major.
 
“I love the way we get to know our students throughout the years, as I think this step is crucial,” Cubisino says. “Students have an opportunity to work with the Department of Keyboard Performance faculty, who gets to know their work and how much they’ve been improving throughout the years. It’s not the same as meeting someone for the first time during an audition for only 10 or 15 minutes, and then saying yes or no.”
 
There are not many programs like the Frost Advance Piano Program in Florida. Teaching young, bright minds the art of performing requires rigorous study and practice, a passionate heart that understands and loves music, and a commitment to equalizing its power. And behind this Prep program, there lies Cubisino’s passion and devotion to his students, to his art—a precious inheritance assimilated in the great piano schools of his masters, which he aims to emulate. 
 
The Frost Advance Piano Program has a live audition on August 20, 2022. To learn more, visit their site or email: advancedpiano@miami.edu.