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Boca Raton,  Florida, February 7, 2013:

The Florida East Coast Chapter of The National Society of Arts and Letters will honor Palm Beach Opera’s General Director Daniel Biaggi at their annual Red Rose Dinner Gala on April 4th at the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club.

The National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) is a National organization founded in 1944, whose mission is to fund, nurture, promote, and assist highly motivated young artists to advance their careers in the artistic disciplines of their choice.   Past recipients of NSAL support include Shirley MacLaine, Jessye Norman, and more recently, the organization’s 2004 Musical Theatre winner Megan Hilty, who is currently starring in NBC’s Broadway based hit SMASH.

The award-winning Florida East Coast Chapter, a non-profit, volunteer organization established in 1983, continues to further the Society’s goals.

The aims and objectives of NSAL are to discover talented young people at the beginning of their careers; to create opportunities for career development and expression in Literature, and the Visual and Performing Arts; and to recognize excellence by granting awards via national and local rotating competitions in Art, Dance, Drama, Literature, Music (instrumental and voice), Opera, and Musical Theatre to gifted young artists between the ages of 16 and 32.  The Florida East Coast Chapter holds one major competition per year.

In 2011 the Chapter began its Performing Arts High School Scholarship program, and in 2012 they awarded a total of $9,000 in scholarships to various students at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Dillard Center for the Arts, and the New World School of the Arts.  They also contributed $3,000 towards the National Society of Arts and Letters Lynn University Scholarship for Strings, Piano, and Theatre Arts.
Shari Upbin, Marilyn Nelson, Chloe DolandisNSAL president Shari Upbin, NSAL Vice President Marilyn Nelson and singer/songwriter Chloe Dolandis

In May, 2012 The Florida East Coast Chapter was the first winner of the newly established NSAL National Arts Advocate Award for their continuing efforts to identify, encourage and support young South Florida talent.

Daniel BiaggiNow entering his fourth season as General Director of the Palm Beach Opera, Daniel Biaggi is committed to expanding the company’s mission of presenting high quality opera productions and engaging educational and community outreach performances to the communities it serves. Under his leadership, the company celebrated its 50th Anniversary last season with two Golden Jubilee concerts featuring many of opera’s past and present stars in addition to three fully staged productions at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. To continue expanding its impact in the community, the company is holding the first collaboration with the Lynn University Conservatory of Music to present a Young Artist Production at the Wold Performing Arts Center, as well as an outdoor opera concert at the Meyer Amphitheater at the Waterfront in West Palm Beach.

A frequent panel discussion guest and competition judge, Mr. Biaggi served as Advisor and Judge for the National Society of Arts and Letters Local Florida Chapter Vocal Competition in 2008. Mr. Biaggi has also served as panelist for the Opera America Conference in Denver, and has been a jury member for the Tucker Foundation Career Grant Competition and Awards Nomination Panel, Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, and the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition. His commitment to Young Singers has led him to be invited to MissionAudition as part of Sherrill Milnes’ V.O.I.C.Experience, NYIOP pre-selection auditions in New York, Berlin and Zurich. He has also served as Advisor and Judge for the National Society of Arts and Letters Local Florida Chapter Competition.  Daniel Biaggi holds a Post-Graduate and Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, a Bachelor of Music Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Certificate of Musicology from the University of Berne, Switzerland. As a classically trained singer, Mr. Biaggi has performed operatic roles and recitals in the US as well as Europe.

As NSAL Florida East Coast Chapter President, Shari Upbin brings a deep theatrical background to the organization (her father was a writer for Jack Benny).   She is producer/director who has been a theatre professional since the age of 13 when she became a member of Actors Equity; she has been a professional tap dancer and choreographer and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers; and she has produced and directed over 50 productions in New York and around the country.
Jan McArt, Judi Asselta, Alyce Erickson, Shari Upbin                       Jan McArt, Judi Asselta, Alyce Erickson, Shari Upbin

Upbin, who brings her considerable talent and energies to NSAL is passionate and excited about the young people the Society supports, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve as NSAL president,” she says.  “This organization is an excellent example of ‘pay it forward’.  Our chapter has opened doors through our competitions for so many ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.  Some of our recent winners are already fulfilling the promise we saw in them:  Nadine Sierra has performed at the Met in NY, Krista Ettlinger danced at the Dutch National Ballet, Jose Luaces starred on Broadway in A CHRISTMAS STORY, Gelan Lambert appeared on Broadway in the hit show FELA!, and Kassie Abreu was selected to dance at the Duncan Theatre in Palm Beach. As a theatre producer and director I am thrilled to be part of such a necessary and vital organization.”

Nadine Sierra will be one of the performers at the Red Rose Dinner Gala

Alyce Erickson, who has been involved with the organization since the early 80’s is equally committed.  The organization’s work has become even more important “since they started cutting out arts and arts funding in schools,” she explains.  “We had only been looking for students in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, and working closely with the schools to identify, work with, and support these incredibly talented young people. But in May 2012, we expanded our search to encompass the entire eastern coast of Florida and Gainesville.”

For more information about The Florida East Coast Chapter of The National Society of Arts and Letters, The Red Rose Dinner Gala, Daniel Biaggi, or Shari Upbin, contact Carol Kassie (ckassie@gmail.com / 561-445-9244), or visit www.nsalbocaraton.org/ or

The NSAL Red Rose Dinner Gala
Thursday, April 4th
6:00 pm
Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club
2425 Maya Palm Drive West
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Tickets: $225
To purchase tickets please call: Alyce Erickson – 561-391-6380