September marks a very special month for Mario Miragliotta. He returns to work and the music he loves as the new artistic director for Classics for Kids, an organization that presents professional child-friendly educational concerts for school children and families. Paralyzed in an automobile accident on June 14, 2001, he will lead The Classic for Kids Philharmonic in three different programs during the 2002-2003 concert season, all from a special wheelchair.
Miragliotta - who is paralyzed from the chest down and has limited motion in his upper body - was driving to Colorado to serve as a Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival when the accident occurred. It was the second consecutive year that he was to participate in the festival’s prestigious Americana Academy of Conducting. He was to continue from Aspen to Texas, where he was scheduled to guest conduct the Fort Worth Symphony. Since his accident, Miragliotta, who was hospitalized for two-and-a-half months, has undergone extensive physical therapy and has recovered partial use of his arms.
Appointed assistant conductor of the American Youth in 1999 by the orchestra’s Music Director, Alexander Treger, Miragliotta was also serving as Music Director of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony at the time of his accident. He had been appointed Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for the 2001-2002 season, as well.
Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Miragliotta is the son of Italian and Japanese immigrants. He began playing the viola as a teenager, and although he briefly considered a career in either medicine or law, he decided to continue his musical studies. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Conducting and Composition from São Paulo State University in Brazil, he moved to the United States to study viola with Jessee Levine at Yale University, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Viola Performance in 1992. Continuing his studies on the West Cost, he received an Advanced Studies Certificate in Viola Performance from the University of Southern California (USC) under Professor Donald McInnes. Miragliotta subsequently studied conducting with Daniel Lewis at USC and, in 1999, earned a second Master’s Degree - in Conducting - under the tutelage of Jung Ho Pak. Noted conductor Sergiu Comissiona, with whom Miragliotta also studied, says he is “an exceptionally and naturally gifted conductor with a great future.” While enrolled at USC, Miragliotta found an important mentor in conductor Larry Livingston, dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, who helped guide his academic and professional pursuits.
Miragliotta, who is a gifted vocalist as well, studied opera with Gary Glaze at USC last year. Among his numerous accomplishments, Miragliotta has guest conducted in his native São Paulo with the Brooklyn Conservatory Orchestra and the Sinfonia Cultura, with whom he conducted a live radio broadcast. Miragliotta has recently moved to San Diego where he exercises daily at Project Walk. He is graciously sponsored through a grant by Rogers Severson, founder of the Spinal Cord Injury Special Fund.