The Greater Miami Youth Symphony has announced that Cerise Sutton, former director of education with the Florida Grand Opera, joins the organization as the new executive director. Lakeisha Frith, senior executive staff member, has been named assistant executive director.
Sutton is a musician, educator and arts administrator with 10 years’ experience connecting students, families and communities to the performing arts. Before joining the Greater Miami Youth Symphony as executive director, she spent five seasons with the Florida Grand Opera as director of education.
During that time she worked to establish FGO’s community footprint, bringing artsin- education programs to over 24 community libraries and their families through a reading initiative, titled “Read Along, Sing a Song;” produced sold-out family fun days at various community venues, and created a Partners in Excellence strategic plan with Miami-Dade Public Schools to provide opera methodology to students and teachers through in-school residencies, teacher professional developments and live-opera experiences.
This latter collaboration received a national award from the Yale School of Music, Symposium on Music Education, where she also received the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award.
Previous to her appointment at FGO, Cerise worked as the director of community engagement with New World Symphony and as the associate director of education and community programs with Boston Symphony Orchestra. In the latter capacity she effectively increased audience participation by 30 percent within the African- American communities of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.
She holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and earned her master’s degree in Music Performance at the University of British Columbia.
“For 57 years, Greater Miami Youth Symphony has provided unparalleled music education to Miami’s children and families which has resulted in high level performances for our community,” she said. “I am honored and excited to join the GMYS family and look forward to working with parents, children, members of the board and staff to continue building upon this legacy of exceptional music making.”
Born in Miami, violinist Frith is a GMYS alumnus and a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Humanities. Frith began working with GMYS in 2005 as the String Orchestra assistant and as an instructor in the GMYS Preparatory Program.
Transitioning into the orchestra director role in 2006, she started running a three-tiered string program with upwards of 60 students at Pinecrest Elementary School. In 2010, she became the GMYS executive assistant and taught beginning string classes throughout Miami- Dade County in Homestead, West Miami, Miami Beach, and Pinecrest locations; she additionally began fulfilling administrative duties and grant compliance.
Frith has also worked with United by Music Inc. in Broward County in its outreach workshops at the African American Library, Covenant House, and other parks and schools throughout Broward County. She has attended teacher trainings at the Indiana University String Academy’s Teacher’s Retreat as well as Suzuki method teacher trainings at the University of Miami.
Frith has been an adjudicator for the Children’s Trust Young Talent Big Dreams Competition, a panelist for the Youth Arts Enrichment Grant Program and an adjudicator for various Magnet Music Middle School programs throughout Miami-Dade County. She maintains a private lesson studio and enjoys teaching and performing.