IlluminArts and The Bass Museum present:
Maria Martinez-Cañas: Revelations

IlluminArts and The Bass Museum present:
Maria Martinez-Cañas: Revelations

October 20, 2022

The Bass Museum

In this musical performance, IlluminArts will explore the layers of meaning beneath, within and beyond the new works Maria Martinez-Cañas created for her exhibition, Absence Revealed at The Bass Museum. The works comprising Absence Revealed came about through two recent personal events in Martinez-Cañas’ life: the loss of her mother and the chance finding of her Miami home’s original wallpaper while renovating. The works highlight physical and emotional processes of excavation: the act of revealing and uncovering, as well as the surfacing of pain, loss and absence. Martinez-Cañas created these works by collaging items from her personal archive of found objects, including materials that the artist’s mother had taken from Cuba during her exile in 1960, actively engaging with the ideas of memory and loss. The musical program to be performed twice during the evening of October 20th for the Miami Beach Culture Crawl will include 10 new improvisations by internationally renowned cellist, Sæunn Thorsteinsdottir, as well as songs by Tania Léon, Gilda Lyons, Hector Campos Parsi, Joseph Schwantner, Leo Brouwer, Heitor Villa-Lobos and more.


As an exciting precursor to this concert, cellist Saeunn Thorsteinsdóttir will offer our community a free music improvisation workshop at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden on October 17th at 6:30PM. This special workshop is open to all and no previous musical experience is necessary to participate, although, if you have a musical instrument, feel free to bring it! Sæunn is a musician driven by exploration. She is looking to create meaningful and powerful experiences that can touch the soul and can only exist in the moment. Her mission is to create spontaneous compositions, intuitive performances, and experimental collaborations that can cut beyond words and deeply connect people. Bring your creativity and join us for this one-of-a-kind experience!

RSVP for the free music improvisation workshop with Saeunn HERE.


Nell Snaidas

Nell Snaidas


Nell Snaidas has been praised by the New York Times for her “beautiful soprano voice, melting passion” and “vocally ravishing” performances. Her voice has also been described as “remarkably pure with glints of rich sensuality” (Vancouver Sun); and she has been called “a model of luminous timbre and emotional intensity” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

American-Uruguayan soprano Nell Snaidas began her career singing leading roles in zarzuelas at New York City's Repertorio Español. Soon after she was heard singing the role of “Christine” in The Phantom of the Opera throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Other Broadway credits include beating featured in the Actors’ Fund’s production of HAIR (and the Grammy Nominated cast album), singing for the movie-soundtrack of The Producers with Mel Brooks in the booth and participating in the all-star reading of Young Frankenstein directed by Susan Stroman and Mel Brooks.

Thanks to mentors Paul C. Echols and Nico Castel, Nell fell in love with Early Music and Sephardic Song. Specialization in Latin American and Spanish Baroque music, and music of the Sephardim, has taken her all over Europe, North and Latin America. She has been invited to join many leading Early Music ensembles in the capacity of soloist, guitarist, and Iberian/New World language and repertoire consultant. These groups include Apollo’s Fire, The Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Ex Umbris, Ensemble Viscera, El Mundo, Chatham Baroque and at Music Festivals from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Italy, to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. She has recorded for Sony Classical, Koch, Naxos and Dorian (for whom she served as language coach and soloist on 3 Spanish/New World Baroque cds). She was a featured soloist with El Mundo on “Kingdoms of Castille”  in this same repertoire which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Small Ensemble category. As a recitalist, Nell has joined forces with the Argentine lutenist/conductor Eduardo Egüez, their program “Vaya de Fiesta” features the two in works from Spain and Latin America accompanied by vihuela and baroque guitar.

In addition to her busy performing career, Nell is highly sought out for concert curations. Her award-winning programs have been called, "revelatory" (BBC Music Magazine) "innovative and brilliant" (Cool Cleveland) and having the effect of "painting a vivid portrait of secular and sacred everyday life" (Chicago Tribune). Nell is also the co-Artistic Director of GEMAS:Early Music of the Americas. This concert series in NYC, devoted to the Early Music and Performers of Latin America and Canada, is a project of the Americas Society and GEMS (The Gotham Early Music Scene). More information can be found at

As a stage director, Nell brings her love of Baroque Gesture together with a modern sensibility that results in vital and dramatic performances. Her work has been seen at Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin/Madison and Queens College with future productions at NYU/Steinhardt School of the Arts and Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado.

Elise Quagliata

Elise Quagliata


GRAMMY nominated mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata recently sang the role of Pellegrina/Older Doll to great acclaim in Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of Campbell and Prestini’s Edward Tulane. Earlier in the season as Ginny in Des Moines Metro Opera’s world premiere of Campbell and Kuster’s A Thousand Acres,  Quagliata was commended for her “phrases of full-bodied firepower, lighthearted banter, and  introspective utterances with equal vocal expertise.”

In the 2021/2022 season, Quagliata also sang the role of Minskwoman in Dove’s Flight with Utah Opera, Sister Helen in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with Opera Idaho, and the title role in Carmen with Pensacola Opera. In recent seasons she sang Elle in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine with Des Moines Metro Opera, Carmen with Kentucky Opera and with the Chattanooga Opera, Hannah After in As One with Pensacola Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Bay Chamber Concert, Emilia in

Verdi’s Otello with Austin Opera, and as Zosia in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness: Two Remain with The Atlanta Opera.  

A frequent interpreter of contemporary, American music, Quagliata has sung the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking in seven productions. Opera News cited her “passionate interpretation” and “exceptional technical finesse”. She was also praised by The New York Times for her “rich, expressive voice and passionate delivery” of Heggie’s song cycle on Sister Helen’s poetry, The Deepest Desire, performed in Los Angeles and New York with the composer at the piano. She originated the role of Joan Clarke in Justine Chen’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing with Chicago Opera Theater and sang the New York premiere of Wallace’s Hopper’s Wife as Hedda Hopper with New York City Opera.  

A celebrated Carmen, Quagliata has been praised for her “fierce charisma with vocal finesse.” She has sung many productions, as well as the New York City Opera world tour of Carmen in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Other notable opera roles include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Maria in Maria de Buenos Aires, Jo in Little Women, Olga in Eugene Onegin, and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, to name a few.  

Quagliata’s solo orchestral credits include Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras, DeFalla’s El Amor Brujo, and DeFalla’s Sombrero Tres Picos.

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir


Icelandic cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir enjoys a varied career as a performer, collaborator and teaching artist.  She has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the US, Europe and Asia. Sæunn has performed in many of the world’s prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall, Elbphilharmonie, Barbican Center and Disney Hall and the Los Angeles Times praised her performances for their “emotional intensity”.

Recent releases include Vernacular, a solo album of Icelandic music for cello, and the award-winning cello concerto, Quake, written for her by Páll Ragnar Pálsson, with the Iceland Symphony and Daníel Bjarnason on the Sono Luminus label which was nominated for a 2021 Grammy. Her recording of the Bach Cello Suites is due out in early 2023.

In addition to collaborating with Daníel Bjarnason on his award-winning composition Bow to String, Sæunn enjoys working with composers of our time such as Páll Ragnar Pálsson, Þuríður Jónsdóttir, Halldór Smárason, Michelle Ross, and Melia Watras. She has also given the US premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Wanderlied and the Hong Kong premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Canticle of the Sun, for cello, 2 percussionists and choir.

An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri and Cavani Quartets and has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. Formerly Artist-in-Residence at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall in Sonoma as well as cellist of the Manhattan Piano Trio, she is currently cellist and founding member of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall.

Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sæunn has garnered numerous prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition in New York and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb, Croatia. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook.

For more information, please visit

Koh Kazama

Koh Kazama


A New York City native, Koh Kazama is a concert guitarist and educator exposing audiences to the endless possibilities of the classical guitar. He started his guitar studies at the age of six, after being inspired by a Japanese rock musician. His diverse repertoire ranges from early music played on period instruments to contemporary music using electronic effects.

Dr. Kazama has performed in renowned venues, festivals, and concert series, including Carnegie Hall, Miami International GuitART Festival, Killington Music Festival, Long Island Guitar Festival,  ymphony Space, Webster Hall, WNYC New Sounds Live series, Mid-Hudso Classical Guitar Society, and Yale Guitar Extravaganza. He has also premiered works by a wide range of prominent composers, including Michael White, David Lang, William Anderson, Paula Matthusen, and Kendall Williams.

Dr. Kazama holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University, where he was a scholarship student and teaching assistant of the guitar department. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Master of Music, and Artist Diploma at Yale University. He received a full scholarship to attend Yale, and he was the recipient of the Eliot Fisk Prize, which was awarded to an  utstanding guitarist whose artistic achievements and dedication have contributed greatly to the department. He attended LaGuardia Arts High School in New York City, where he majored in cello and was part of the LaGuardia Symphony Orchestra. His major teachers have included Jerry Willard, Benjamin Verdery, Simon Powis, Liam Wood, Nadav Lev, and David Gonzalez. 

Dr. Kazama is currently on the faculty at New World School of the Arts, a partner of Miami Dade College, University of Florida, and Dade County Public Schools in Miami. At New World, he is the director of GuitarFest, an annual guitar workshop event. He has previously taught as a guitar instructor at Yale University and Stony Brook University. He is also a former faculty member and alumnus of Third Street Music School Settlement, the longest-running community music school in the United States.

In addition to his teaching and performing, Dr. Kazama has contributed publications and learning resources to the guitar community. He co-founded Monologue Publications, which is dedicated to creating solo and chamber music arrangements for guitar that include thoroughly researched  istorical and stylistic information for the player. He is also the co-founder of Leyenda, an online  raded classical guitar database.

In his spare time, Dr. Kazama enjoys playing soccer, snowboarding, and eating Japanese food.

Jenny Snyder

Jenny Snyder


Jenny Snyder has worked extensively throughout the Americas as a pianist, music director, and composer in classical and musical theatre settings. Born on the island of Guam, she began studying piano at the age of five and made her concerto debut at age 11. At 12 she made her solo recital debut and took the position as harpsichordist for the Black Hills Chamber Music Society. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance (summa cum laude) from the Eastman School of Music under Ms. Nelita True, and pursued graduate studies there in accompanying and chamber music with Dr. Jean Barr. Ms. Snyder received Eastman's Excellence in Accompanying Award in both 2001 and 2002 for her performances with students and faculty members. She has since been an accompanist to a wide variety of musicians from professional whistler Jason Serinus (the voice of Woodstock in Peanuts movies) to renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, with whom she has appeared in concert and on film.

Although trained as a classical pianist, Ms. Snyder has enjoyed a career in musical theatre venues as a coach and music director. She also takes a special interest in new music has worked with many distinguished contemporary composers including John Zorn, John Adams, and Steve Reich, on whose premier recording of The Desert Music (2001 chamber version) she is featured playing synthesizer. Ms. Snyder has lived in Miami since 2005 when she joined the staff of Florida International University’s School of Music as a vocal accompanist and coach. She is currently a collaborative pianist for myriad musicians, including those at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. She is the music director at St. John’s on the Lake United Methodist Church and the pianist, High Holiday conductor, and music educator at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, where her original compositions and arrangements are performed regularly.