Four Teen Poets Named Winners of PIANO SLAM 8

Performed in Broadway-style concert with top international and
local artists

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#adriennearshtcenter–PIANO SLAM 8, a grand Classical/Hip-Hop concert of poetry and pianos
filled the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts last
night and named four winners in the annual competition for writing
poetry inspired by music for Miami-Dade County’s middle and high school
students. The show presented 16 finalists in a Broadway-style live
performance with internationally and locally acclaimed musicians, poets
and dancers.

The competition winners are:

Middle School General Language: Chika Ojukwa
grade, 13 years old, Lawton Chiles Middle School

High School General Language: James Balo
grade, 16 years old, Design and Architecture Senior High

Middle School STEM: Christopher Badillo
grade, 13 years old, George Washington Carver Middle School

High School STEM: Katherine Nichols
12th grade,
18 years old, Miami Arts Charter School

“All 16 finalists captivated the audience with their riveting
performances of the spoken word,” said Carlene Sawyer, director
of Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation, the creator of PIANO SLAM.
“The evening was inspiring and beautiful – it’s wonderful to give these
kids an opportunity to express themselves.” Award-winning Dranoff
classical pianists Maarten van Veen and Bobby Mitchell traveled from
Holland and Germany to perform with the students.

The 16 student finalists, whose poems ranked tops among thousands of
entries in this countywide poetry contest based on their love of music,
performed under the direction of award-winning playwright and director,
Teo Castellanos. Under Mr. Castellanos’ guidance, they were transformed
into professionals during weeks of intensive performance coaching.

This annual final concert is the culmination of months-long PIANO SLAM
curriculum for all Miami-Dade public middle and high school students.
Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation, which is based in Miami
and internationally renowned, brings its award-winning classical
pianists into schools for concerts and students are invited to write
poetry based on the inspiration of music. Every year, thousands of
students submit poems into the competition. PIANO SLAM demonstrates the
importance of arts and music education programs’ real connection in the
classroom to help students learn. It is the largest arts program in
Miami-Dade middle and high schools brought by an outside organization.
The curriculum developed by Dranoff supports a student’s cognitive,
social, and emotional development and shows the vital role the community
plays in helping our schools, teachers and students.

To make donations or for more information about PIANO SLAM including
photography and video for media, visit


For 30 years, the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation (Dranoff) has
been the world’s leading organization to champion exclusively two piano
repertoires and artistry. It is the only international foundation,
accredited by the World Federation of International Music Competitions,
to discover, promote, and award honors to top professional duo piano
artists through its competition, commissions, and presentations of duo
piano concerts. The Dranoff promotes awareness to a new generation of
students of the transformational power of music and the arts through its
multi-disciplinary, educational, and inspirational concert program,
PIANO SLAM. The Dranoff is one of the few world-class performing arts
organizations headquartered in Miami-Dade County, whose activities span
the globe and create recognition abroad of the region’s positive image
and commitment to the highest standards of creativity and the arts.
Dranoff also promotes Miami as an international cultural destination. It
exposes its home audiences to major international artists, thereby
creating a cultural bridge to foster universal understanding and respect
through music. For more information, visit


Jessica Wade Inc.
Media Contacts:
Tyler Sminkey,
Wade Inc.
Margie Sernik, +1-305-456-0483