International fashion illustrator Lindsey Kate is bringing her classic, elegant creative vibe to Crescendo! 2023! 

Raised in rural Illinois, the 32-year-old artist is now based in South Florida, some of her renowned clients include Jimmy Choo, Salvatore Ferragamo, Escada, Ted Baker London, LoveShackFancy, Alice + Olivia, Four Seasons Hotel & Spa, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Hugo Boss, Nic + Zoe, Le Chateau, LaCroix, L’Oréal and many others. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and even on the cover of a book about fashion. 

Constantly exploring new techniques and media, this whimsical illustrator tailors the style of every project to fit the unique need of each client. Always aiming to capture the elegance, beauty, and confidence of the human form in her creations, Lindsey Kate finds inspiration within historic illustration, nature and modern art. Part of her success is having a clear understanding of color theory, textiles, construction, fit and concept design, which allows her to effectively illustrate technically accurate designs as well as representative creative fashion figures. 

Passionate about bridal illustrations and creative work for publications and advertisements, she loves the range of applications her art has found and enjoys creating projects for personal shoppers, stylists, online retailers, pattern makers, as well as fashion and accessory designers. 

We spoke with effervescent Lindsey Kate as the holidays approached to get to know Crescendo! 2023’s guest artist and here are highlights of our conversation. 

What sparked your interest in art? 

LK: Since I was young, I have always been drawing. I was always drawing dresses. I had that passion and definitely followed it. Throughout high school I took all the advanced art classes I could and went to Columbia College Chicago and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design and art history.

What specifically about fashion inspired you?

LK: How day to day you can express your personality through fashion by being creative and artistic. It's dramatic and fun and I just love that each designer has their own style and vibe and that everybody can express themselves differently every day through fashion.

What is Lindsey Kate’s fashion style and vibe? 

LK: I'm one of those people who it can change but I would say my go to is Unique Classic. I do wear a lot of black that's like my “go to,” but I love styling it with something bold or dramatic — like a really fun, artsy jewelry piece or really awesome shoes or a cool belt, or scarf. 

Speaking of black, the theme for Crescendo! 2023 is Ebony & Ivory ball — so chic black and white, which and you helping us bring it to life through your gorgeous illustrations. As a fashion illustrator can you share some tips on how people might think about channeling the theme?

LK: I would say there's so many ways you could go with that. My advice would be to just express yourself and make it unique with texture or embellishments because there's so many options with black that those little details will really make you stand out.

You have brand clients that span the globe. What is your creative process like?

LK: Each client has different needs and different moods that they want portrayed in their work. My first step is just gathering the full directive from that client and asking questions to get a feel for them. From there, I brainstorm my ideas. I might do some research on the subject if it's something I'm not super familiar with it or if I need some inspiration. And then, I always start sketching. Depending on the project, I might submit sketches or go straight into color. And then take it to my computer to do any last-minute touch ups, submit it to the client, and discuss as needed from there. I would say it's similar for each person but because each project is so different, I think the most important part is getting that first initial communication on what they're looking for. The feeling that they want to portray.

Let's talk about your illustrations for Crescendo! 2023. The first in the series is the Kick Off Lunch event. 

LK: Yes! That one is champagne bubbles, energy, fun. The vibe is hanging out with your girls chatting, laughing in fun outfits. I just created them as I went. I tried to go for fun, unique styles that women do when they're just being themselves out having a day with the girls.

Next is the Vintner Dinners. That is a challenging gathering event to capture. 

LK: Yes, that one was unique, and I loved working with your marketing team and collaborating on how we could portray that. That was fun. There are small things like the movement of her arm or the movement of the sommelier — just those choices to create movement can suggest a mood and feeling in an illustration. 

Finally, the Main Event. Please share a bit about The Couple that you illustrated.

LK: We did something new this year by introducing a male in the graphic so that people could feel welcome to come as a couple and men would feel welcome. We definitely wanted the Main Event couple to look like they're having a good time and I tried to communicate that with their outfits. You'll notice like the feather cuff on her sleeve and the feathers along the train. And then I added a little stripe of white on each side to give her form some movement and then also, to nod to the Ebony & Ivory theme. We wanted them to evoke that the event is going to be a little bit more formal, but I also I wanted to their fashion to be kind of neutral, something that different people could identify with that's not necessarily just one style if that makes sense.

You illustrate for a lot of people in different ways. How do you describe your work? Your artistic style?

I would describe it as elegant with a high fashion vibe. My goal in my illustrations is capturing the elegance, beauty, and confidence of the human form. Usually, it's females, but sometimes it's men and women, which is great. I would say I take like elements from historic illustration, because that's where it all came from, but I like to make it a little bit more modern.

What do you to relax in your free time? 

LK: I like to paint. That's very like calming to me. I like abstract painting on canvases and things that's fun. I love being in nature. I love being out on the ocean, hiking, exploring that's probably my favorite thing to do and I find a lot of good inspiration. I have a strong passion for saving the planet and saving the oceans and I volunteer with some with organizations for that. 

As an artist, why should people support the arts an organizations like Sinfonia Gulf Coast? 

LK: I love the quote that's says, ‘Earth without art is just eh.’ To me, art is a part of people's everyday lives and supporting people that go into those fields is super important because it's a passion and it affects everything down to the tiniest things in our daily lives…. I think that you can make really big changes on important things through art and music. You can change the world. I know that sounds like a little bit dramatic, but like those tiny little things can. It's the creativity behind it. And that's how I think we create changes — through creativity.

Come say hello to Lindsey Kate on February 26 at the Crescendo! Main Event. She will be drawing live illustrated portraits on site at the event. Follow her on Instagram @lindseykateillustration and Facebook @lindseykateillustrations.

Matt Rogers was 5 years old when he got his first laugh. 

“I was addicted to making people laugh. I wanted to be a comedian,” he confesses.

Nearly 40 years later and this passionate, kind, and funny auctioneer/performer is still lighting up a room in hopes of making a difference. 

Before this California native commanded attention on stage at gala events, he put his 6’5” frame to work as an offensive lineman for the University of Washington. After school, he used his vocal cords as a sports broadcaster covering top college teams. In 2010, he moved to California and big things began to happen, literally. He was cast as the host of the Discovery Channel’s Really Big Things, a show that spotlighted big things like a huge hydrogen partial collider in Germany. He hosted Lifetime’s Coming Home, a program reuniting military families. He made appearances on The Price is Right and Family Feud and was a finalist on American Idol. In 2021, a dream came true when the Spring Hill, Tennessee resident beat out 200 contenders to become the official “voice” of the Tennessee Titans, Rogers’ favorite home team.

“I want to people to feel joy, give more and laugh more. I’m all about making the room better,” he says. 

He’s also about making his family feel better. He and his wife, Teri, have four children Brayden, 16, Mason, 14, Samantha, 8, and Brooklyn, an infant. The three youngest were born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), an uncurable disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body. Rogers was at a 2009 fundraiser for CF when he was first asked to emcee. 

“I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I got the crowd involved, and they had a blast,” Rogers says. Clearly Rogers was doing something right. The event raised three times as much as the previous year. Soon, Make A Wish Foundation and Susan Komen Foundation were calling and Rogers’ career as a professional auctioneer was launched. 

More than a decade later, Rogers has hosted more than 1,000 events including. Since 2019, after hosting Crescendo several years running, you could say he has been the voice of Sinfonia Gulf Coast. Whether hosting a TV show, announcing a football play, or auctioneering, Rogers loves to entertain. 

“I love being on stage,” Rogers says. “I was always the kid trying out for the church and school plays. I was singing victory opera in my jock strap in the locker room after the games. Though I love all music from Christian to rap, I’m not a musician. I am a performer.”

As much as he loves the spotlight, that’s not what keeps this big-hearted emcee coming back.

“I love people,” he says. “I love to show people how to have a good time. Whether you are a billionaire or have a $200 budget, you are looking for a good time — and both of you deserve all I have.”

Rogers returns to host a range of annual events from small town spaghetti suppers to A-list celebrity galas. But Sinfonia has a special place in his heart. 

“I am impressed with Sinfonia. The team, starting with Demetrius Fuller, is first class. How you do anything is how you do everything and the way he treats me, the orchestra kids, people at events — everyone gets first class treatment,” Rogers says. 

Rogers has traveled the world hosting events and he believes Sinfonia events are set apart. 

“The Gulf Coast community is unlike any in America. It’s very special,” Rogers says. “There aren’t many Sinfonias. If you want to see the most influential people and decision makers in the Panhandle, you need to go to Sinfonia events. When you have an opportunity to be around the most influential people who are looking for what they can give versus what they can get, it’s a gamechanger. On top of that, because the most influential people are there are going to get a 5-star experience from the food to the entertainment.”

Sinfonia Youth Orchestra (SYO) has a new director … and plenty of opportunities for student musicians looking for top-shelf music education experience … and fun. More on that later. First, let’s meet Sinfonia’s newest music maker. 

Loquacious, kind, and meticulous, 26-year-old Margaret Gordon was born and raised in Fort Walton Beach. Her passion for music began at Kenwood Elementary School where she began learning the viola. She was in Sinfonia Youth Orchestra while a student at Choctawhatchee High school. She went on to earn her undergraduate degree at University of West Florida in Music Performance and a master’s degree in Viola Performance from Appalachian State University. She has taught violin viola and piano and ukulele — and recently has taken up the mountain dulcimer! She is newly married to Cameron Gordon, a middle school band director, and the music making couple recently moved to Crestview. 

We caught up with Margaret in between SYO and After School Violin rehearsals and here are highlights of our conversation: 

As a former SYO student, you can say you’ve come full circle. What does it mean to you to be the director? 

MG: Being the director of SYO is the biggest realization of a dream I never even knew I had. I am so humbled to be able to give back to the organization that gave me my foundations in music. Without the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra, I never would’ve been able to foster the love of music that was in me from childhood. By the time I left elementary school, there were no more strings programs available to me in the schools. Knowing that my job allows me to directly impact the students in Okaloosa and Walton Counties brings me immense joy.

Having a master’s degree in music as well as teaching experience, you are well suited to your role. How does your background plays into your role with SYO?

MG: Throughout my collegiate studies I was a part of numerous orchestras and performing chamber ensembles. During this time, I also taught privately as a graduate assistant. I have experience teaching to groups as well as private instruction of multiple instruments. By working with so many instructors throughout my studies, I have gleaned numerous techniques and styles of instruction that have come to form my personal philosophies on teaching. It is my belief that the best learning happens in an environment where exploration is encouraged, and mistakes are freely made without the fear of judgment. All sincere efforts should be celebrated as teacher and student work together to find better solutions. 

SYO is unique in that it is affiliated with a professional orchestra. Why is that important? 

MG: Being affiliated with Sinfonia means that students receive the highest level instruction available to them outside of their regular school settings. This mentorship is critical to budding musicians as many need guidance into the professional world. Sinfonia Gulf Coast is comprised of professionals who have walked this path and who can serve as examples of where the student’s journey will lead them with hard work and dedication. Because music is a continual journey, it is hard for a student to understand how far they can go if not presented with the finest examples.

What excites you about being the SYO director?

MG: My absolute favorite thing about working with the students of SYO is to be able to celebrate in the triumphs of each student. Whether the progress happens within the individual or within the group as a whole, it brings me immense joy to be able to see the faces of the kids as their confidence grows. 

Many schools do not have music programs, why should kids join SYO?

MG: SYO provides students an opportunity to experience a part of the world that may otherwise be lost to them. Music in general provides so many benefits to developing children.  It can help kids with math skills, increase reading levels, and help them to develop high levels of critical thinking. Believe it or not, communication is a large part of music as well. Whether this is happening silently during performance or before and after rehearsal with like-minded peers, SYO provides kids with an opportunity to become more well-rounded individuals. I like to think that when we teach music, we are actually teaching life skills with music being the vehicle to do so. And besides that, it’s fun!  

Why do you love playing music? 

MG: Playing music allows me to communicate in a way that fully encompasses the emotions I feel when words aren’t enough. A memory I cherish is of a performance I gave in Pensacola. During the performance I had felt a shift take place within me that felt like a release of sadness, joy, and triumph all at once. Afterwards, an older gentleman approached me and confided that my performance had touched his soul. Music is meant to be shared, no matter the form, and to provide people with such an experience is the most selfless thing I can imagine.

What kind of music do you like most?

MG: My favorite music is music that challenges me intellectually. I commute to work, so I spend a lot of that time taking apart the compositional elements of songs and trying to isolate things like rhythm and harmony. But the less snobby answer would be Contemporary Christian, Pop, and Classic Rock. I walked down the aisle at my wedding to a string quartet arrangement of Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

What are your personal interests outside of music? 

MG: I love to read and be outside in nature. Crocheting is also a favorite hobby of mine. If it’s got a pattern, I can make it!

Why is it important for people to support Sinfonia Gulf Coast?

MG: When you support Sinfonia Gulf Coast, you are directly supporting the dreams of thousands of students across Okaloosa and Walton Counties. When we bring educational music programs into the schools, the kids’ eyes light up and their imaginations run wild. The musical knowledge that we have as adults is often taken for granted. Many students live in homes where weekend excursions to the symphony are just not possible. When you support Sinfonia, you support our mission of bringing music to all children, regardless of their situation. You could be the reason a child dares to dream big and, just like me, grows up to be the next conductor of the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra.

Sinfonia Youth Orchestra is accepting applications. Why join SYO? Beyond the fun, there are a numerous valuable benefits. Click here to learn more.

By Zandra Wolfgram 

Morgan James is a classical trained vocalist, Broadway veteran and recording artist. She also is no stranger to the Sinfonia Gulf Coast Stage having wowed audiences with her sultry and soulful delivery of Broadway hits, American Songbook standards and even some of her own tunes. We caught up with the performer the New York Times describes as “a phenomenal talent” to talk about her return to the Emerald Coast to appear in the U.S. Southeast premier of Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration.

You are a classically trained opera singer who earned a bachelor’s degree in Voice at The Juilliard School. Was performing always a given for you? 

MJ: I found choir and theater when I was around 12 or 13 and I was hooked. The exact direction I was going was kind of a mystery, but I wanted to be on Broadway. That was one of my big dreams. I knew the first time I stepped foot in New York, it was my place. 

What was the first show that you did on Broadway? 

MJ: The Addams Family with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. I did all of the original workshops and tour. It was an incredible experience. Then I did Wonderland, Godspell, Motown: The Musical and Kristin Chenoweth’s show For the Girls.

You have performed on Broadway, appeared with symphonies, released your own albums. What aspect of your talent do you identify with most?

MJ: Absolutely a singer first. I love acting and comedy and being on stage in lots of different ways. A lot of people ask me if I miss being on Broadway. I miss the people. I miss certain aspects of it, but I love doing something different every single night. I love writing music and I get to perform so many different styles of music. I'm just so lucky. I get to travel the world singing every single night so it's an incredible gift that I've been given. 

You have such vocal range. Do you have a particular niche or genre of music that that you prefer? 

MJ: I come from the tradition that you always listen to the greats. And that's how you formulate your musical language and your musical ideas and then you find your own style. Whether it was R&B, soul music or jazz, I listened to the best singers and I tried to constantly fill my ears with really pure ingredients. I love singing soul music and listening to R&B, but frankly I sing a ton of American Songbook and jazz and blues. The fact that I get to sing them all at certain points in time is amazing.

Knowing hundreds of songs, is it possible to have a favorite?

MJ: I have some favorites that just always touch my heart. Like songs like the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows or songs like Ain’t No Way by Aretha Franklin. There are songs that make me happy and make me smile, but it’s hard to pick one single favorite.

As a singer, what is your perspective of Judy Garland?

MJ: Growing up I was always trying to emulate some of the greats like Judy, Barbara, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald. Judy being so iconic in both the American Songbook and in the theatrical realm — she was just so present. Being able to do this show is so special. When this show first came out, I was really hoping that I could take it on because the music fits me like a glove. 

How do you take on a legend like Judy?

It’s not my duty to do an impersonation, but there's no way to sing her songs and her keys without taking on some of that spirit. And I'm so obsessed with vintage clothing and having everything be true to the era that I think that is also what makes it authentic. I'm trying to match the styles, the hats, the gloves, the dresses, and so that I can really step in her shoes for an evening.

Do you have a Judy Garland favorite?

MJ: I do! It's Man That Got Away. 100 percent.

What about it?

MJ: It’s very rarely you hear a song that no one else ever does better. This is a song everyone's covered, everyone sung it and no one does it better. A close second favorite is kind of a deep cut from her Carnegie Hall concert in 1961. And it's You’re Nearer, which not as many people know. It's got this heartbreaking aching fragility and beauty. Judy is the epitome of strength and fragility in the same moment. And that’s what made her so unique. She didn't get to live on this earth very long and to hear that much pain and vulnerability and her voice I think is what why she's so compelling to this day.

What do you do to approach a role or a performance? 

Everyone already knows the songs. They know the story. All I have to do is remind people of how great she is and try to get them to feel it for a moment so they can say ‘I felt like I was there with her again just for a moment.’

We are so happy you are returning to the Sinfonia stage in Get Happy. What can audiences expect?

I love being back because obviously Demetrius Fuller is one of my favorite people on this planet. He's such a big supporter of mine and truly supports development and in music in a profound way. Finding him as a friend and a collaborator was a really lucky day for me. As for the show, the arrangement is amazing, and Nicholas Rodriguez is joining me. He's talented, gorgeous, and charming. The show is such a seamless, beautiful production that combines, the past and the present. This is really a beautiful way to remember Judy for her 100th birthday and all people have to do is show up. We're gonna make it classy, we're gonna make it sexy and we're gonna have fun! 

Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration is Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center. Purchase tickets at SinfoniaGulfCoast.org

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Join our email list

4608 Opa-Locka Lane, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 460-8800
info@SinfoniaGulfCoast.org
DONATE
© 2022 - Sinfonia Gulf Coast. Website by Frances Roy Agency.
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