All throughout our childhood, those Saturday-morning Schoolhouse Rock jingles assured us that three was the magic number. Journalist and radio producer Gustavo Noguera likes the number nine, particularly the bracing Ninth Symphony written by Romantic-era composer Ludwig van Beethoven. No matter that the German kicked the bucket 175 years ago. No matter that Miami's only significant classical-music radio station went under, and the new one we just got is on the AM band, offering that inimitable sensation of having sweat socks jammed in your speaker. No matter that Beethoven has nothing to do with Miami. This very international city we live in should honor the music man, thought Noguera. His idea: Designate one block east and west of South Miami Avenue on SE Ninth Street as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Street. A couple of city commission meetings later (okay, a couple of years later) and Noguera's hero was honored.
"I'm a romantic person and a street is for everybody. It's public domain," says Noguera about why he chose pavement over a simple statue. Another thing in the public domain is classical music, and this Sunday an inaugural ceremony will be followed by a concert by the New World Symphony Brass Quintet and musicians from the Coral Reef High School Chamber Orchestra led by Alan Hudson. The next day, local musicians, including pianists Kirk Whipple and Marilyn Morales and guitarist Fabio Zini, will offer a two-hour show to celebrate Beethoven's 232nd birthday.
Noguera's Beethoven-related ambitions don't end there. He hopes the future might hold a Beethoven plaza, a memorial, a replica of the composer's home, a park featuring classical music pumped in 24 hours a day, and a Metromover stop named Brickell Beethoven Station. He also wants to establish a Miami Beethoven Society.
Seems out of character for a town that doesn't really move to a classical beat, but not for Noguera: "I think in this case the name Beethoven goes beyond classical music. He's a universal person. After the name is hanging there on the street signs, everything will have more soul."