We believe in the potential of passionate artists and what they can achieve with the needed support. The Avanti Award is granted to a select few in the performing arts who are not only talented, but have “Soul Deep” passion for their art, and when given a needed Avanti Award financial grant, flourish.

Artists Featured at the 2016 Avanti Award Dinner

The Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Avanti Award and the 9th Annual Avanti Award Dinner and Showcase, to take place on Friday, January 20, at the Mill Valley Community Center in Marin.

Matthew Linaman

Linaman, 25, is using the grant to fund his graduate studies of the cello in Europe, primarily in Barcelona, in order to fulfill his “personal vision to bridge diversity and connect humanity through music, one concert at a time.” In 2014 his quartet was sent to Eastern Europe and Russia through the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad Tour and it was there that he fully realized the power of music to transcend barriers. Linaman’s interest in Spanish music and the folk music that inspired it led him to his future teacher Lluis Claret in Barcelona, who has worked with several contemporary composers and premiered multiple works by important Spanish composers. Linaman plans to present and record a final recital and perform in churches and schools, as well as art galleries and corporate offices while he studies in Europe.

Madelaine Matej

Matej, 22, a classical singer, recently completed her studies as a Vocal Performances Major, Honors Program student, and Powell Scholar from University of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton. Frustrated by the nature of roles for sopranos, and inspired by the work of Bay Area author Alexandra Amati-Campari, Matej embarked on a two-year research project of the operas inspired by the Orpheus and Eurydice myth written between 1600 and 2000. Her research took her to Italy and Germany where she found out that many of the 79 operas had been lost or destroyed. Focusing on 14 of them, she presented her results as a lecture-recital at her university. She is using the Avanti Award to take her recital to conferences and performance venues around the U.S. and perhaps throughout the world. Matej hopes “to shed light on the plight of the leading lady and to display the potential for strength in female operatic characters.”

Andrew Sandahl

Classical guitarist Andrew Sandahl, 23, recently completed his final year at UCLA. He continues to take musicianship and music education courses, sings in an auditioned choir, and studies and performs with the competitive UCLA classical guitar ensemble. Sandahl was also accepted into a non-profit teaching organization, where he serves as the lead music instructor to a middle school class in an underserved area of Los Angeles. He plans to use the Avanti Award to travel to Spain to learn flamenco guitar style, and to continue studying, teaching, and performing. Sandahl, who once heard musicians referred to as “society’s therapists,” has adopted this view, and feels a strong obligation to continue making and teaching music. “You never know who may be in the audience, who may need healing,” he said.

The Avanti Award is granted by the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation to musicians who show passion, talent, and financial need. Starting with Giuseppe Brucia, who generously financed and helped found the San Francisco Opera in 1919, the Brucia family has supported the arts for nearly a century. In 2008, the grandchildren of Giuseppe Brucia — Larry Brucia of San Anselmo, Francesca Bestwick of Kentfield, and Louise Montalbano of Poppi, Italy — decided to keep alive the legacy of their family. They formed the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation, named for their parents, and called the awards “Avanti,” meaning to go forth, taken from a title of a poem written by their father.

Tickets to the 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Showcase are $150. The fundraising event includes the dinner, performance, and a silent and live auction. The event will be held on Friday, January 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto Boulevard, in Mill Valley, CA.

Since our founding, the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation has played a major role in the lives of its grant recipients, helping them “Go Forth and Seek their Artistic Passions.”

It is the Foundation’s goal to give recognition and financial support to emerging talent in the San Francisco Bay Area. These grants are provided to artists of all ages for excellence in the      performing arts.

The performing arts that are currently considered for an Avanti Award include: Playing of acoustic Instruments and singing of any kind. Theater and dance performances will also be considered.

The Avanti Award is given each January at the Foundation’s annual award dinner. Since 2008, grants have been awarded artists ranging from $4,000 to $20,000.  The amount awarded is based on three criteria: the artists' passion for their art, financial need, and talent.


Giuseppe Brucia’s generous financial support helped start the San Francisco Opera in 1919. In memory of the family’s patriarch, Joseph and Frances Brucia worked with the opera company director David Gockley to create the first live simulcast of the San Francisco Opera in 2006, which was enjoyed by over 8,000 viewers in the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza for free. Joseph was able to fulfill his father’s goal of bringing opera to the people. Subsequently, Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaimed January 26th Giuseppe Brucia Day in San Francisco. In 2007, in honor of their family legacy of support and love for the arts, the three Brucia children, Louise, Larry, and Francesca, founded the Joseph and Frances Brucia Foundation, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization.


Following the tradition of the Brucia legacy in supporting artists and their passions since the early 20th Century, our mission is to continually provide support to emerging and established artists to help them obtain their dreams.  The generous donations from people like you make the difference to help our mission to support talented performing artists.


Larry Brucia, Executive Director

Francesca Bestwick

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