Romanza founder Albert Syeles wins international awards for original music


Albert Syeles, local entrepreneur, businessman and nonprofit leader has been recognized for his original music and orchestrations among a variety of international art and film festivals.

Syeles is the president and co-founder of Romanza — St. Augustine Inc., a nonprofit which produces St. Augustine’s Romanza Festivale of Music and The Arts, Celtic Music & Heritage Festival and Highland games and the St. Patrick Parade. He is also president of St. Augustine’s EpiCentre Alliance Inc., a nonprofit coalition that is preparing to build a performing arts center in the St. Augustine area.

Through his online and in-person collaborations with composers and musicians from around the world, Syeles was recently invited to enter his original compositions in a variety of festival competitions.

“With the unexpected and numerous successes, maybe my style is so old fashioned that current festival judges haven’t heard anything like it,” said Syeles.

Syeles and his composition, “Christabel Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra,” won top honors at seven 2022 international festivals, including Toronto’s Fusion Awards, International Art Festival of Future as Best Music Composer; the Las Vegas International Film & Screenwriting Festival for Best Film and Musical Score in the Stand-Alone category; Dreamz Catcher International Film Festival for Best Film Score Soundtrack; the International Motion Picture Festival of India for Best Original Score; Indo French International Film Festival for Best Original Score; Munich New Wave Short Film Festival for Best Film Score; and Roma Short Film Festival for Best Film Score, as well as an honorable mention, second place, for Best Film Score at 2022 competitions in Tokyo, Zagreb and Rome.

Most recently, “Christabel” is an official selection at the New York Tri-State International Film Festival. To hear it, go to

Syeles was also awarded Honorable Mention Best Score in Seoul for his piece, “Quietude, Jazz Rondo for Orchestra.” To hear it, go to

According to Syeles, his long-standing business and cultural relationship with St. Augustine resident and music professional Kathleen Vande Berg helped to generate invitations to the various 2022 international festivals. In 2021, Vande Berg arranged for Syeles to present his music through visiting international concert pianists Catherine Lan and Tao Lin of Duo Beaux Arts and other chamber musicians during the 17-day Romanza Festivale in May 2022.

“I am delighted about the recent musical score awards,” said Syeles. “I believe my association with Duo Beaux Arts and the other Romanza Festivale performers has created a viral interest in my music among young musicians. That’s another example of Romanza's goal to showcase the talent of the local arts community.”

“For the Duo Beaux Arts concert, Albert’s work was intricate, and the compositions had to be newly scored for a variety of chamber instruments,” said Vande Berg. “We had great fun working with the musicians. Much of Albert’s work is characteristic of the classics, yet modernized for current audiences. I am so thrilled that Albert’s work is gaining the recognition it deserves. It may be a small body of work, but the music is highly complex and very pleasing to the ear.”

Vande Berg is chair of Romanza Festivale and secretary of the EpiCentre Board.

“Kathy and our board of directors at Romanza, have inspired me to resume creating my music after many years focused on the business world,” said Syeles. “We have successfully produced Romanza since 2012 as the only event in Northeast Florida which features all the arts, culture and heritage. The Festivale is an annual collaboration among dozens of organizations and businesses.”

Syeles retired from business after a career in accounting and finance, and as a former executive director at SBC Communications Inc., now known as AT&T. He is a certified management accountant, tourism & hospitality council director for St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, and a member of St. Johns County Civic Association Roundtable.

Syeles holds a B.A. degree in political science and government from Duquesne University and graduated from St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., with a special interest in band classes. He was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, and lives in St. Augustine with his wife Pat Syeles, who runs the Celtic Music & Heritage Festival and Highland games.

For more information, contact Albert Syeles at