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Conductor Michael Francis re-signs with The Florida Orchestra

Bill DeYoung

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Michael Francis, music director and conductor. Photo: Marco Borggreve/The Florida Orchestra.

Michael Francis, music director and conductor for The Florida Orchestra since 2015, has signed a contract extension that will keep him behind the podium through 2030.

The five-year extension is the third for Francis, the native of Great Britain who replaced Stefan Sanderling as music director.

His guaranteed 15 years’ tenure in the chief artistic position will be second only to that of Irwin Hoffman, the orchestra’s first music director, who conducted from 1968 to 1988.

Francis told the Catalyst that he was eager to re-up. “There’s always the risk that you can out-stay your welcome,” he said. “But I feel here that we’re really making progress, and really moving forward in the right way.”

Still, he said, “I feel we’ve got a lot more to achieve,” and that he wants to help the orchestra musicians “really achieve all that they are capable of.”

Under Francis’ watch, TFO has increased its “conversational” approach to classical music, through his pre-concert talks and popular “Inside the Music” events, in which he discusses the composer and the composer’s era and, with the assistance of orchestra musicians, demonstrates how certain passages were conceived and written.

“The thing that I am most passionate about is communication combined with excellence,” Francis said. “That we have a very, very high quality artistic product, and at the same time that we are really able to talk to our audience: If it is your first concert or your thousandth, we can help you connect to it.”

Moving forward, he stressed, “I want to make sure this orchestra is absolutely commensurate with the incredible growth that’s going on here in Tampa Bay. We are watching, and listening and experiencing something of an incredible awakening.

“This area’s always been wonderful, but to see what’s happened in the last 10 years, and where it’s heading … somehow I didn’t realize, when I came here, that I was building a station where all the trains were heading.”

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1 Comment

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    RITA SEWELL

    February 17, 2024at4:13 pm

    Fabulous conducting and delightful performances, we are so blessed by his presence.

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