To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon, the Florida Orchestra will welcome 49-year-old American composer and conductor Eric Whitacre for a concert spotlighting his Deep Field: A Cosmic Experience. With suitably celestial video backdrops courtesy of the Hubble Telescope, and extra dramatic effect provided by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (singing in the aisles), the local debuts of Whitacre and Deep Field are highlights of the orchestra’s 2019-2020 season, announced today.
A caveat: The historic lunar anniversary is in July, but that’s in the middle of the orchestra’s off-season. So the Deep Field experience has been booked for Nov. 8 at the Straz Center in Tampa, Nov. 9 at the Mahaffey Theater here in St. Pete, and Nov. 10 at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
That’s the rotation for almost every concert.
The Florida Orchestra’s 52nd season, music director Michael Francis said in a press release, has a special focus in Beethoven, in anticipation of the 250th anniversary of his birth in 2020. “Beethoven,” Francis explained, “is the greatest composer because he took all that life threw at him and turned it into inspirational art that still unites humanity today.”
Francis is programming all of Beethoven’s symphonies and major concerti over this season and next. “We’ll use Beethoven as a framework to explore deeper issues of his life and music, such as perseverance, hope and heroism,” he said in the release. “Then we’ll ask: Who are the Beethovens of today? Who are the people reflecting our society through music? We’ll continue to transform our own community through the power of music.”
The Masterworks Series for Season 52, which begins in September, includes the Mahler arrangement of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony – often called “Beethoven on steroids”; the master’s Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto No. 4; and Beethoven’s Fifth: Darkness to Light.
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring opens the program, followed by the enlarged Mahler arrangement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, ending with Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. “These are some of the biggest, most impressive sonic experiences you’ll ever have, all in one concert,” Francis said. “We start with the darkness of Stravinsky and rise through the triumph of Beethoven. Just when you think it can’t get any better, we launch into the pure, mind-blowing bliss of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy.”
Among the non-Beethoven works on the season’s dance card are Bach’s St. John Passion, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Rascher Saxophone Quartet performing a piece by contemporary American composer Philip Glass.
The opening weekend concert, Sept. 27-29, presents Latin, European and modern influences: Cuban pianist and composer Frank Fernandez will perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto, alongside Ravel’s Bolero, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Mothership, by Grammy-winning contemporary American composer Mason Bates.
The TFO Pops series, under the baton of Jeffrey Tyzik, includes a concert of symphonic Beatles music, salutes to James Bond and superhero movies, a program of music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, and a Broadway concert spotlighting Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
There’s lots more in store. For the full schedule – details included – click here.
Season tickets are available now; single show tickets go on sale in August.