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The Florida Orchestra announces its 2022-23 concert season

Bill DeYoung

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Michael Francis conducts The Florida Orchestra. TFO photo.

Looking backwards has never been a priority for Michael Francis, musical director of The Florida Orchestra. The maestro is always focused on the now, the new, the next big thing.

And as TFO begins its final month of concerts before the summer break, Francis is quite naturally enthused about the 55th season, which will begin in October.

It’s a typically eclectic season, with a strong balance of classical concerts (the “Masterworks” series) including well-known and beloved works, pops shows, community concerts and other forms of musical magic-making (many from the latter categories still to be announced).

Here’s to the future. “I think The Florida Orchestra has weathered the storm better than most, because we didn’t really stop during the main Covid season of 20-21,” Francis said. “We kept going, so we had a good connection with our audiences.

“And although we’re still hopeful for even more audiences next season, we have certainly seen quite a lot of concerts sell out, particularly in St. Pete – so we’re feeling very positive about moving forward.”

Unless noted, the concerts take place at the Mahaffey Theater, the Straz Center and/or Ruth Eckerd Hall.

The season-opening program (Oct. 7-9) is centered around Carl Orff’s orchestral/choral masterpiece Carmina Burana. “I think what we still all are looking forward to is hearing epic pieces at full forces,” Francis noted. “Carmina Burana is the idea of dealing with fate, dealing with fortune and fighting back. And I think that’s something which seems rather appropriate coming out of this pandemic, which has affected everybody.”

This concert will feature the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.

A jazz-infused concert, Jan. 6-8, pairs Gershwin’s An American in Paris and other classic works with a Tuba Concerto composed by brass legend Wynton Marsalis for the Philadelphia Orchestra. It will feature TJ Graf, The Florida Orchestra’s principal tuba player. And will be, Francis said, “a very flamboyant, colorful thing.

“And if you’ve never heard a tuba concerto, it’s certainly worth hearing. As a double bass player, I’m used to being somewhat of a dancing bear when I perform – and I think the tuba is even more so. And it’ll be brilliant, because he (Graf) is such a formidable virtuoso.”

Also high on Francis’ “hit list” is the TFO performances of Wagner’s The Ring Without Words in May, 2023. “It’s not the full 15-hour, four-day opera,” Francis explains. Wagner’s Ring cycle is a massive blend of symphonic music and operatic vocalizing.

“Lorin Maazel, the great conductor, took all the best pieces of music and turned it into an instrumental symphony, over about 70 minutes. And it’s this glorious, virtuosic foray through the entire chronology of The Ring.’”

In other words, it’s Wagner’s Greatest Hits, Francis confirms: “A glorious condensing of everything into this orchestral tour de force. All the best bits, featuring our formidable brass section and the entire orchestra. It’s going to be a really epic evening.”

The concert, at the Mahaffey Theater and Ruth Eckerd Hall, will pair the Wagner piece with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20.

Other Francis favorites are Tampa Bay composer Michael Ippolito’s commissioned concerto for TFO principal violinist Jeffrey Multer (Dec. 2-4), and Mendelssohn’s Elijah “an amazing Old Testament drama” (May 5-7).

 

Pops hits

And how about these?

Hollywood Sings (Oct. 14 and 15) with movie music from Frozen, The Wizard of Oz, La La Land and others.

Harry Potter vs Star Wars (March 18 and 19), with music by John Williams, Patrick Doyle and more.

Abbey Road, the final Beatles album, performed in all its orchestral glory Feb. 4.

Aretha: Queen of Soul (Jan. 13 and 14) pairs powerful vocalist Carpathia Jones with TFO.

The pops calendar also includes a salute to Rodgers & Hammerstein, a concert of Western themes, an all-Sinatra show, a night devoted to Academy Award music and the traditional holiday season performances.

 

The complete season

Season tickets are now available through The Florida Orchestra website.

Carmina Burana (Orff), Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Suites 1 & 2, Fri, Oct 7, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Morsani; Sat, Oct 8, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Oct 9, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Hollywood Sings, Fri, Oct 14, 8 p.m., Straz, Ferguson; Sat, Oct 15, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Michael Abels: Delights and Dances, Fri, Oct 21, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Morsani; Sat, Oct 22, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Oct 23, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Magic of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Sat, Oct 29, 2 p.m., Mahaffey Theater;  Sat, Oct 29, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater

Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov), Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite, Clara Schumann: Piano Concerto, with Alexandra Dariescu, piano, Sat., Nov 5, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Nov 6, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Brahms’ Violin Concerto, Gideon Klein: Partita for Strings, Dvorak: Symphony No. 8, with Stefan Jackiw, violin, Sat, Nov 12, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Nov 13, 2 p.m. Straz Center, Ferguson

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Grace Williams: Elegy, Michael Ippolito: Violin Concerto (world premiere) with Jeffrey Multer, violin, Fri, Dec 2, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson; Sat, Dec 3, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater;  Sun, Dec 4, 2 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Holiday Pops, Fri, Dec 9, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Morsani; Sat, Dec 10, 2 p.m., Mahaffey Theater – Matinee; Sat, Dec 10, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Dec 11, 2 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall; Sun, Dec 11, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Joshua Cerdenia: Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk), Wynton Marsalis: Tuba Concerto (with TJ Graf, tuba), Ellington: Black, Brown and Beige, Fri, Jan 6, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson ;  Sat, Jan 7, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Jan 8, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Aretha: Queen of Soul, Capathia Jenkins, vocalist, Fri, Jan 13, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson; Sat, Jan 14, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Jessie Montgomery: Records from a Vanishing City, Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3, Nancy Chang, violin Sat, Jan 21, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Jan 22, 2 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson

Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Elgar: Cello Concerto, with Maximilian Hornung, cello and Madison Leonard, soprano, Sat, Jan 28, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Jan 29, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Sat, Feb 4, 2 p.m., Mahaffey Theater – Matinee; Sat, Feb. 4, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Joyce Yang, piano), Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela, Sibelius: Symphony No. 5, Fri, Feb 17, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson; Sat, Feb 18, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Feb 19, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (Joyce Yang, piano), Carl August Nielsen: Symphony No. 4, “Inextinguishable,” Fri, Feb 24, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sat, Feb 25, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater ;  Sun, Feb 26, 2 p.m., Straz, Ferguson

Harry Potter vs Star Wars, Sat, Mar 18, 2 p.m., Mahaffey;  Sat, Mar 18, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater;  Sun, Mar 19, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, Joseph Bologne: Symphony No. 2, Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending, Ravel: Tzigane, with Tianwa Yang, violin, Sat, Apr 1, 8 p.m., Palladium Theater; Sun, Apr 2, 2 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson

Wild West, Sat, Apr 15, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Apr 16, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Sinatra and Beyond (Tony DeSare, vocalist), Sat, Apr 29, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, Apr 30, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Mendelssohn’s Elijah (with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay; Donnie Ray Albert, baritone), Fri, May 5, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson; Sat, May 6, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater; Sun, May 7, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

Wagner’s The Ring Without Words, Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 (Dejan Lazic, piano), Sat, May 20, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater ;  Sun, May 21, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall

A Night at the Oscars, Sat, May 27, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Ferguson

Also announced is the Thursday morning Coffee Concert series, held all season long at the Mahaffey Theater, with some Wednesday morning performances at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

 

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