ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The Florida Orchestra President & CEO Michael Pastreich, who transformed a
financially struggling orchestra into one of the most vibrant in the nation, is stepping down after more
than a decade, the orchestra announced today. He is the longest-serving CEO in TFO’s 50-year history.
“This is the right time,” said Pastreich, who took the helm in October 2007. “As I’ve reflected on an
astounding 50 th anniversary season, I see how far TFO has come in my nearly 11 years here, and I’m
proud and honored to play a key role in its success. Now it’s time to take a break, recharge and explore
my own opportunities. It’s an exciting world.”
During a decade of strategic leadership, Pastreich turned the orchestra around, taking it from nearly
insolvent to strong on every front. In the 50 th anniversary season, TFO celebrated artistic excellence,
record concert attendance, meaningful community engagement and an endowment that has grown
from $8 million to $21 million since Pastreich’s arrival. He leaves TFO in excellent shape and well poised
for the next 50 years.
Pastreich, who began a long-planned summer sabbatical July 1, will help with a smooth transition
through September. “As I began my time away and made this decision, my sabbatical seemed like a
natural opportunity for transition. I will still be available as needed.” In charge of the day-to-day running
of the organization is Interim President Sherry Powell, who has been an integral part of TFO’s success as
chief marketing officer for 12 years. She will work with oversight by the Board of Directors, led by Chair
Janet Paroo. The board is forming a search committee to identify Pastreich’s replacement, zeroing in on
TFO’s mission of excellence in the Tampa Bay community. Music Director Michael Francis, entering his
fourth season with TFO, will continue to lead the orchestra’s phenomenal artistic success, with
collaboration from General Manager Edward Parsons.
“I would like to congratulate Michael Pastreich for all he has achieved with TFO. His exemplary work
ethic and passionate leadership have been major reasons for the exciting position we are now in at the
end of our 50 th season,” Maestro Francis said. “Michael's legacy of success with TFO will enrich the
Tampa Bay community for generations, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to partner closely with
him for three seasons. Alongside all of our extraordinary talent on and off the stage, I will do all I can to
help build upon the outstanding foundation Michael has lovingly laid over 11 years. My wife, Cindy, and
I wish him and his family every success for the future."
During Pastreich’s tenure, TFO built one of the industry’s strongest artistic teams, led by the
internationally acclaimed Maestro Francis, Grammy Award-winning Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik,
and Tony Award-winning Principal Guest Conductor Stuart Malina. This spring, Pastreich also led
negotiations of a new three-year contract with the musicians’ union, which was reached four months
The Florida Orchestra’s CEO steps down
before the current agreement expires on August 31, 2018 and exemplifies his record of improved
musician relations, increased musician salaries and extended weeks of work during his tenure. TFO also
made its first major label recording, and returned to the radio airwaves on Classical WSMR for the first
time in more than a dozen years. Under Pastreich’s leadership, the orchestra introduced an annual
fundraising gala that has featured artists ranging from renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma to rock legend Sting. A
crowning moment of the 50 th anniversary season was the installation of a new state-of-the-art acoustic
stage shell at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
A strong advocate for collaboration, Pastreich established an array of innovative programs, including
launching the first major partnership between a U.S. orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of
Cuba. TFO also teamed up with the Tampa Bay Lightning in composing and recording its theme song Be
the Thunder. Focusing on TFO’s goal to broaden its reach into the Tampa Bay community, Pastreich
established a series of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including a collaboration with the Dr.
Carter G. Woodson African American Museum that features a chamber music series there. To
strengthen music education, TFO has created the first-in-the-nation Teaching Artist program with the
Pinellas County School District, and this summer launched a partnership with the University Area
Community Development Corporation’s Prodigy Cultural Arts Program, whereby the orchestra teaches
group violin classes to kids who might not have the opportunity any other way.
In addition to artistic growth, TFO’s finances significantly improved as ticket sales increased each season
of Pastreich’s tenure. A staunch advocate of making the arts affordable, Pastreich led the orchestra in a
bold Accessibility Initiative in 2011, which lowered ticket prices, streamlined packages and diversified
programming. That helped boost paid attendance, which increased 49% under Pastreich. To meet
robust audience demand, TFO added concerts to its subscription series for 10 consecutive seasons, as
the organization experimented with a wide variety of successful concert formats.
Pastreich leaves TFO at the end of an extraordinary 50th season, with an anniversary celebration that
included such highlights as a sold-out gala concert with rock legend Sting, and eight works by Florida
composers commissioned and premiered by TFO. During the anniversary season that concluded in May,
TFO set a record for ticket sales, with 125,700 paid seats. Add in free tickets and community concert
crowds, and the count climbs to more than 215,000 – almost half for free or nominal cost.
TFO’s Board Chair Janet Paroo commended Pastreich’s tenure: “I’m so grateful to Michael Pastreich for
his tireless dedication to TFO for more than a decade. When Michael joined us, we were struggling
financially and needed a leader who could help turn around our organization. With his guidance, we
grew stronger financially, and built an artistic team of conductors and musicians that perform at an
extraordinary level. Our commitment to musical excellence in the concert halls has yielded ever-
growing attendance, and our outreach into the community has spread our mission beyond the concert
halls. These are two of the defining legacies Michael will leave TFO. We wish him all the best in his next
The Florida Orchestra’s powerful momentum will continue long after Pastreich, who in 2014 was featured by
Musical America as one of 30 international arts leaders in their Profiles in Courage.
“I look at the many ways the organization has transformed between its 40 th anniversary, when I arrived,
and its 50 th , when I leave, with great pride. TFO has extraordinary leadership, and it will continue to
thrive. I have high expectations for its continued success, and look forward to enjoying concerts for
years to come. I will remain helpful in any way possible,” Pastreich said.
The Florida Orchestra will launch its 51 st season at the end of September with Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 5, led by Music Director Michael Francis. Season highlights include Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as
The Florida Orchestra’s CEO steps down
Time, The Planets, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Music of John Williams, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
and many more at concerts in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
About The Florida Orchestra
The Florida Orchestra is recognized as Tampa Bay’s leading performing arts institution, the largest professional
symphony orchestra in Florida, and one of the most vibrant and innovative orchestras in America. This is its 51 st
season. Under the leadership of Music Director Michael Francis, it performs more than 130 concerts a season, with
series of classical, popular, and morning coffee concerts in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as free
Pops in the Park concerts. Dedicated to bringing music to all people, connecting to the community is a priority, with
pre-concert talks, family and youth concerts and other educational activities. Kids and teens get in free to classical
Masterworks concerts with Classical Kids tickets. To buy tickets: floridaorchestra.org and 727.892.3337 or