The Florida Orchestra's stagehands are going to have a busy weekend as they set up for a pair of unorthodox pieces. The program, with music director Stefan Sanderling on the podium, opens with Ives' Unanswered Question, with four flutes standing up front, the strings scattered around the stage, all standing except for cellos, and trumpet soloist Robert Smith playing from someplace out in the concert hall.
Then the setup gets really interesting for Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, which is scored for two groups of strings; a battery of percussion that includes xylophone, timpani, cymbals and snare drum; and piano, harp and celesta. They'll all be arranged around the stage in an unusual configuration, and the music is very spooky (it was used on the soundtrack of The Shining). Sanderling and the orchestra will benefit from expert input by Peter Bartok, the composer's son, who lives in Homosassa.
Also on the agenda, with conventional seating, is Dvorak's evergreen Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), which the orchestra is recording for possible broadcast, CD release, Internet streaming and downloads during the Saturday performance at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
Concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday at Ferguson Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa; 8 p.m. Saturday at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $20-$67. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286; floridaorchestra.org.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic