TAMPA — The musicians of the Florida Orchestra had somebody new on stage with them Wednesday morning: Dave Andreychuk, the former star wing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Have any of you skated before?" Andreychuk called out to the youngsters trooping into the St. Pete Times Forum. "We can't skate today. There's no ice today."
Actually, there was ice beneath the fibreboard laid over the rink, where the stage and seating were set up for a youth concert, the first such affair held as part of a new collaboration between the orchestra and the Lightning.
The theme of the concert was teamwork. "It didn't just take me," said Andreychuk, referring to a video of a Lightning goal being scored on the jumbo video screens above the rink. "It took the whole team."
Teamwork is also important in the orchestra, he said, and introduced the principal oboist, Katherine Young, playing a solo from Wagner's opera Lohengrin. "Katy is playing the musical translation of me scoring a goal." Then the whole orchestra joined in on the piece.
Guest conductor Daniel Boico — with help from ThunderBug, the Lightning mascot — led a lighthearted, less than hourlong program. The orchestra played a Dance at the Gym excerpt from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (with the kids shouting out "Mambo!" at Boico's cue), the suitable Skater's Waltz and a Brahms Hungarian Dance to video of the Lightning.
One of the biggest rises from the crowd had come earlier, when Be the Thunder, the Lightning's new theme song recorded by the orchestra, played on the video screens.
Orchestra officials said about 4,500 students turned out for the concert, most of them from Hillsborough County elementary schools. The attendance was far less than the capacity of the Forum, which seats about 19,000, but the logistics and cost of organizing field trips can be daunting for schools. The concert was announced when the school year had already begun, and the participation of Pinellas County schools was hampered because Wednesday was an early-release day. The expense and availability of school buses was a problem for some schools.
"We're hoping we'll be able to do this again next year," said Angela Cassette, operations director of the orchestra. "I think we could fill this place."
In the spring the orchestra will give two days of youth concerts in more conventional settings at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.
Wednesday's concert wound up with the orchestra playing the exciting finale of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, with a great example of the fruits of teamwork shown on the video screens: Andreychuk hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2004.
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.