Sunday, December 17, 2017
Features and More

Florida Orchestra taps Stuart Malina as principal guest conductor

Stuart Malina, who just completed his first season as conductor of the Florida Orchestra's morning coffee concert series, has added a title to his resume. Malina is now principal guest conductor as well as coffee conductor for the orchestra, beginning with the 2012-13 season.

"What it means, basically, is that I'll be spending two or three more weeks a season with the Florida Orchestra than I am currently," Malina said Thursday from Harrisburg, Penn., where he has been music director of the Harrisburg Symphony since 2000. "I'll be conducting two or three concerts a season in addition to the coffee series."

Malina was a finalist for the principal pops conductor position to which Jeff Tyzik was named two weeks ago. He doesn't have any hard feelings — quite the contrary, in fact.

"I'm delighted it worked out the way it did," Malina said. "I feel like I do wonderful pops concerts, but Jeff really is a pops conductor and brings not just experience and ability but an incredible library of his own arrangements. In many ways, this position suits me better than the other because it gives me a wider variety of music to conduct."

For the orchestra, the appointments of Malina and Tyzik are intended to help fill the void as music director Stefan Sanderling says his long goodbye. Sanderling announced last year that he will be leaving after the 2013-14 season. He will continue to lead most masterworks programs, but there will also be prospective music directors appearing as guest conductors as part of the search for a successor.

"During these periods, it's easy for an orchestra to lose a sense of having a figurehead," Malina said. "Between Jeff and me I think we can bring a little stability and sense of calm to an organization making changes."

Malina, 49, enjoyed his first full season with the orchestra. "It always makes me feel pleased to be with an orchestra that takes what it does seriously, and they care profoundly what the product is," he said. "It's an environment I like working in. I get a real sense of fellowship within the orchestra. They pride themselves as the Florida Orchestra and they want it to be as good as it can be."

His first coffee concert in the upcoming season is a program of nationalistic pieces (Sibelius' Finlandia, Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, et al.) Nov. 1 at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

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