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Florida Orchestra unveils masterworks season programming

James MacMillan will conduct his The Sacrifice: Three Interludes in November.

Special to the Times

James MacMillan will conduct his The Sacrifice: Three Interludes in November.

Stefan Sanderling likens the task of programming the Florida Orchestra's masterworks season to a kind of cosmic balancing act.

"We serve so many gods here and try to find this very fine line,'' Sanderling said recently. "It's so difficult, and I think we have achieved it this time. There is enough stuff that is challenging, and there is enough stuff that is soothing in a certain way.''

The orchestra's music director was talking about the 2009-10 season of 14 masterworks programs, which is being released today along with the pops and coffee series. His balancing act seeks to include plenty of popular pieces that will sell tickets while also challenging the audience with less familiar, often contemporary music that might open some ears.

"The big challenge is how do we remain relevant, and that's not only because of the bad economic times,'' Sanderling said. "Do we remain relevant by playing the Dvorak Ninth Symphony and the Beethoven Fifth Symphony? You know that I love those pieces. But I believe also that this alone is not the way to success. I believe that we have to not only broaden our horizons here, but we also have to sustain our horizons, that our programming doesn't get narrower and narrower every year.''

The evergreen Dvorak Ninth and Beethoven Fifth are, in fact, on next season's schedule, as are staples like Ravel's Bolero and Brahms' Second Symphony. But the masterworks agenda also has some substantial works new to the orchestra, including Charles Ives' Symphony No. 3, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4 and Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round.

The most notable contemporary programming comes in November with James MacMillan's The Sacrifice: Three Interludes, conducted by the Scottish composer. A pair of stellar pieces by MacMillan, The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Veni, Veni Emmanuel, a percussion concerto, were previously performed by the orchestra.

"We're focusing on things that are important to us,'' Sanderling said. "We've played two pieces by James MacMillan, and now he's coming to conduct the third.''

Sanderling will conduct 10 of the masterworks programs. Along with MacMillan, the other guest conductors include two returnees — Gunther Herbig and Grant Llewellyn — and the debut of Estonian conductor Eri Klas, who will be on the podium for Estonian composer Arvo Part's Fratres, another notable contemporary work and a premiere for the orchestra.

The season opens with Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco, in a concerto to be announced, Oct. 9-11. Other guest artists include pianist Stefan Vladar in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, pianist Mikhail Rudy in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, cellist Julie Albers in Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 and violinist Elena Urioste in Mozart's Turkish Concerto. Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer will play Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and principal harp Anna Kate Mackle will be the soloist in Ginastera's Harp Concerto.

Sanderling will be on the podium with an unusual guest artist, a piano roll recording of George Gershwin playing the solo part of his Rhapsody in Blue. "Wait until you hear the encore,'' the music director said.

The meat and potatoes of symphonic repertoire won't be neglected, with Sanderling conducting Shostakovich (Symphony No. 6), Bruckner (Symphony No. 6) and Mahler (Symphony No. 3). The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay will join with the orchestra for Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah.

Pops concerts

There are changes in the pops series, with Richard Kaufman stepping down as principal pops conductor. Kaufman, who has held the job since the 2004-05 season, is pops music director of several other orchestras, including the Dallas Symphony. Potential successors include Jeff Tyzik, who will conduct a holiday program by the orchestra and Master Chorale next season, as well as a program of Broadway hits; and Matt Catingub, who will conduct a Valentine's program next weekend and a tribute to Ray Charles in 2010.

Next season's pops series features the return of Cirque de La Symphonie, the circus-themed program that played to sellout crowds last season, and an appearance by composer-pianist-conductor Marvin Hamlisch.

Coffee concerts

The orchestra's popular coffee series, with concerts on Thursday mornings at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, has been expanded from six to seven concerts. Alastair Willis again presides over the series' programming of light classics and excerpts from opera and standard symphonic repertoire, conducting six concerts. Grant Cooper, artistic director of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, will conduct one.

The orchestra continues to go without a full-time associate conductor, a post previously held by Susan Haig and Tom Wilkins. Instead it has Willis and other guest conductors to handle the coffee, youth and park concerts.

John Fleming can be reached at or (727) 893-8716.

Masterworks, Pops, Coffee

The Florida Orchestra plays in three main venues: Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Here are the schedules of the masterworks, pops and coffee series. To receive a brochure on the

2009-10 season, call (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.


Oct. 9-11: Marques: Danzón No. 2; Falla: El Amor Brujo (Ballet Suite); TBA: Concerto; TBA: Additional Work; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Manuel Barrueco, guitar

Oct. 23-25: Mahler: Symphony No. 3; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Women's Chorus of the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

Nov. 6-8: MacMillan: The

Sacrifice: Three Interludes; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 4; James MacMillan, conductor; Jeffrey Multer, violin

Dec. 4-6: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor); Bruckner: Symphony No. 6; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Stefan Vladar, piano

Jan. 8-10: R. Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks; R. Strauss: Death & Transfiguration; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 6; Stefan Sanderling, conductor

Jan. 29-31: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Mikhail Rudy, piano

Feb. 12-14: Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela; Sibelius: Symphony No. 5; Beethoven: Symphony No. 5; Stefan Sanderling, conductor

Feb. 26-28: Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice; Mozart: Symphony No. 38 (Prague); Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 1; Ravel: Bolero; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Julie Albers, cello

March 5-7: Webern: Passacaglia; Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished); Ives: Symphony No. 3 (The Camp Meeting); Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; George Gershwin, piano (Orchestra accompanies a piano roll performance by the composer from the 1920s)

March 19-21: Mendelssohn: Elijah; Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

April 17-18: Part: Fratres; Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, (Turkish); Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite; Eri Klas, conductor; Elena Urioste, violin

April 30-May 2: Ives: The Unanswered Question; Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion & Celeste; Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 (From the New World); Stefan Sanderling, conductor

May 14-16: Golijov: Last Round; Ginastera: Harp Concerto; Wagner: Siegfried Idyll; Beethoven: Symphony No 1; Grant Llewellyn, conductor; Anna Kate Mackle, harp

May 28-29: Schubert: Symphony No. 5; Brahms: Symphony No. 2; Gunther Herbig, conductor


Oct. 31-Nov. 1: Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra

Nov. 27-30: Classical Mystery Tour (Beatles tribute); Martin Herman, conductor

Dec. 11-13: Holiday Pops; Jeff Tyzik, conductor; Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

Jan. 22-24: Cirque de la Symphonie

Feb. 19-21: Tribute to Ray Charles; Matt Catingub, conductor; Ellis Hall, vocalist

Mar 13-14: Marvin Hamlisch, conductor and piano

April 10-11: A Century of Broadway; Jeff Tyzik, conductor; Christiane Noll, vocalist; Doug LaBrecque, vocalist

May 21-23: Classic James Bond; Carl Davis, conductor; Mary Carewe, vocalist


Note: Only selected movements will be performed for some of the works listed. Additional works and guest artists for these programs are to be announced.

Oct. 29: Symphonic Dances; Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake; Khachaturian: Sabre Dance; Copland: Rodeo: Hoe-down; Alastair Willis, conductor

Dec. 10: Opera's Greatest Hits; Verdi: Traviata, Prelude to Act III; Puccini: La Boheme; Rossini: The Italian Girl in Algiers Overture; Alastair Willis, conductor

Jan. 21: Last Night of the Proms; Sullivan: HMS Pinafore Overture; Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1; Ives: Variations on America (God Save the Queen); Alastair Willis, conductor

Feb. 18: Music Around the World; Sibelius: Finlandia; Berlioz: Hungarian March; Grant Cooper, conductor

March 11: Romantic Bohemia; Smetana: Moldau; Brahms: Hungarian Dances; Dvorak: Slavonic Dances; Alastair Willis, conductor

April 8: Russian Extravaganza; Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture; Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture; Rachmaninoff: Vocalise; Alastair Willis, conductor

May 20: Wonderful Waltzes; Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty; Rodgers: Carousel; Strauss: Blue Danube; Alastair Willis, conductor

Florida Orchestra unveils masterworks season programming 02/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 7, 2009 3:30am]
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