Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Next season sees several guests on podium for Florida Orchestra

In 2012-13, Stefan Sanderling will begin to make his prolonged exit as music director of the Florida Orchestra, and possible successors will start making their appearances as guest conductors. That's the gist of the orchestra's announcement today of repertoire and guest artists for next season's masterworks, pops and coffee concerts.

Sanderling, in his second-to-last season as music director, will conduct 10 of the 14 masterworks programs, beginning with the opening program Oct. 12-14. It includes three works new to the orchestra: Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety; Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte; and Karl Amadeus Hartmann's Symphony No. 2. Piano soloist Sara Davis Buechner will be featured in the Bernstein and Schoenberg works. Beethoven's Egmont Overture is also on the season-opening agenda.

During his nine seasons with the orchestra, Sanderling has focused on several composers, such as Sibelius, Bruckner and Mahler, and that continues in 2012-13, with his programs that include the Sibelius Symphony No. 4, the Bruckner Symphony No. 2 and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth).

Sanderling will also be on the podium for a collaboration with American Stage. Actors with the theater company will perform scenes from Shakespeare plays in tandem with Tchaikovsky works inspired by the bard.

With Sanderling due to step down, the assumption is that every guest conductor is a potential candidate for music director. Gerard Schwarz is the best-known guest conductor, having been music director of the Seattle Symphony for 26 years. Schwarz, a onetime trumpet player with the New York Philharmonic, will conduct Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, and Dvorak's Symphony No. 7.

Mozart's Requiem, the Master Chorale's other masterworks performance with the orchestra, will also be done under a guest conductor, Xian Zhang, a young Chinese woman with a busy career in the United States and Europe.

The other two guest conductors are Rossen Milanov, a Bulgarian and music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey, whose program includes Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, and Tito Munoz, a New York native and former associate conductor with the Cleveland and Cincinnati orchestras who will lead the Beethoven Symphony No. 7.

Violinist Karen Gomyo, who has been featured in concertos by Prokofiev and Shostakovich in previous seasons, returns to play the Brahms Double Concerto, with cellist Christian Poltera. Another returning soloist is German pianist Peter Rosel, who will play Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2. German soprano Barbara Krieger will make her debut with the orchestra in the Prelude and Liebestodt from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

Several principals from the orchestra will be up front as soloists, including concertmaster Jeffrey Multer in Sibelius' Violin Concerto; violist Ben Markwell in Joseph Jongen's Suite for Viola and Orchestra; and flutist Clay Ellerbroek in Lowell Liebermann's Flute Concerto.

The 2012-13 pops series opens Nov. 2-4 with a Gershwin program, featuring singer Sylvia McNair, pianist Kevin Cole and tap dancer Ryan Van DenBoom, Sarah Hicks conducting. Hicks will also conduct a Cuba-themed pops program that features the seven-member band Tiempo Libre, based in Miami. This should fit in nicely with the orchestra's cultural exchange with Cuba, which has several developments in the works, likely to be announced in the next month or so.

The pops series has eight programs. Along with Hicks, two other guest conductors are making multiple appearances. Jeff Tyzik will conduct a program of movie music and a tribute to Harlem's Cotton Club, featuring trumpeter Byron Stripling. Victor Vanacore will be on the podium for programs of swing dance tunes and Broadway scores, with singer Steve Amerson.

Stewart Malina will be a frequent conductor of the orchestra in 2012-13. In his second season as coffee series conductor, he will be on the podium for six of the seven programs. Seven of the morning concerts of light classics will be played at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and three at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Malina will also conduct a holiday pops program, featuring the Master Chorale.

The orchestra offers a variety of subscription series for masterworks programs, plus the pops and coffee series. It will continue to play masterworks concerts on three Friday mornings at Mahaffey. Ticket prices, drastically lowered this season, remain at $15, $30 and $45 per ticket for masterworks and pops concerts; coffee concert tickets range from $24 to $42 apiece. Details of the programming can be found at www.floridaorchestra.org.

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

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