Mark Sforzini has high hopes for the Tampa Bay Symphony. "I think it has the potential to be one of the finest community orchestras in the country," said Sforzini in a phone interview Wednesday.
This week, Sforzini was named music director and conductor of the 26-year-old orchestra of about 80 volunteer musicians that performs a series of fall, winter and spring concert programs in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa.
Sforzini, 42, is going to be busy. He is also artistic and executive director of St. Petersburg Opera, which will be putting on four productions in the 2012-13 season. He's a former principal bassoon with the Florida Orchestra and was music director of the Pinellas Youth Symphony from 1999 to 2002.
"Scheduling is already an issue," said Kurt Klotz, president of the Tampa Bay Symphony and a French horn player. "It's going to be a challenge because of conflicts with Mark's other commitments, but he was the overwhelming choice of our musicians and audience members."
Sforzini was one of three guest conductors under consideration as music director who led concerts by the symphony this past season. The others were John Bannon, principal timpanist with the Florida Orchestra, and Susan Bailey Robinson, music director of the Pinellas Youth Symphony.
With Sforzini leading both the opera and symphony, there could be some synergy. "Down the road I think there might be interesting ways in which the symphony can collaborate with the opera company on projects here and there to good effect for both organizations," he said. "I think there will be some cross pollination."
Sforzini, who has a three-year contract, succeeds Jack Heller, a University of South Florida music professor, who led the community orchestra during its entire 25-year history until retiring a year ago.
Along with conducting and playing bassoon, Sforzini is also an accomplished, prolific composer, with several high-profile commissions to his credit. "I guess Mark Sforzini the composer is going on the back burner for a while," he said, acknowledging the demands of being music director for two organizations. "We might hear a Sforzini piece or two from time to time by the Tampa Bay Symphony."
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.