Saturday, June 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Florida Orchestra 2015-16 season is a journey through America

For his first season leading the Florida Orchestra, the silken thread running through the selections is not what you might expect from British conductor Michael Francis:

America.

"One of the visions is looking at America as a cultural icon, both in terms of the compositions produced by Americans and composers who were influenced by Americans," Francis said.

The Florida Orchestra announced its 2015-16 season today, packed with red, white, blue and all shades in between. That includes artists who immigrated to America during their careers, bringing influences from their home countries while attempting to find an expressly American sound.

"It was such a beacon for artists around the world," Francis said. "I really just want to take a look at that. Not in an over-the-top way of just American music, but sort of gently weave it into the season."

In the 14 masterworks programs from October to May 2016, expect to hear selections that work toward this idea, including Copland's Appalachian Spring (Feb. 19 and 20, 2016), which Francis lauds for both its respect for simplicity and its "sense of expansiveness and open landscapes."

That program also includes Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Shai Wosner, who stepped in at the last minute for an ill Peter Serkin this season, and ends with Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 6, a postwar piece that begins with a "primal scream" and progresses into the shockingly quiet last movement.

"You're left feeling like you witnessed the aftermath of the nuclear holocaust," Francis said. "It almost feels like a child lonely, walking around, trying to find his parents. He's staring into the abyss and saying 'There's nothing there.' "

Copland also factors into the season opener (Oct. 2-4), with his Symphony No. 3, which recalls the theme in Fanfare for the Common Man. It fills out a program of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Valentina Lisitsa, whom Francis worked with in 2013 to record the complete Rachmaninoff piano concertos.

The orchestra will perform Rachmaninoff's cantata The Bells with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (Nov. 6-8), based on the writing of American poet Edgar Allan Poe. It is paired with Rouse's Prospero's Rooms and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Others to watch for include Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (Oct. 23-25), Handel's Messiah (Dec. 4-6), Mozart's Symphony No. 39 (Jan. 22-24), Haydn's Symphony No. 96 and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 (April 1-3, 2016) and Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite (April 15-17, 2016).

And it wouldn't be a Michael Francis season without a little (or big) something British. In this case, it's Elgar's Enigma Variations (Nov. 13-15).

"I thought it was important that I brought something from my homeland," he said. "I mean, I'm very at home in America. But I'm still English."

POPS STARS: Francis is leaving his imprint on the pops series, kicking it off by conducting A Night at the Oscars, featuring music from Lawrence of Arabia, Rocky, The Lord of the Rings and the James Bond movies (Oct. 9-11).

Principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik and guest conductors will conduct the rest of the pops concerts, including a Halloween program with songs from Sweeney Todd and Jekyll and Hyde (Oct. 30-31), and jazz artist Curtis Stigers paying tribute to the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra (Nov. 20-22).

PERMISSION TO ROCK: All together now — "Roooxxxxxxaannne." The orchestra will perform songs from Led Zeppelin (Oct. 16), U2 (Jan. 29) and the Police (May 6, 2016).

Contact Stephanie Hayes at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.

Comments
Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

It’ll still be June when Boy George arrives in Florida this week to kick off a summer U.S. tour with Culture Club. But the LGBTQ icon says it won’t feel quite like a Pride parade. "I also bake cakes for straight people," he laughed. "Tha...
Published: 06/22/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week: • Comedy Get Down with Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and George Lopez, 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, $25-$125, on sale at 10 a.m....
Published: 06/20/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanIt’s been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But he’s about to make up for lost time. On Saturday he’ll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Get ready to break out your finest purple during this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday.A night celebrating Prince, led by proteges Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time, will be among the highlights of this year's 39th annual Jazz Holiday, Oct. 18-21 i...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

— Alice in Chains are heading back out on the road, and they're coming to Orlando. They'll play the House of Blues on Oct. 27. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.— Gospel great Israel Houghton is coming to the Straz Center on Oct. 12. ...
Published: 06/19/18
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Published: 06/19/18
XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

The last words posted to XXXTentacion's Instagram Stories on Monday afternoon: "planning a charity event for this weekend Florida!"Whatever it was, it would have been huge. The 20-year-old singer-rapper was among the biggest — and most controve...
Published: 06/18/18
SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

— Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is returning to the Ritz Ybor on Sept. 27, with Atlas Genius opening. Tickets start at $26.50. Click here for details.— Also coming to the Ritz Ybor in September: South Florida rapper (and a new member of X...
Published: 06/18/18
George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

Nothing like outdoor comedy on a mid-November night in Florida, right?Okay, so it's not a club or theater or even an arena, and it rarely hosts comedy shows of any kind. Still, the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre will bring a host of fans when t...
Published: 06/18/18