The Florida Orchestra's search for a new music director will continue during the 2013-14 season, with five conductors making debuts in masterworks programs with the orchestra. They will be joined on the schedule, which is released today, by seven conductors in return engagements. All 12 of the guest conductors on the schedule are presumably candidates for artistic leadership of the orchestra.
Since last spring, when Stefan Sanderling decided to make an early exit as music director, the orchestra has been lining up potential successors.
One of the first-time conductors, Evan Rogister, will lead the season-opening program Oct. 11-13 that includes Beethoven's iconic Ninth Symphony, with a vocal quartet and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. Rogister, a North Carolina native, has experience with major opera companies such as Deutsche Oper Berlin, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Four of the guest conductors on next season's schedule — Marcelo Lehninger, Cristian Macelaru, Joshua Weilerstein and Gerard Schwarz — have made generally good impressions in masterworks programs in the current season. Two of the 2013-14 conductors — Rossen Milanov and Tito Muñoz — are still to be heard from this season.
The seventh returnee, Teddy Abrams, has conducted coffee and pops programs and will be on the podium for his first masterworks program. It features one of the season's leading soloists, British pianist Stephen Hough, who will play the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1.
Other guest conductors new to the orchestra next season include Joan Carneiro, music director of the Berkeley Symphony in California; Michael Francis, chief conductor of Sweden's Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra; and Daniel Hege, music director of the Wichita Symphony.
Mei-Ann Chen is another newcomer on the masterworks schedule, though the Taiwan-born conductor led Shostakovich's Festive Overture with the orchestra in 2008 when she was winner of the Taki Concordia Fellowship, a program founded by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop to encourage female conductors.
Several members of the orchestra will appear as soloists in 2013-14. Concertmaster Jeff Multer will play the Bartok Second Violin Concerto, and principal cellist James Connors will be featured in the Elgar Cello Concerto. Principal flute Clay Ellerbroek (on alto flute) and principal harp Anna Kate Mackle will be out front in Takemitsu's Toward the Sea II. Principal percussionist John Shaw will be the soloist in Tan Dun's Water Concerto. Both the Takemitsu and Dun works are premieres for the orchestra.
There are 16 premieres for the orchestra on its 2013-14 agenda, including dances from Thomas Ades' opera Powder Her Face; John Adams' Chamber Symphony; Red Cape Tango by Michael Daugherty; Radical Light by Steven Stucky; and Roberto Sierra's Concierto Barroco with guitar soloist Manuel Barrueco. The season also has a new work by David Rogers, former artistic administrator with the orchestra.
Former music director Sanderling will return for a masterworks program in March with the Rogers piece, Sibelius' Symphony No. 4 (surprisingly, to be played for the first time by the orchestra) and soloist Markus Groh in Bartok's First Piano Concerto. Stuart Malina, principal guest conductor of the orchestra, will lead a program featuring violin soloist Caroline Goulding in the Korngold Violin Concerto.
Standard repertoire figures prominently in next season's programming. Among the highlights are Mahler's Symphony No. 1, Titan (conducted by Muñoz), an all-Beethoven program led by Lehninger, Ravel's ballet score Daphnis and Chloe (with Weilerstein) and Tchaikovsky's Pathétique symphony (Macelaru). Schwarz is in charge of a program that includes David Diamond's Symphony No. 4 and Schoenberg's orchestration of Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor.
On the orchestra's pops side, principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead five of the eight programs in his first full season, opening with the acrobats, jugglers, contortionists and strong men of Cirque de la Symphonie Oct. 25-27. Other pops highlights include an Irish program with vocalist Cathie Ryan and her Celtic band and dancers; clarinetist Dave Bennett and his sextet paying tribute to Benny Goodman; Broadway performer Debbie Gravitte in songs associated with James Bond and other big-screen sleuths; and a holiday program with the Master Chorale.
The coffee concert series, with seven of the eight programs conducted by Malina, has the orchestra playing a prodigious amount of music in the morning, from Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra to Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires to symphonic selections from The Music Man to Respighi's Fountains of Rome. And it all comes with free coffee and doughnuts.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.