Make us your home page

Review: Orchestra's morning concert a medley of dance tunes

ST. PETERSBURG — Perry So is the latest guest conductor to go in front of the Florida Orchestra as a potential candidate to become its new music director, a process that has played out this season and will likely continue at least through 2013-14.

The Hong Kong-born So led the orchestra Friday morning at Mahaffey Theater, and he showed poise in circumstances that were less than ideal for making a great impression. Music in the morning can be sublime, as well as popular, as demonstrated by the success of the orchestra's coffee concerts, which are often sold out at Mahaffey. But these morning masterworks concerts have been a tougher sell, with a sparse turnout of several hundred on Friday. It felt like a glorified dress rehearsal. Things may improve next season when the concerts will begin an hour later at 11 a.m.

Whether by design or happenstance, So's program resembled a coffee concert, featuring a half dozen pieces on a dance theme and some talk from the podium. Hungary supplied a subtheme, with works by a pair of iconic composers from that musical country — Kodaly's Dances of Galanta and Bartok's Dance Suite — plus Brahms' arrangements of Hungarian Dances. The youthful conductor had the musicians in a different configuration than usual, with the violas seated on the outside of the orchestra to his right, with the cellos inside them toward the center. Maybe the thinking was to bring out some prominent viola in the Bartok.

With other works by Dvorak (Slavonic Dances), Bernstein (dances from On the Town) and John Adams' The Chairman Dances, the program felt a bit overstuffed, and So's remarks went on too long. But his conducting was assured, elegant and animated at the same time, with broad, expressive gestures.

The highlight was the foxtrot from Adams' opera Nixon in China, a rare outing for the orchestra in music by America's greatest living composer. So, who brought an interesting perspective to the work on President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972 ("We've never heard the opera in China, where it is completely banned"), gave a good account of its chirpy winds, gradually changing harmonics in the strings and kinetic percussion.

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

.if you go

Program repeats at 8 p.m. today at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $15-$45, with $10 tickets for students, educators and military. (727) 892-3337 or 1-800-662-7286;

Review: Orchestra's morning concert a medley of dance tunes 04/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Directors of Haunted Mansion doc talk bringing piece of Disney history to Orlando


    Filmmakers Ryan Grulich and James H. Carter II aren't just casual fans of The Haunted Mansion ride. They're obsessed.

    Publicity still from the Foolish Mortals documentary.
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 20


    Mumford and Sons: The enormously popular English rockers make their first stop in Tampa. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $41.25-$61.25. (813) 301-2500.

    MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 13:  Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons performs on the "What" stage during the 2015 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 13, 2015 in Manchester, Tennessee.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
  3. How to vamp out for Buffyfest in St. Petersburg

    Music & Concerts

    Who's your favorite superhero? I always answer Buffy.

  4. The Mill restaurants offering half off when customers donate items for hurricane relief


    The Mill restaurant in St. Petersburg and its newly-opened location in Brandon are collecting donations to help residents of the Florida Keys who've been affected by Hurricane Irma.

    The dining room at The Mill in St. Petersburg photographed in 2015.
  5. Key performances and a sizzling script elevate Heather Theatre's 'Disgraced'


    TAMPA — When you step into the world of Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar's taut drama centered on two couples at a Manhattan dinner party, you never feel secure about where you sit. No one really can.

    Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, centers around two New York power couples clashing over politics and identity.