For the first time, the Florida Orchestra will go on the road with a new program of community residencies across Florida, the orchestra announced Monday. They'll target smaller communities in Avon Park, Daytona and Gainesville.
Starting in early 2017, musicians will spend several days performing and connecting with residents in three Florida communities picked because of their limited access to a major professional orchestra. The project targets the Avon Park area of Highlands County, Daytona in Volusia and Gainesville in Alachua County.
The residencies will include the full Florida Orchestra in youth concerts for public school students; side-by-side concerts with students and amateur musicians; and community concerts performed in a hospital, park or mall. In all, the residencies will bring symphonic music and education to at least 15,000 people. Most events will be free.
The orchestra offered Francis the job of music director in 2014. One of his first moves was to put on a free concert at the end of that year at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. The show for patients, employees and anyone who stopped by marked a shifting orchestra culture toward community involvement, and more such events followed.
"The effect of our community engagement in Tampa Bay has been dramatic, from hospitals to schools, from malls to parks. What we've seen and heard has been so rewarding and uplifting that we want to share it and help enrich these other vibrant communities in Florida," Francis said in a statement. "The power of live music on people's lives is truly extraordinary."
The affected communities cheered the news.
"This is a fantastic cultural opportunity for the Volusia County community and an exciting educational experience for Volusia County schools music students," Monty R. Musgrave, performing arts specialist with Volusia County schools said in the statement. "We are eagerly looking forward to participating in this collaboration with The Florida Orchestra."
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