Thursday, August 16, 2018
Stage

Young pianist shines at Tampa Bay Symphony's 'Dances, Dreams and the Danube'

CLEARWATER

In his time in the 19th century, Franz Liszt was a rock star. The handsome Hungarian impressed the world as perhaps its best pianist, and also for his dazzling compositions.

His passionate piano compositions are considered challenging to play. In its current concert, the Tampa Bay Symphony has chosen a program that highlights the composer's virtuosity, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1. Pianist Mina Mijovic proved Sunday that she is more than equal to the job.

The volunteer orchestra, now in its 29th season, kicked off the first of three concerts at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College (the remaining two are in St. Petersburg and Tampa) with a hat tip to the Romantic era: Dances, Dreams and the Danube. It's an interesting thing to see, in part because the symphony is still not as well known as it might be.

Music director and conductor Mark Sforzini is an energetic promoter of the symphony, urging audience members to buy season tickets. While the symphony is not remotely near the level of a professional orchestra, it is worth hearing, precisely because its members are not paid.

The sizeable arts auditorium at St. Petersburg College was not close to full Sunday, but there were hundreds of people there. Some of the musicians who filled the stage might make a late entrance here or there or hit a flat note on the strings, but they also had their moments.

Mijovic was another story. The most recent winner of the Tampa Bay Symphony's Young Artist Competition, she arrived in August from her native Belgrade, Serbia. At 21, she has already won multiple competitions.

Her attack on the piano concerto was full throttle, hitting all four movements with great technical skill and every last ampere of energy. The breakneck fourth movement, full of rapid octaves and gutsy leaps, brought out her best. Mijovic is working on her second master's degree at the University of South Florida. She already has a masters from the University of Arts in Belgrade. She said in a recent interview with me that she is working as hard as she can to break into the next level, and there is every reason to believe she will.

The concert began with Johann Strauss Jr.'s On the Beautiful Blue Danube and concluded with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Suite from Swan Lake. The symphony at times struggled with the timing of the waltz, but expressed its fullness with much gusto. In comments from the conductor to the audience, Sforzini struck a conversational tone, at one point reminding them not to applaud between movements.

"If you're sitting there wondering, 'Am I supposed to clap here?' it's not a good place to clap," he said.

Just as Mijovic sat at the piano to perform, the ring tone from someone's phone went off.

"That is not part of our concerto," Sforzini deadpanned to the crowd. When the concert ended, musicians mingled with the audience near the stage. Some seemed mildly euphoric and relieved over a job well done, and rightly so.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
What’s on stage: Countdown Improv Festival, comics Michael Coylar and Alonzo Bodden

What’s on stage: Countdown Improv Festival, comics Michael Coylar and Alonzo Bodden

SAY YES: COUNTDOWN IMPROV FESTIVAL Since its debut in Tampa last year, the 3-2-1 Improv Festival has grown in size and scope, adding acts and changing its name. Now the Countdown Improv Festival, this three-day celebration of spontaneity brings 39 gr...
Published: 08/15/18
Jobsite brings back 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' while celebrating 20 years

Jobsite brings back 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' while celebrating 20 years

The first come-to-Jesus meeting kicked off in November, as the Jobsite Theater faithful sipped beer and wine at a local pub and tried to come to grips with the future. This was, of course, inextricably tied up with its recent past, a season that sta...
Published: 08/14/18
A serious, if flawed, effort highlighting PTSD in Innovocative’s ‘Ugly Lies the Bone’

A serious, if flawed, effort highlighting PTSD in Innovocative’s ‘Ugly Lies the Bone’

TAMPA — A veteran of three tours of duty in Afghanistan returns home, her face disfigured in an explosion and dragging a stiff leg. Titusville, the Space Coast town where Lindsey Ferrentino set Ugly Lies the Bone, is reeling, too, from cutbacks to NA...
Published: 08/12/18
Updated: 08/13/18
This week: Innovocative Theatre presents PTSD drama, ‘Ugly Lies the Bone’

This week: Innovocative Theatre presents PTSD drama, ‘Ugly Lies the Bone’

INNOVOCATIVE THEATRE: UGLY LIES THE BONEAn improvised explosive device injures a veteran on her third tour of Afghanistan. She tries to get her life back in Titusville, but the road isn’t easy for Jess, her caregiver sister or her ex-boyfriend. Innov...
Published: 08/08/18
Live Oak Theatre announces 2018-19 season

Live Oak Theatre announces 2018-19 season

BROOKSVILLE — Live Oak Theatre Company has announced the 2018-19 season of shows and audition dates.The season includes three productions:• Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, will be presented weekends, Nov. 2-18.• It’s a Wonderful Life ra...
Published: 08/06/18
Florida Orchestra names Daniel Black as new assistant conductor

Florida Orchestra names Daniel Black as new assistant conductor

ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Orchestra has hired conductor Daniel Black to share an increased workload in community concerts and other special programs."As our community programs expand, it’s time to make sure they have the unique guidance they deser...
Published: 08/03/18
Updated: 08/06/18
Hawk & Wayne, Steve Byrne and more — improv and comedy thrive in the summer

Hawk & Wayne, Steve Byrne and more — improv and comedy thrive in the summer

HAWK & WAYNE: KARAOKE-PROVImprov keeps going in the summer when everyone else is dark. (They don’t have the same demands as other theaters, and they’re a free-spirited bunch.) For the past nine years, Ricky Wayne, left, and Gavin Hawk, two of the are...
Published: 08/02/18
Lateness, fighting, phones: Seven etiquette violations to avoid at the theater (and a few to disregard)

Lateness, fighting, phones: Seven etiquette violations to avoid at the theater (and a few to disregard)

You might recall the evening of Nov. 8, 2016. Millions of Americans watched election returns coming in, including what seemed like every third audience member attending opening night of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The soft glow...
Updated one month ago
Amid ‘Hamilton’ frenzy, Straz season tickets sell out for the first time in history

Amid ‘Hamilton’ frenzy, Straz season tickets sell out for the first time in history

TAMPA — Since the announcement that Hamilton would come to Tampa in February, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has fielded inquires from hundreds of customers eager to get seats for the mega-hit musical. How much will thos...
Updated one month ago
Spring Hill playhouse presents Singin’ in the Rain Jr.

Spring Hill playhouse presents Singin’ in the Rain Jr.

SPRING HILL — A classic musical made famous by Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor will come alive this weekend when the youth production of Singin’ in the Rain Jr. is presented at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd.The...
Updated one month ago