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Instrumental measures

Stefan Sanderling wants the Florida Orchestra to lighten up. For the season brochure, Sanderling is pictured in not the standard-issue tuxedo but a baggy white linen suit and black T-shirt, looking more like a lounge singer than the music director of a symphony orchestra.

This weekend, when the orchestra plays its first masterworks program of the season, Sanderling will inaugurate an experiment that he hopes will bring fresh listeners to symphonic music. It's a series of Saturday morning concerts at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater that the orchestra is calling "Stefan's Sneak Peeks."

"It's a shortened program, just the main piece and something else, very informal. I'll talk a little about the music, the rehearsal process," Sanderling said.

The concert, at 11 a.m. Saturday, will include Richard Strauss' tone poem Don Juan and Mozart's Jupiter Symphony and run about an hour. Those works plus two others _ Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14 and Strauss' Burleske, both featuring pianist William Wolfram _ will make up the full masterworks program, to be heard Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.

Saturday morning's concert will be the first of four this season. With the casual approach and tickets for $15 per concert or $45 for a package of all four, the orchestra is hoping to draw younger people in between their weekend errands.

"It's an effort to get people to put their toes into classical music, people that are a little intimidated," marketing director Jan Hickin said. "It's a very difficult thing to market, but if the audience catches on, it could be incredible."

Offbeat ideas are becoming the norm with symphony orchestras desperate to cultivate new audiences. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a Saturday morning series, hosted by the local National Public Radio station, that has been successful.

In Tampa, there is a new night for masterworks concerts, Monday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, an effort to bring some consistency to the schedule. The preferred, 2,500-seat Morsani Hall has frequently not been available to the orchestra because the center gives priority to lucrative Broadway tours and other presentations. Now, instead of playing a crazy quilt of dates divided between smaller Ferguson Hall and Morsani, the orchestra has opted to be in the main hall on Monday nights for its centerpiece masterworks programs.

A Monday night concert is a tough sell. In a survey of ticket buyers last season, the orchestra found that Monday was the least popular night of the week for a concert. Masterworks subscription sales are down by 25 percent in Tampa.

But there really was no choice, since Monday is the one night that Broadway shows don't perform, allowing the orchestra to get into Morsani, TBPAC's best hall acoustically, on a more or less regular basis.

The orchestra and TBPAC are trying to make Monday attractive. The performance starts a half-hour earlier, at 7:30 p.m. Ticket holders get a $5 discount at the center's restaurant, Maestro's. Sandwiches and beverages will be sold for Sanderling's preconcert talk, at 6:30.

"We're trying to come up with ideas so people who work in downtown Tampa won't have to drive back and forth from home," Sanderling said. "My preconcert talk will be in a relaxed atmosphere, maybe a cocktail party or something like that."

The switch to Monday nights in Tampa led to another change. The time of Saturday night concerts at Mahaffey has been moved up to 7:30, so it'll be the same time as at Ruth Eckerd Hall and TBPAC.

Sanderling paired Strauss and Mozart on the opening program to communicate a sense of celebration. "There is a certain similarity between Strauss and Mozart," he said. "Both were great opera composers, but there is also this rococo element to their music. The phrasing of it, the elegance of it. We wanted to have something enthusiastic to start the season."

Sanderling will conduct 11 of the 14 masterworks programs, highlighted by heavyweights such as the Shostakovich Eighth Symphony, the Bruckner Seventh Symphony and the Mahler Fourth Symphony. He'll be joined by his cellist-brother, Michael, in a program that includes Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2.

Associate conductor Susan Haig leads a program of Mendelssohn's Fifth Symphony, Carlos Chavez's Sinfonia India and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Jon Kimura Parker. Former music director Jahja Ling returns to lead two programs, including Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 and Bernstein's Serenade, with soloist Robert McDuffie. In a special concert, violinist Pinchas Zukerman is conductor and soloist in an all-Beethoven concert.

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay celebrates its 25th anniversary with Bach's B-minor Mass, conducted by Richard Zielinski. The Master Chorale also performs Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.

Last season, the orchestra slashed musicians' pay in an effort to balance its $7.5-million budget, but there was still a deficit of at least $250,000. The bottom line will again take priority.

"Everything is done with one eye on the box office," Sanderling said. "We need to have the money because our budget is so tight now. One bad concert and we feel it."

The orchestra is banking on a Rachmaninoff festival to bring in the crowds. Three consecutive masterworks programs in January will include all four of the piano concertos plus the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with soloists Lilya Zilberstein, Nikolai Lugansky and Kirill Gerstein.

The ever-popular Rachmaninoff is not exactly cutting edge, but Sanderling thinks that focusing on a single composer, no matter how familiar, can yield unexpected insights. "I find the piano concertos great music," he said. "Have we heard maybe (Concerto Nos.) Two and Three and the Rhapsody too often? Possibly. But not One and Four. So there's something new to it."

THE 2004-2005 FLORIDA ORCHESTRA SCHEDULE

Tickets may be purchased through the Florida Orchestra box office: (813) 286-2403 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or anytime online: www.floridaorchestra.org. Prices for Masterworks and evening pops concerts range from $15.50 to $50.50; Morning Coffee concerts are $15.50 to $28.50; Blue Jeans family concerts are $18 for adults, $10 for students; Sunday matinees at River Ridge are $21.50 to $26.50. Stefan's Sneak Peek's are $15.

SATURDAY

Stefan's Sneak Peek

Conductor Stefan Sanderling talks about what it takes to put a concert together, with selections from the upcoming Masterworks performance. 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

SATURDAY THROUGH MONDAY

Masterworks: Strauss & Mozart

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; William Wolfram, piano

R. Strauss: Don Juan and Burleske for Piano and Orchestra; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 14, K. 449 and Symphony No. 41, Jupiter.

Preshow talk one hour prior to concerts, which are 7:30 p.m. Saturday, St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall; and 7:30 p.m. Monday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

OCT. 8-10

Songs My Mother Taught Me: A Salute To Judy Garland

Susan Haig, conductor, Lorna Luft, vocalist

Lorna Luft salutes her mother, Judy Garland, with songs such as The Bells Are Ringing, Trolley Song, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Rock-A-Bye Your Baby, plus anecdotes and video images.

8 p.m. Oct. 8, TBPAC; 8 p.m. Oct. 9, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10, REH.

OCT. 14-15 AND 24

The French Connection

Susan Haig, conductor; Anna Kate Mackle, harp

Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso, Ibert's Escales (Ports of Call), Debussy's Claire de lune and Ravel's Introduction & Allegro. 11 a.m. Oct. 14, Mahaffey; 11 a.m. Oct. 15, TBPAC; 3 p.m. Oct. 24, Center for the Arts at River Ridge, New Port Richey.

OCT. 17

Blue Jeans Classics: Dance Around the World

Susan Haig, conductor

The Mexican Hat Dance, Enesco's Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1, Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, a Strauss polka and waltz, Irish reels, Latin samba and more. Local dance groups are featured; instruction offered. As with all Blue Jeans family concerts, you may bring your own food and beverages.

Doors open 6 p.m.; concert 7:30 p.m. at the Coliseum, St. Petersburg.

OCT. 20

Broadway Nights: "Les Miserables' to "Phantom of the Opera'

Guest vocalists TBA. 8 p.m., TBPAC, $15.50-$50.50

OCT. 22

Pops In The Park

Susan Haig, conductor

Free outdoor concert of familiar classics, marches and pop tunes, in Tampa's Plant Park. (Picnicking is welcome at all outdoor concerts). 7 p.m.

OCT. 23

Concert With Fireworks

Susan Haig, conductor

Free outdoor concert of familiar classics, marches and pop tunes, in St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, 7 p.m.

OCT. 30-NOV. 1

Masterworks: Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8

Stefan Sanderling, conductor

Haydn: Symphony No. 94, Surprise, Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

7:30 p.m. Oct. 30, Mahaffey Theater; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, REH; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, TBPAC.

NOV. 6-8

Masterworks: Bach's B-Minor Mass

Richard Zielinski, conductor

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

7:30 p.m. Nov. 6, Mahaffey Theater; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7, REH; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, TBPAC.

NOV. 12-14

Music That Inspired a Nation

Richard Kaufman, conductor

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II with The White Cliffs of Dover, I'll Be Seeing You, hits by Glenn Miller and more. 8 p.m. Nov. 12, TBPAC; 8 p.m. Nov 12, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14, REH.

NOV. 15

Florida Orchestra Chamber Players

8 p.m. in the 200-seat Great Room at Ruth Eckerd Hall. $24.

NOV. 18-22

Masterworks: Tchaikovsky' s Piano Concerto No. 1

Susan Haig, conductor

Jon Kimura-Parker, piano

Chavez: Symphony No. 2, Sinfonia India; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1

7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, REH; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22, TBPAC.

DEC. 3, 5 AND 9

'Tis The Season For Colorful Music

Susan Haig, conductor

Berlioz's Overture to Beatrice and Benedict, Sibelius' The Swan of Tuonela, and Respighi's The Pines of Rome, plus seasonal favorites. 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at TBPAC. 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at River Ridge; 11 a.m. Dec. 9 at Mahaffey.

DEC. 7

A Musical Extravaganza at Saks Fifth Avenue

Meet principal pops conductor Richard Kaufman and associate conductor Susan Haig, mingle with musicians performing in various ensembles. Enjoy wine, hors d'oeuvres and shopping. Proceeds benefit the orchestra's HeartStrings program. 6-9 p.m.; $50 per person advance; $60 at door. WestShore Mall, Tampa.

DEC. 10, 12 AND 13

Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah

Susan Haig, conductor

Gary Anderson and Bob Christianson's gospel-jazz version of Messiah, with choir.

8 p.m. Dec. 10, TBPAC; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12, REH; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13, Mahaffey.

DEC. 18

Blue Jeans Classics: Celebrate the Holidays

Susan Haig, conductor

Highlights from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, sing-along of seasonal songs, plus performance with the Pinellas Youth Symphony's Serenade Strings. Doors open 6 p.m./concert 7:30 p.m., the Coliseum, St. Petersburg.

DEC. 19-20

Many Moods Of Christmas

Richard Zielinski, conductor

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

Yuletide favorites along with highlights from Handel's Messiah, including the Hallelujah Chorus. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Mahaffey.

DEC. 31

New Year's Eve Gala: Ultimate Tango

Dining, dancing to the music of the orchestra, fireworks, and more at the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel, St. Petersburg. 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets $500 and $350.

JAN. 8-24

ROCK WITH RACHMANINOFF FESTIVAL

JAN. 8-9

Masterworks: "Rocky' II & IV

Stefan Sanderling, conductor

Lilya Zilberstein, piano

Ravel: La Valse; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4

7:30 p.m. Jan. 8, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9, REH.

JAN. 15-17

Masterworks: "Rocky' I

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Nikolai Lugansky, piano

Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

7:30 p.m. Jan. 15, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16, REH; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17, TBPAC.

JAN. 22

Stefan's Sneak Peek

Conductor Stefan Sanderling talks about what it takes to put a concert together, with selections from the upcoming Masterworks performance. 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

JAN. 21, 22 AND 24

Masterworks: "Rocky' III

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Kirill Gerstein, piano

Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte, Daphnis et Chloe, Suite No. 2; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21, REH; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, TBPAC.

FEB. 1

Free Side By Side Concert

Susan Haig, conductor

The Pinellas Youth Symphony plays alongside musicians of The Florida Orchestra in an open rehearsal and informal concert. 7 p.m., Mahaffey.

FEB. 2

Beethoven Bash with Pinchas Zukerman

The violinist conducts and plays this all-Beethoven concert. 8 p.m., Mahaffey.

FEB. 4-6

Larry Elgart Hooked on Swing

The saxophonist conducts and plays Take the A Train, Puttin' on the Ritz, In the Mood, Just In Time, Cheek to Cheek, many more. 8 p.m. Feb. 4 at TBPAC, 8 p.m. Feb. 5 at Mahaffey, 2 p.m. Feb. 6 at REH.

FEB. 10, 12 AND 14

Masterworks: Beethoven's Eroica

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Demarre McGill, flute

Corigliano, Pied Piper Fantasy, Concerto for Flute and Orchestra; Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, Eroica. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, REH; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at TBPAC.

FEB. 17

Morning Coffee: Can You Beat This?

Susan Haig, conductor

Highlights from Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, Haydn's MilitarySymphony, and Brahms Symphony No. 4, plus work featuring the percussion section. 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

FEB. 18-20

Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin Hamlisch, conductor & piano

8 p.m. Feb. 18 at TBPAC, 8 p.m. Feb. 19 at Mahaffey, 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

FEB. 22

Free Side By Side Concert

Susan Haig, conductor

The Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra plays alongside musicians of The Florida Orchestra in an open rehearsal and informal concert. 7 p.m. at TBPAC.

MARCH 5

Stefan's Sneak Peek: Roll Over Beethoven

Conductor Stefan Sanderling talks about putting together the upcoming Masterworks concert, with selections from the program. 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

MARCH 5-7

Masterworks: A Family Affair

Stefan Sanderling, conductor

Michael Sanderling, cello

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture; Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2; Dvorak: Symphony No. 7 in D minor. 7:30 p.m. March 5, Mahaffey, 7:30 p.m. March 6, REH; 7:30 p.m. March 7, TBPAC.

MARCH 10-11

With a Song in My Heart

Susan Haig, conductor; Katherine Weintraub, alto saxophone; singers TBA

Arias by Verdi, Wagner and Puccini. 11 a.m. March 10, Mahaffey; 11 a.m. March 11, TBPAC. Preshow talk one hour prior to concert.

MARCH 11, 13 AND 14

Music of the Islands

Richard Kaufman, conductor; principal percussionist John Shaw and the Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra

Sounds of Hawaii, Jamaica, Tahiti, Cuba, with music from South Pacific, Mutiny on the Bounty and more. 8 p.m. March 11 at TBPAC; 7:30 p.m. March 13 at REH; 7:30 p.m. March 14 at Mahaffey.

MARCH 19-21

Masterworks: Bruckner's Symphony No. 7

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin

Plus Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3. 7:30 p.m. March 19, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. March 20, REH; 7:30 p.m. March 21 TBPAC.

APRIL 2-4

Masterworks: Grieg's Piano Concerto

Jahja Ling, conductor; Arnaldo Cohen, piano.

Plus Mendelssohn's The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave) and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. 7:30 p.m. April 2, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. April 3, Ruth Eckerd Hall; 7:30 p.m. April 7, TBPAC.

APRIL 7 AND 10

Season Highlights 2005-06

Stefan Sanderling, conductor; Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin

11 a.m. April 7, Mahaffey; 3 p.m. April 10, Center for the Arts at River Ridge

APRIL 8

Opera's Greatest Hits

Susan Haig, conductor; Erin Wall, soprano; The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Richard Zielinski, artistic director

Arias, love songs and more. 8 p.m., Mahaffey.

APRIL 16-18

Masterworks: Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake'

Jahja Ling, conductor; Robert McDuffie, violin

Plus Dvorak's Carnival overture, Bernstein's Serenade.

7:30 p.m. April 16, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. April 17, REH; 7:30 p.m. April 18 TBPAC.

APRIL 21-23

Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles

With members of Beatlemania performing Penny Lane, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, many more.

8 p.m. April 21, REH; 8 p.m. April 22, TBPAC; 8 p.m. April 23, Mahaffey

APRIL 29 AND 30

Masterworks: Beethoven & Belshazzar's Feast

Stefan Sanderling, conductor

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

Ran: Vessels of Courage and Hope; Beethoven: Symphony No. 8; Walton: Belshazzar's Feast

7:30 p.m. April 29, REH; 7:30 p.m. April 30, Mahaffey.

MAY 5

Invitation To The Dance

Susan Haig, conductor

Simone Avaral, dancer/choreographer

Weber's Invitation to the Dance, and highlights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Ginastera's Estancia ballet and more; 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

MAY 7

Blue Jeans Classics: Hollywood & All That Jazz

Susan Haig, conductor

Song and dance hits by Scott Joplin, Percy Grainger, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Leroy Anderson. Doors open 6 p.m.; concert 7:30 p.m., the Coliseum, St. Petersburg

MAY 8

Free Concert With Fireworks

Susan Haig, conductor

Familiar classics, marches, pop tunes. 7:45 p.m., Coachman Park, Clearwater

MAY 13-15

Monica Mancini: Songs of My Father

Including Moon River, The Days of Wine and Roses, Dear Heart, Charade. 8 p.m. May 13 at TBPAC; 8 p.m. May 14 at Mahaffey, 7:30 p.m. May 15 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

MAY 21

Stefan's Sneak Peek: Gusto With Gustav . . . Mahler, That Is

Stefan Sanderling, conductor, talks about putting a concert together, plus highlights from the upcoming Masterworks performance. 11 a.m., Mahaffey.

MAY 21-24: Masterworks

Mahler's Symphony No. 4

Stefan Sanderling, conductor

plus Schubert's Symphony No. 8, Unfinished

7:30 p.m. May 21, Mahaffey; 7:30 p.m. May 22 REH; 7:30 p.m. TBPAC.

The Florida Orchestra kicks off its season this weekend. Front row, from left: Anna Kate Mackle, harp, Natasha Bazhanov, violin, and Erika Shrauger, clarinet. Middle row, from left: John Shaw, percussion, Richard Sparrow, French horn, Warren Powell, viola, and Toula Bonie, violin. Back row, from left: Alison Heydt, viola, and Martin Hebert, oboe.

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