As the Florida Orchestra wraps up its revised 2020-21 season, it announces its 2021-22 season beginning in the fall. While the past season saw fewer musicians on stage, reduced audience size and shows at just one venue, the new season brings back a full symphony with full audiences at venues across Tampa Bay.
The season will kick off with the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series featuring a concert of two powerful masterpieces, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, conducted by music director Michael Francis. It runs Sept. 24-26 at three venues, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.
Concerts will continue to be streamed on the orchestra’s website. Season tickets are on sale now.
Francis said he chose Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for the opening concert because the piece gives the ultimate sense of darkness turning into light. He chose The Four Seasons because he sees the pandemic as a season and “now it feels like the ice is melting and we’re entering into a spring.”
Looking ahead in the Masterworks series, Francis will also conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Jan. 28-30, 2022) featuring its Ode to Joy chorus, performed by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. More selections include Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (Oct. 23-24), Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (Dec. 4-5), Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (May 21-22, 2022) and Mozart’s Requiem (May 13-15, 2022), which also features the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.
“We wanted to create epic moments, with some of the greatest, most glorious music,” Francis said.
He pointed out that by bringing in a group of “world-class soloists” for the Masterworks series, the Florida Orchestra “could rival any orchestra in the world.” The soloists include classical guitarist Milos performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (April 1-3, 2022) and violinist Augustin Hadelich performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (Nov. 13-14).
The Masterworks series also includes a healthy dose of diverse and contemporary composers. Crossover string trio Time for Three will perform the Florida premiere of Kevin Puts’ Triple Concerto (March 26-27, 2022), which was written for the group and co-commissioned by the Florida Orchestra. The season will open with another commissioned piece by Michael Ippolito, an acclaimed composer from Tampa who wrote the major work Triptych in honor of the Florida Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season in 2017-18.
All Masterworks concerts include a preconcert conversation about the program that begin one hour before the performance.
The Raymond James Pops series includes conductors Stuart Malina, Daniel Black and Enrico Lopez-Yañez. The series kicks off in October with Latin Fire, and brings the Music of Star Wars and Fly Dance Company: Breakin’ Classical, which features a dance troupe moving to classical music. The series also includes the popular Holiday Pops concert featuring Lumina Youth Choirs.
The Light Symphonic Morning Coffee series is led by Malina and will feature Classical America, Opera Overtures and Star-crossed Lovers, in which Francis will explore the music of Romeo and Juliet. The morning concerts happen in St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Community concerts also return in the fall, bringing back Pops in the Park at Vinoy Park. A full schedule of those concerts is being planned for the season and will be released over the summer.
While Francis said he is eager to return to a full orchestra, he’s proud of the way the Florida Orchestra’s current season brought the music back to audiences during the pandemic, minding health and safety precautions that included musicians getting COVID-19 tests three times a week. By the end of the season, which wraps up with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (May 22-23) and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (May 29-30), the orchestra will have performed 80 concerts.
Few orchestras across the country have returned to live performance.
“What we have done is quite remarkable,” Francis said. “No other orchestra has done what the Florida Orchestra has done. It’s one of the great success stories Tampa Bay has had.
“I’m so proud of the organization and the whole community in their support and passion,” he said. “I think our roots have gone deeper during this time.”
The 2021-22 season
The Florida Orchestra will make safety decisions based on the information at the time of the concerts. To see a full lineup of the season and to purchase tickets, visit floridaorchestra.org or call the box office at 727-892-3331.
Tampa Bay Times Masterworks Series
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (Sept. 24-26)
Symphonie Fantastique (Oct. 23-24)
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (Nov. 6-7)
Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition with Augustin Hadelich on Prokofiev (Nov. 13-14)
Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (Dec. 4-5)
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with Gershwin’s Piano Concerto (Jan. 8-9, 2022)
Karen Gomyo Plays Brahms featuring Debussy’s La Mer (Jan. 22-23, 2022)
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (Jan. 28-30, 2022)
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Stravinsky’s The Firebird (Feb. 19-20, 2022)
Time for Three: The Intersection of Americana, Pop and Classical (March 26-27, 2022)
Milos Plays Concierto de Aranjuez (April 1-3, 2022)
Mozart’s Requiem with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (May 13-15, 2022)
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 with Benjamin Grosvenor on Prokofiev (May 21-22, 2022)
Raymond James Pops Series
Latin Fire (Oct. 9-10)
Fly Dance Company: Breakin’ Classical with Stuart Malina (Oct. 30)
Holiday Pops Bob Bernhardt with Lumina Youth Choirs (Dec. 10-12)
The Wild West: In partnership with the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art (Jan. 14-15, 2022)
Music of Star Wars, themes composed by John Williams (Feb. 25-27, 2022)
The Paul Simon Songbook (March 13, 2022, one performance only)
America’s Wonders: A 3D Cinematic and Musical Celebration (March 19, 2022, one performance only)
Broadway Pops (April 8-10, 2022)
Superhero Soundtracks (April 29-May 1, 2022)
Coffee Series Light Symphonic Favorites
Bohemian Masters (Oct. 28)
Opera Overtures (Nov. 18)
British Gems (Jan. 13, 2022)
Star-crossed Lovers (Feb. 3, 2022)
Viva España (Feb. 23-24, 2022)
Classical America (March 16-17, 2022)
From Russia (April 6-7, 2022)
Changing Seasons (April 27-28, 2022)
Music of John Williams (May 4-5, 2022)