Florida Orchestra returns to full concerts in Tampa Bay

The season kicks off with Beethoven’s ‘Fifth’ and Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons.’
Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis welcomes the crowd back last year. The 2021-22 orchestra season is about to start with pandemic precautions still in place.
Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis welcomes the crowd back last year. The 2021-22 orchestra season is about to start with pandemic precautions still in place. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Sept. 21, 2021|Updated Sept. 21, 2021

The Florida Orchestra kicks off its 2021-22 season Sept. 24-26, returning to a full symphony after performing with a fraction of musicians last season. Concerts will also return to traditional lengths, with audiences at full capacity. More venues also return: Performances will take place at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Related: The Florida Orchestra announces its 2021-22 season

Health and safety measures are still in place for patrons, musicians and staff and “continue to be top priorities,” according to a news release announcing the season. Masks covering the nose and mouth will be required for patrons and staff, regardless of vaccination status. All musicians, conductors, guest artists and backstage staff will be fully vaccinated. The Straz Center is requiring guests to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for all of its shows.

Mark Cantrell, the Florida Orchestra’s president and CEO, said in the release that working with the venues’ different requirements offers options for patrons. People who can’t meet the Straz Center’s requirements can exchange their ticket for another venue or different concert without a fee. To do so, email

Opening weekend comes with a bang, as music director Michael Francis conducts Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in the first installment of the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series.

“I cannot wait to give that first downbeat and hear the Florida Orchestra back in full power,” said Maestro Francis in the news release. “I am prouder than ever to lead a symphony orchestra that builds community and, week after week, provides a sanctuary for you to listen to the world’s most inspiring music.”

The world premiere of a new work by Tampa native Michael Ippolito opens the concert.

A pay-what-you-can concert, Inside Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, will take place 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg (253 Fifth Ave. N). Maestro Francis and concertmaster Jeffrey Multer will tell the story behind Vivaldi’s work before a full performance.

Three performances of Handel’s Messiah featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay have been added to the schedule, Dec. 17-19. The date of an upcoming family concert has been moved from Oct. 3 to Jan. 16, 2022, at the Straz Center. It features works by Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov and Strauss and explores music with themes of nature. It replaces the Play Me a Story concert originally scheduled for that day.

The season features more than 100 performances, ranging from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 to the Music of Star Wars to the rock stylings of Elton John and Billy Joel.

“This season’s blockbuster lineup builds on the momentum of last season — thanks to our patrons and donors,” Cantrell said in the release.

Single and season tickets are on sale now. Prices vary. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit

If you go

The Florida Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Fifth with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons 8 p.m. Friday at the Straz Center, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The orchestra’s box office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. 727-892-3337.