American music is on the lineup for The Florida Orchestra’s 2023-24 season. Music director Michael Francis was inspired by the 100th anniversary of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” so he programmed a season that highlights American composers together with masterpieces from heavyweights including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.
“It’s important to celebrate America’s own musical art form,” Francis said in a news release. “This season we’ll take audiences on a journey across America’s musical landscape, as we explore our musical roots and where we are today...We remain passionate about reflecting the different cultures that make up Tampa Bay and beyond.”
The orchestra holds its concerts at St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater, Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.
The season kicks off Sept. 30 with the Masterworks concert, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” featuring the Percussion Collective and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.
American composers featured in the Masterworks series include Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” on Oct. 21-22. The program features Grammy-nominated baritone Jubilant Sykes performing American spirituals.
On Feb 17-18, 2024, it’s Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” with pieces by Wynton Marsalis, Mason Bates and Leonard Bernstein in the program.
More notable concerts in the series include Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6″ with Valentin Silvestrov’s “Prayer for Ukraine” (Jan. 19-20, 2024) and Beethoven’s “Eroica Symphony” with John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra” (April 5-7, 2024). The season ends with Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony,” featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (May 25-26, 2024).
Among the season’s guest artists is Jonathon Heyward of the Baltimore Symphony, who is the only Black music director of a major U.S. symphony. He’s conducting Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4″ on Jan. 6-7, 2024.
For the first time, all of the Masterworks concerts will include a surprise, unlisted piece programmed by Francis.
The Pops series begins with Cirque Dances, which brings aerialist/contortionists Troupe Vertigo to perform, conducted by Daniel Black (Oct. 7-8). Resident conductor Chelsea Gallo helms Women Rock featuring the music of Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and others (Nov. 3-4). She also conducts Twist and Shout: The Music of the Beatles on March 1, 2024.
The popular Holiday Pops concert returns, conducted by Bruce Hangen, former guest conductor of the Boston Pops, featuring the Tampa Oratorio Singers.
The Morning Matinee series features light classical favorites by guest conductors, including Morihiko Nakahara with the program Mythic Masterpieces. It includes Beethoven’s ”Creatures of Prometheus” and Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” (Nov. 29-30).
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For the full lineup and more information, visit floridaorchestra.org.
How to get tickets for The Florida Orchestra’s new season
Season tickets for all of the 2023-24 series are on sale now at floridaorchestra.org, or by calling the Ticket Center at 727-892-3337. Packages available. Questions regarding tickets can be emailed to email@example.com. The Ticket Center is at 244 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. (Saturday hours are by phone and email only.) Single tickets go on sale July 31.