Florida Orchestra cancels season due to coronavirus

Performances around Tampa Bay had already been shut down into May.
Conductor Michael Francis leads the Florida Orchestra during a dress rehearsal for Opening Night at the Straz Center on September 27, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.
Conductor Michael Francis leads the Florida Orchestra during a dress rehearsal for Opening Night at the Straz Center on September 27, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times ]
Published April 20, 2020|Updated April 20, 2020

The writing has been on the wall for weeks, but now it’s official: The Florida Orchestra is canceling the remainder of its season due to the coronavirus pandemic

After first suspending performances in March and April, then into May, the orchestra has decided to pull the plug on its 2019-20 season altogether.

"This decision is not what anybody wanted, but it’s clear this step is necessary for the safety of everyone,” Mark Cantrell, the orchestra’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “When the time is right, nothing will have more power and inspiration than The Florida Orchestra to bring us together again.”

The cancellation of the season will have an impact of a broad vision to perform all nine Beethoven symphonies, and plenty more of his works, during a two-year celebration of the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. Canceling the remainder of the season means the orchestra will not perform Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth symphonies this year.

The orchestra’s board had already voted to pay its musicians through the end of the season in late May. Since 40 percent of the orchestra’s revenue comes from live performances, they’re encouraging ticketholders to consider donating the cost of their previously purchased tickets. For other refund or exchange options, contact the orchestra’s box office at (727) 892-3337.

The Florida Orchestra has kept busy in quarantine, even connecting 43 musicians for record a remote performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Click here to read about it.

Other highlights from the orchestra’s now-finished 2019-20 season:

  • The season began in September with a program that sought to answer the question: “What is Tampa Bay?” Click here for a review of their opening night.
  • In the fall, the orchestra named St. Petersburg painter Geff Strik its first visual artist in residence. Their collaboration on October’s Don Quixote was among our favorite local stage events of 2019.
  • In December, music director and conductor Michael Francis became an American citizen. Click here to read about it.
  • In February, Broadway star Bernadette Peters headlined the orchestra’s annual gala at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Click here for our interview with Peters, and click here for our review of her performance.
  • And in their last weekend of performances before the coronavirus halted its seasons, the orchestra performed Sibelius’ Sympony No. 7, allowing us behind the scenes to see how musicians’ pencil annotations can have a huge impact on each performance. Click here for the story.

The orchestra has already unveiled its 2020-21 season slate, featuring several super-sized symphonies and much more Beethoven. Click here for the details.

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