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Florida Orchestra presents free concerts in September, beyond

If catching the Florida Orchestra soon is on your priority list but can't quite grab the top spot, the orchestra has just made your life easier.

The orchestra is launching a round of free concerts in September, part of an emphatic community outreach under music director Michael Francis. During "TFO on the Go," Francis will lead the orchestra in performances for patients and staff of St. Joseph's-North Hospital, the Moffitt Cancer Center and Tampa General Hospital. Smaller chamber groups will appear at places like the Pinellas Park Boys and Girls Club, retirement homes and veterans centers.

Some concerts are not open to the public, but several coming up soon are for everyone. They include chamber performances at Tampa International Airport, 3 Daughters Brewing and Green Bench Brewing Co. Sept. 21 and 22.

Francis leads the full orchestra Sept. 24 at the week's finale, a Heritage Concert in the Park at Tampa's Water Works Park. The orchestra will play Mambo from West Side Story, Lecuona's Malagueña, Piazzolla's Oblivion. Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez is performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Erin Horan, whom the orchestra recently hired as its community engagement director, is overseeing TFO on the Go, the first event of its kind for the orchestra.

Efforts such as these are "a powerful way for a community to come together and explore its identity," Horan said in a news statement. She comes to the orchestra from the Austin Opera.

This month's events represent one of several programs bringing orchestra musicians from the concert stage to other venues. Others include the "Free Pops in the Park" concerts, the kid-friendly "family concerts" and a pair of pay-what-you-can "Inside the Music" presentations by Francis, which combine lecture with demonstrations by the orchestra.

The orchestra is also reprising Sing Out! Tampa Bay, a community sing-along led by Francis; six kid-friendly Saturday morning family concerts, which include story time and an "instrument petting zoo"; and Sunday afternoon chamber music at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.

More than 170,000 people saw the orchestra perform last season, half of those at free community concerts. The season opens Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the Mahaffey Theater and Ruth Eckerd Hall. Francis will lead the orchestra with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

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