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Pianist Jeremy Denk changes Florida Orchestra program a week before concert

Pianist Jeremy Denk is the Florida Orchestra's featured soloist this weekend. Photo by Michael Wilson
Published Oct. 17, 2016

Jeremy Denk Plays Ravel, a Florida Orchestra concert, was to open this weekend at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

But due to a phone call to the orchestra late Friday, the concert has a new title: Jeremy Denk Plays Mozart. Denk's manager called around 4:30 p.m. Friday to request the programming change, citing the celebrated pianist's busy schedule not allowing for adequate preparation time. Denk was originally to play Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, a piece played with just one hand.

"The Ravel was a new work for him," said orchestra general manager Edward Parsons, who negotiated the request with representatives of Denk and guest conductor Karina Canellakis. "He wanted to give our audiences the best quality performance that he can."

The parties reached a resolution hours later. Denk will play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20. Soloists sometimes cancel appearances due to illness, but it has been at least a decade since someone switched out a concert program this late in the game, Parsons said.

"Obviously it's a less than ideal situation for everyone," he said, "so there were discussions about what would be the best piece to do that is in both of their repertoires so that everyone feels comfortable."

A winner of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship who performs regularly with the country's top orchestras, Denk is renowned for playing Mozart, and Piano Concerto No. 20 is one of the composer's most popular. The orchestra will issue refunds to ticket holders who expected to hear Ravel, but Parsons advised against it.

"Jeremy Denk plays Mozart better than just about anybody," he said.

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


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