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Art, ballet combine for TFO concert inspired by Museum of Fine Arts exhibit

When major organizations join forces, the arts come alive in fantastic ways. That’s what will happen this weekend when The Florida Orchestra combines artwork, music and ballet live onstage for a first-of-its-kind concert inspired by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg’s new exhibit, Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney. The concert will include new paintings by TFO Visual Artist-in-Residence Geff Strik, along with images of renowned artwork from the MFA exhibit on theater design.

“It’s our passion to unite the arts in our community, and this is our biggest collaboration yet,” said TFO Music Director Michael Francis. “When we fuse art, live music and more, we strike a spark that ignites unparalleled creativity, bringing the arts to life in ways we could never expect.”

At the center of the collaboration with MFA will be a Tampa Bay Times Masterworks concert under the leadership of Maestro Francis. These concerts in Tampa and St. Petersburg on Jan. 17-19 combine a lot of elements for a truly one-of-a-kind experience:

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Golden Cockerel: The performance will be enhanced with images from the MFA exhibit projected above the orchestra. All work is by artist Natalia Gontcharova, who did designs for The Golden Cockerel opera-ballet production in 1913-1914, produced by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre National de l’Opéra, Paris.

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3: This is likely the most well-known piece on the concert. Nothing projected on the screen, but pianist Gilles Vonsattel will be thrilling to watch all on his own. The Swiss-born American is in demand in concert halls around the world.

Stravinsky’s Pulcinella: The concert finale will be a showstopper. Audiences will be immersed in 25 paintings by TFO’s Geff Strik projected above the orchestra, 11 Tampa City Ballet dancers and three solo vocalists as Maestro Francis conducts. Strik’s work is based on Pablo Picasso’s original set designs, the story of Pulcinella and theatrical inspirations from around the world to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ballet’s premiere. Picasso’s painting of the original set design also is featured in the Art of the Stage exhibit at MFA. (Strik’s work is sponsored by Compass Land and Title, Oktane Media, Siecle des Lumieres, Kahwa Coffee Roasters and ArtExpo of St. Pete Beach.)

The dancers are from the Tampa City Ballet, a professional contemporary dance company founded in 2018 by Paula Nuñez, who is also its artistic director. Nuñez and Resident Choreographer Elsa Valbuena did the choreography.

The vocal soloists are Madison Leonard, soprano; Joshua Blue, tenor; and Kevin Deas, baritone.

Also, this concert opens with the impending silence by Orlando Jacinto Garcia, part of TFO’s series of Beethoven-inspired fanfares.

Opening at the MFA one week later, on Jan. 25, is Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney, which depicts the works of major painters who also designed for the stage, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Robert Indiana, and more, featuring more than 100 studies for scene, costume, curtain, and program designs. From the sumptuous productions of the Ballets Russes, to the riotous spectacle of avant-garde theater, to Robert Indiana’s Pop vision for an American opera, Art of the Stage reflects the grand history of Western art from the vantage point of the stage. The exhibit runs through May 10, 2020.

“In many ways, this first-of-its-kind collaboration between the MFA and TFO feels historic and completely contemporary at the same time,” said the MFA Associate Curator of Public Programs Margaret Murray. “These cross-organizational collaborations amplify each other’s artistry and bring new voices and a fresh vision to our crafts and our community.”

The MFA partnership also includes:

TFO Takeover of MFA
In spaces throughout the museum, small orchestra groups will perform music inspired by the Art of the Stage exhibit, under the baton of TFO Associate Conductor Daniel Black.
Sun, Jan 26, 12:30-4 pm, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
Musical tours led by Daniel Black and MFA docent start at 12:30 pm & 2:30 pm in MFA’s Conservatory
• 12:30 pm & 2:30 pm: Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings (Mvts. 2 & 4) and Mozart’s Violin Concert No. 5 (Mvt. 3) with soloist Jeffrey Multer (Conservatory)
• 1:05 pm & 3:05 pm: Satie’s Mercure, arranged by Birtwistle (Marly Room)
• 1:30 pm & 3:30 pm: Stravinsky’s Octet (Hough Gallery)
Included with museum admission; free for MFA members

TFO Concert at MFA
The Florida Orchestra does an intimate performance of Milhaud’s La Creation du Monde and Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, narrated by local actor Becca McCoy. Both works celebrate the artworks featured in the MFA’s Art of the Stage exhibit. Daniel Black conducts.
Wed, Feb 5, 2-4 pm, Marly Room, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
Included with museum admission; free for MFA members

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3
In partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
Michael Francis, conductor
Gilles Vonsattel, piano
Orlando Jacinto Garcia: the impending silence (world premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Golden Cockerel Intro/Wedding March
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
Stravinsky: Pulcinella (Ballet in One Act)
Fri, Jan 17, 8 pm, Straz Center, Morsani
Sat, Jan 18, 8 pm, Mahaffey Theater
Sun, Jan 19, 2 pm, Mahaffey Theater – Matinee
Tickets are $18-$48
Kids and teens get in free with Classical Kids tickets, available in advance.
Join Michael Francis for the Pre-concert Conversation 1 hour prior

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