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5 reasons to fall in love with the new season

We’ve announced our new season for 2018/19!

Expecting a bit of a letdown after our grand 50th anniversary celebration? Don’t. Music Director Michael Francis has put an enormous amount of thought into programming every concert in our most wide-ranging season yet, which starts in the fall. “It’s our first chance to show where we’re going as an orchestra in our new era,” he said.

Looking beyond the big-name works – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – there’s so much more to adore.

Here’s the inside scoop on 5 Tampa Bay Times Masterworks concerts you’ll fall in love with.

A Child of Our Time (Nov. 9-11)

Don’t know it? Understandable. This is the first time TFO will perform Michael Tippett’s oratorio, featuring The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.

What’s to love: A beautiful work with a meaningful story. Tippett, a pacifist, was inspired by Kristallnacht when he composed the oratorio, so it was a natural choice to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the “Night of Broken Glass” in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum. “The piece shows Tippett’s desire to find a new path away from confrontation, away from war,” Francis said. “It’s extraordinary as a dramatic, powerful, brand-new piece for the audience to hear, but it’s also very accessible, beautiful and memorable.” The work is paired with selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, with a similar theme of oppression.

The Planets (Feb. 15-17, 2019)

You probably know Holst’s The Planets, but this concert includes a hidden gem that is dear to Michael Francis’ heart: music as a living art form. He and his wife, Cindy, are sponsoring a new work by University of South Florida Associate Professor Baljinder Sekhon, as yet unnamed.

What’s to love: When Francis programs a season, his mission is two-pronged: explore the Masterworks in a new light and discover new music. “We are a vibrant orchestra for the 21st century,” Francis said. “It’s important that we stay absolutely fresh and treat music as a living art.” Right now, he is focused on commissioning only Florida talent. “We’re showing that as the third biggest state, we have an incredible artistic voice.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Feb. 22-24, 2019)

Everybody can hum Mendelssohn’s famous “Wedding March” from this work, but the orchestra will go all out to perform a complete and enhanced version based on William Shakespeare’s play.

What’s to love: Pretty much nothing excites Francis more than collaborating with local organizations, because it uses music to unite the community. The plan is to have singers and actors join the orchestra for a different kind of experience. “This is a great opportunity for local arts organizations to celebrate each other and the Tampa Bay community,” Francis said.

Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 (March 29-31, 2019)

Even if you’re already a fan of the Brahms, the rest of this program is more awesome than you realize.

What’s to love: First of all, Michael Francis is stoked about working with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor in his TFO debut. “He is one of the great talents of our time. He’s now playing with all the major orchestras — and he’s coming to play with us.” This concert also features an unusual approach to Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, based on the poem by Richard Dehmel during Schoenberg’s passionate, romantic stage before he turned to atonal music. The orchestra will perform the beautiful, 25-minute piece mostly in the dark with the poetry on screen, synched to the music. “It will be deeply atmospheric and powerful,” said Francis, who added that the piece was a huge success when he conducted it in Sweden.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (May 3 & 4, 2019)

No matter what you think of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, you’re sure to love the two percussion pieces on this program: Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood and Andrew Norman’s Switch, featuring pioneering classical percussionist Colin Currie.

What’s to love: There’s an impressive percussion setup stretching across the front of the stage for Switch, with Currie constantly on the move. “Switch is an enormous percussion concerto that is ridiculously virtuosic and visual to watch. Colin Currie is outstanding,” Francis said. “Audiences will love it.” The description of Music for Pieces of Wood might not seem interesting – 5 percussionists hit blocks of wood for 8 minutes – but hang in there. “It’s completely hypnotic. When you see it live, when you’re in the moment, you hear this thing slowly change and you hear the pattern. It takes you to a totally different world. You’ll go ‘Wow, that was amazing.’ ”

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