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From one blank canvas to innovative ‘Don Quixote’ concert

Sometimes it helps to have a visual, especially when telling a story. Enter Geff Strik, TFO’s first-ever visual artist-in-residence.

For our upcoming performance of Strauss’ Don Quixote, Strik started with the musical score, covered in handwritten notes from Michael Francis, and 29 sketches. When he picked up his paintbrush, he used only one 10-by-5-foot canvas, painting each scene on top of the other – the earlier works hidden underneath.

But they’re not totally gone. The whole process was captured through video and carefully crafted into a 42-minute, high-definition art film synchronized to the music, which Maestro Francis will conduct live on stage.

The result is an innovative, visually stunning concert that audiences can see only one weekend in October, only at The Florida Orchestra.

The visionary new multimedia experience will fill the big screen, with The Florida Orchestra on stage underneath, at concerts Oct. 11-13, 2019, in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The concert also features internationally acclaimed cello soloist Maximilian Hornung, as well as Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony (a rare performance of the Mahler version).

The film was created locally, with support from the community. It was produced by Siècle des Lumières, LLC, with Executive Producers Phil Yost and Geff Strik. It is supported and sponsored by Compass Land and Title, Kahwa Coffee Roasters, Liz and Todd Birge, and Oktane Media, including Ken Park. Additional photography work was done by Steven Le (

Strik set out to do his own interpretation of Strauss’ Don Quixote, based on Cervantes’ novel that has inspired writers, artists and composers for hundreds of years. Richard Strauss composed his tone poem for cello and orchestra in 1897, representing Don Quixote musically through the cello (Hornung) and Sancho Panza through the viola (Principal Viola Derek Mosloff).

TFO’s commitment to this kind of innovation, collaboration, and accessibility is why TFO named Strik as our first-ever visual artist-in-residence.

“Innovation is a key part of what we do. It’s in our DNA,” said Mark Cantrell, TFO President & CEO. “We believe no other American orchestra is doing anything like this at this level. We are leading the way, giving audiences new ways to engage with the music.”

This project is TFO’s second collaboration with Geff Strik, an internationally acclaimed French artist now living in St. Petersburg. Last season, a multimedia experience with live orchestra told the story of Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night (Verklarte Nacht), based on a poem by Richard Dehmel. The performance received a standing ovation all three nights.

In connection with this concert, The Dalí Museum will host Don Quixote, Dalí & The Florida Orchestra, a free event featuring Dalí Museum Director Dr. Hank Hine moderating a discussion with Maestro Francis and Strik about how they developed the multimedia experience. The event will include a talk about Salvador Dalí’s Don Quixote illustrations along with live music by TFO guest artist cellist Maximilian Hornung on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 10:30 am at The Dalí Museum.

TFO’s new season is brimming with more collaborations and multimedia concerts, including rare photos and video with Revolution: The Music of the Beatles – A Symphonic Experience in October; a partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, and the Tampa City Ballet in January; film concerts with live orchestra; and more.

If you go
With an overarching theme of heroism, the concert pairs Strauss’ Don Quixote with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica” – the heroic – on Oct. 11-13 in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.

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