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Musician concert picks: John Bannon

The Florida Orchestra musicians will play more than 130 concerts in the 2018/19 season, but which ones are they most looking forward to?  As the season gets ready to launch Sept. 28, here are concerts handpicked by Principal Timpani John Bannon.

Click on each title for more information.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
(Opening weekend Sept. 28-30)

My first concert as a principal timpanist was with the Anchorage Symphony in February 1970 celebrating the bicentennial of Beethoven’s birth. The program in 1970 was Egmont Overture and the Fifth and Seventh symphonies, a program that would challenge me now. Let’s say I learned a lot that time through it. (In the photo below, that’s John standing in the center back.)

Porgy and Bess selections
(On A Child of Our Time concert, Nov. 9-11)

We’re just doing highlights of this great American opera, all too rarely produced in its full magnificence. I played a concert version of the whole opera in Oklahoma City, and our Sportin’ Life was Cab Calloway, for whom the role was written. His improvisational style still inspires.

Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony
(Nov. 16-18)

I always look forward to major works that I haven’t played before. There are only a few a year for me.

Still’s Symphony No. 1 “Afro-American”
(On Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue concert, Jan. 4-6)

Also a new-to-me major work. I’m glad to explore our rich heritage of American voices from this artistic world between classical and folk/popular genres. The re-exploration of Harlem Renaissance always teaches me new things. I studied the work some recently and look forward to being inside it, to say nothing of renewing my friendship with Thom Wilkins, whose spirit always inspires me. (Wilkins is a former TFO resident conductor.) Also on this program is Dvorak’s Seventh, which to me is the most substantial Dvorak symphony – dark, powerful.

Baljinder Sekhon’s new work
(On The Planets concert Feb. 15-17)

I like Baljinder’s voice. I’ve intended to commission something myself. I consider him a friend and I appreciate him as a member of our community. I’m looking forward to the process of realizing whatever he brings us. (Sekhon teaches composition and electronic music at the University of South Florida School of Music.)

Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood
(On Mahler Symphony No. 1 concert, May 3-4)

Because of scheduling I may not be able to play this, but classic pure minimalism always sets me thinking. It’s almost Zen-like with a “what’s here is what’s here” quality. I’ve coached it but not played it. I love it when the audience starts getting it in real time.

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