By Daryn Bauer
TFO Community Engagement Manager
From the moment you walk into the Straz Center on Friday, Florida will come to life through art and music.
Fourteen works of art, all inspired by Florida, will be displayed in the Morsani lobby by the Life Enrichment Center for the Arts (LEC). The featured artists are based in Tampa and take classes at LEC, using various mediums to illustrate the place they call home.
Located in the heart of the Forest Hills neighborhood of Tampa, LEC offers more than 20 art, health, and wellness classes for adults each week. Now it its 37th year, the center’s mission is for students to fulfill their lifelong creative potential through the ageless engagement of the arts. The LEC believes that lifelong learning is a crucial component as we age. Research shows that learning a new skill, especially after the age of 40, has a dramatic positive impact on our memory, happiness, and overall health. It can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, too.
The artwork will be on display only at the Straz on Friday, though The Florida Orchestra also performs in St. Petersburg and Clearwater this weekend. You can see the works before the concert and during intermission, as TFO highlights Florida connections this season.
Friday is also the world premiere of the fifth and final commission in TFO’s Florida Fanfare Project, celebrating the orchestra’s 50th anniversary. The concert will open with a short work called Fanfare for Three Cities by Manuel de Murga, associate professor of music at Stetson University in Deland. It takes inspiration from the three cities where The Florida Orchestra most often performs: Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
“The number 3 ends up playing a key role in the piece,” de Murga explains. “There’s a melody that makes three appearances and features three sections of the orchestra. But it’s not literal. It’s more about the No. 3 and its recurrence.”
The fanfares are co-commissions of faculty composers from universities around the state. “It’s the orchestra’s mission to serve music as a living art form, not just to play the old dead masters,” said Edward Parsons, TFO’s general manager. “There’s a lot of vibrant new music out there, music that’s a part of our modern life. So it’s important to promote composers, to commission new works, and to keep this art form alive.”
There’s one more Florida connection this weekend. The featured solo violinist is James Ehnes, an international star who also lives in Bradenton. He’ll perform a violin concerto written for him by James Newton Howard, a film composer known for The Hunger Games, Dark Knight and many more.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4
Michael Francis, conductor
James Ehnes, violin
de Murga: Fanfare for Three Cities
Shchedrin: Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, “Naughty Limericks”
James Newton Howard: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
Fri, May 4, 8 pm, Straz Center
Sat, May 5, 8 pm, Mahaffey Theater
Sun, May 6, 7:30 pm, Ruth Eckerd Hall
Free tickets for kids and teens 5-18 in advance
Come early for the pre-concert conversation 1 hour before each performance, free with every concert ticket
Tickets: $15, $30 $45