By Henry Adams

With concerts starting in October, the first few weeks of The Florida Orchestra’s new season ranges from Rachmaninoff to the Rolling Stones and Beethoven to Ben Folds with an array of concerts covering masterworks, pops, morning coffee concerts, free pops in the park concerts and more.

Hailed for his “illuminating touch of a Zen master,” Peter Serkin joins the orchestra to kick off the season at the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 brimming with passion, drama and graceful crystalline melodies. Concertgoers will also be treated to splash of musical fun with a rollicking rhythmic ride in John Adams’ Lollapalooza. The evening wraps up with the sumptuous seductive sounds of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.  Joshua Weilerstein conducts these concerts on Friday-Sunday, October 10, 11 and 12 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Following in the kindred spirit of the rebel Beethoven, the orchestra pairs up with rock arranger and conductor Brent Havens for “The Music of the Rolling Stones,” with such classics as Let’s Spend the Night Together, Under My Thumb, Ruby Tuesday, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,  Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and Wild Horses, among others.  Featuring a sizzling rock band with lead singer Brody Dolyniuk, this concert is Friday, October 17, at the Mahaffey Theater.

At the next Tampa Bay Times Masterworks, the orchestra welcomes its new Music Director Designate, Michael Francis, who will be joined on center stage by Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer for Barber’s achingly beautiful Violin Concerto.  In a mix of music from the U.S. and Great Britain, the program offers Charles Ives’ evocation of night-time sounds in New York in his Central Park in the Dark, with the evening ending with the sweeping grandeur of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1. These concerts are Friday-Sunday, October 24, 25 and 26 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Visit www.floridaorchestra.org to find out about other concerts in October and November in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, including two free Pops in the Park Concerts, the Coffee Concert “Magic, Mystery & Music,” the Raymond James Pops “Fiesta! An Evening with the Mambo Kings,” and such Special Concerts as “Acura/ELS Presents The Ben Folds Experience” and a big screen concert event about humpback whales called “Ocean Voyagers.”  Most concerts offer affordable single-ticket prices of $15, $30 and $45. For a free season brochure or to order a series package or single tickets, visit www.floridaorchestra.org or call 727-892-3337 or 800-662-7286, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.