By Kelly Smith
Consider the next morning Coffee Concert as a “greatest hits” show for the new 2015-16 Florida Orchestra season, with a sneak peek at Masterworks, Pops and Coffee series. The wide-ranging program includes Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica,” Themes from The Godfather and John Williams’ Liberty Fanfare, just to name a few. And along with complimentary coffee and doughnuts, there’s another treat: Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, who will talk about the music and composers in a relaxed, lighthearted setting. Concerts are 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 8 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater and 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 9 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
Kicking off two Raymond James Pops programs in April is “A Gershwin Celebration,” a salute to the genius of George and Ira Gershwin. The main event will be highlights from Porgy and Bess, with soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, bass-baritone Kevin Deas and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. The overture to Funny Face, Rialto Ripples and Cuban Overture round out the program, on Friday, April 10 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Saturday, April 11 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and Sunday, April 12 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Jeff Tyzik also conducts. In the second Pops program later in the month, get happy with Hilary Kole’s tribute to Judy Garland, including The Trolley Song, Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart and, of course, Over the Rainbow. Concerts are Friday-Sunday, April 24-26 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, with Principal Guest Conductor Stuart Malina conducting.
In the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series, go off into the Arabian Nights in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, with gorgeous violin solos woven throughout. You’ll also get a smart take on Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with multifaceted soloist Jeremy Denk, winner of a “Genius” Fellowship, and a mystical, haunting work called blue cathedral by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. It features soaring flute and clarinet solos, as well as unexpected notes from Chinese meditation balls — and even tuned wine glasses. Concerts are Friday-Sunday, April 17-19 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Individual concert tickets for this season as well as series packages for the 2015-16 season are available at www.floridaorchestra.org or by calling 727-892-3337 or 800-662-7286 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Most concerts offer affordable single-ticket prices of $15, $30 and $45.