By Kelly Smith

March begins with a double treat at The Florida Orchestra (TFO): Stuart Malina, who usually conducts the Coffee Concert series, will instead take a seat at the piano to perform Gershwin’s classic Rhapsody in Blue at a special morning concert. And on the podium will be Music Director Michael Francis. There are two performances: 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 2 at Ruth Eckerd Hall and 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 3 at the Mahaffey Theater.

Red Hot Blues (Friday-Sunday, March 4-6): Heat up the night with this Raymond James Pops concert, with Byron Stripling on trumpet for the music of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Count Basie. Jeff Tyzik conducts, Dee Daniels on vocals.

Brahms: A German Requiem (Saturday, March 12-13): Michael Francis conducts the orchestra and The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay in Brahms’ monumental and moving German Requiem. Also on the program is MacMillan’s The World’s Ransoming, featuring TFO Principal English Horn Jeffrey Stephenson as soloist. At a special performance, listen deeper in a special “Inside Brahms’ German Requiem” concert that features insight from Michael Francis and musical demos by the orchestra before a performance of the full work. The concert is Friday, March 11 at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. The cost is $15.

Listen and Laugh (Thursday, March 24): Did someone say classical music can be stuffy? Not at this morning Coffee Concert where Stuart Malina serves up classically fun works with complimentary coffee, doughnuts and a delightful sense of humor: Anderson’s The Typewriter, L. Mozart’s “Toy” Symphony, Schickele’s The Unbegun Symphony and more.

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (Friday-Sunday, April 1-3): Stunning teen violinist Simone Porter makes her TFO debut with Mendelssohn’s highly popular Violin Concerto. Also: Haydn’s Symphony No. 96, “The Miracle,” and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9. Josep Caballé-Domenech conducts.

Masterworks and Pops tickets are $15, $30 and $45, Coffee concert tickets are $24-$42 at or 727-892-3337 and 800-662-7286. The orchestra performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

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