By Kelly Smith

Called “riveting” and “impossible not to watch,” Music Director Michael Francis has been an instant hit in his first year with The Florida Orchestra. This fall, he will lead the orchestra’s premier Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series, conducting nine of 14 concerts. This is what the orchestra is all about: classical masterpieces you love, performed with passion. And don’t forget free Classical Kids tickets for ages 5-18. Here are five can’t-miss Masterworks concerts for the 2016/17 season.

Opening Night: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Friday to Sunday, September 30-October 2): Michael Francis opens his second season in grand style, with Beethoven’s towering symphony and its glorious Ode to Joy, featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. With a Sunday matinee.

Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony (Friday to Sunday, November 4-6): Francis conducts perhaps Mozart’s greatest – and final — symphony, Symphony No. 41, Jupiter. Also: brilliant young violinist Benjamin Beilman on Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

Songs of the Sea: Britten, Elgar & Debussy (Friday to Sunday, November 11-13): Feel the ebb and flow of the sea, with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, Elgar’s Sea Pictures and Debussy’s La Mer. Then dive into the TFO premiere of Jake Heggie’s The Work at Hand, based on deeply moving poetry by a woman battling cancer. Michael Francis conducts.

The Dalí Experience Featuring Milos (Friday to Sunday, March 3-5): A concert devoted to music that inspired one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Salvador Dalí, featuring images of Dalí’s paintings, dancers and superstar classical guitarist Milos, all under the baton of Michael Francis. Works include Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod; Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez; Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat ballet; and Ravel’s La Valse.

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9): Van Cliburn competition winner Vadym Kholodenko makes his TFO debut performing one of the most famous piano works in the world, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Also: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6. Nicholas Carter is guest conductor.

Series subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets, which start at just $15, are available Monday, August 8. Get tickets at www.floridaorchestra.org or 727-892-3337 and 1-800-662-7286.

The orchestra regularly performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.