By Kelly Smithflorida-orchestra-denk8cmichaelwilson

From acrobats to one-handed concertos to good old rock ‘n’ roll, The Florida Orchestra season is off to a wild, wonderful start in October. At the heart of it all is some of the most beloved music of all time performed by the largest professional orchestra in Florida, under the leadership of Music Director Michael Francis. In addition to the September 30 opening night concert with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, look at the variety of concerts packed into October:

Cirque de la Symphonie (Friday-Sunday, October 7-9 with Saturday matinee): The whole family will flip for the Pops season opener, with cirque-style acrobats, aerialists, strongmen and contortionists performing in front of (and above) the orchestra as it plays favorites from John Williams, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and more.

The Music of Genesis Starring Daryl Stuermer (Friday, October 14): Virtuoso guitarist Daryl Stuermer of Genesis rocks out with the orchestra for hits like I Can’t Dance, Invisible Touch, Throwing it All Away and more. This is one night only at the Mahaffey Theater.

Free Pops in the Park (Saturday, October 15): It’s Star Wars under the stars at the mega-popular free concert in waterfront Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, presented by Ashley HomeStore. This year includes music from two Star Wars movies, the original and The Force Awakens, along with symphonic classics, Broadway hits and an explosive patriotic finale with fireworks. Encore performance on Sunday, October 16 at River Tower Park in Tampa (no fireworks).

Jeremy Denk Plays Ravel (Friday-Sunday, October 21-23): See pianist Jeremy Denk use the whole keyboard but only one hand for Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand.

Ray Charles, Motown and Beyond! (Friday-Sunday, October 28-30): “Ambassador of Soul” Ellis Hall pays tribute to the legendary Ray Charles, with hits like Unchain My Heart, Hit the Road Jack and, of course, Georgia on My Mind. Jeff Tyzik conducts.

The Florida Orchestra regularly performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey in St. Petersburg and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Buy at floridaorchestra.org or call 727-892-3337 and 800-662-7286.