By Kelly Smith

From the office to school to politics, life is crazy. Beethoven can help. Feel the pure joy of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with its triumphant Ode to Joy on Friday-Sunday, September 30-October 2 at opening weekend of The Florida Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Michael Francis and featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. But don’t stop there. It’s easy to Compose Your Own series of concerts to last all season long. It’s just $25 a ticket for some of the best reserved seats when you buy three or more concerts, which are regularly $30 and $45 tickets. Mix and match from 23 classical Masterworks and crowd-pleasing Pops concerts. Here’s a guide:

All Beethoven, all the time: Just pick all five Beethoven concerts and you’re done. In addition to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (September 30-October 2), there’s Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with TFO Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer (Friday-Sunday, December 2-4); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 (Friday-Sunday, February 17-19); Beethoven & Rachmaninoff (Friday-Sunday, March 31-April 2); and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Dejan Lazic on piano (Friday-Sunday, May 19-21). 

Pay tribute: In the Ray Charles, Motown and Beyond concert (Friday-Sunday, October 28-30), nobody pulls it off quite like Ellis Hall, whose mentor was the legendary Ray Charles, with hits like I Can’t Stop Loving You, Hit the Road Jack and Georgia on My Mind. Celebrate the one and only Ella Fitzgerald in the Singin’ and Swingin’: A Century of Ella concert (Friday-Sunday, April 21-23), and honor the great tradition of pops concerts with Great American Pops: From Fiedler to Williams (Friday-Sunday, November 18-20).

Show me: The whole family will flip for Cirque de la Symphonie, with acrobats performing in front of (and above) the orchestra while they play symphonic favorites (Friday-Sunday, October 7-9, with a Saturday matinee). The Dali Experience will tantalize all your senses, with music that inspired Salvador Dali, featuring superstar classical guitarist and heartthrob MILOS, images of Dali’s paintings and dancers (Friday-Sunday, March 3-5).  

How to Compose Your Own series: Choose from 23 classical and pops programs at ComposeYourOwn.com (service charges apply). Get single tickets at www.floridaorchestra.org or call 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.