By Kelly Smith

The Florida Orchestra and Music Director Michael Francis go all out to celebrate TFO’s 50th anniversary in the premier Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series. The 2017-18 season kicks off in October with the popular Carmina Burana and includes plenty of old favorites. Don’t forget kids and teens get in free with Classical Kids tickets. Here are five can’t-miss concerts:

Opening Night: Carmina Burana (October 6-8): Orff’s masterpiece has taken on a life of its own in everything from the Super Bowl to political spoofs to The Simpsons. But nothing can compare to hearing it live with Michael Francis and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. The opening will knock you back in your seat.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (November 3-5): This weekend in November marks 50 years since the official merger of the St. Petersburg Symphony and the Tampa Philharmonic. TFO will celebrate with Beethoven’s jubilant Symphony No. 7 and thrilling French Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre, who makes his TFO debut on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Michael Francis conducts.

Jahja Ling Conducts Beethoven (January 6-7): In honor of the 50th anniversary, former TFO Music Director Jahja Ling returns to conduct Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 — performed by his wife, Jessie Chang — and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, which Ling conducted in 1987 for TFO’s 20th anniversary.
Dvorak’s The New World Symphony (February 23-25): Old favorites — Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – are paired with a world premiere work by Tampa native Michael Ippolito, who composed a Florida-inspired piece just for TFO’s 50th season. Michael Francis conducts.

Verdi’s Requiem (April 20-22): A true highlight of the 50th anniversary season. TFO has not performed Verdi’s massive masterpiece since 2002. Drama, passion and deep faith combine for an extraordinary evening in the concert hall, featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay under the baton of Michael Francis.

Series subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets will be available starting August 14. The orchestra regularly performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. And for the first time, the Masterworks series branches off with a five-concert Sunday Matinee subscription series of select shows at the Mahaffey Theater. Subscribe at

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