By Kelly Smith

“Every bit of it has such rhythmic drive and power. It’s just sort of this magnetic pulse.”

That’s how Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis describes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and its jubilant feeling of dance. It’s a fitting centerpiece to the orchestra’s Birthday Bash Weekend marking its official incorporation 50 years ago, on November 2, 1967.

Expect festive touches all weekend, from the lobby into the concert halls in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater on Friday to Sunday, November 3-5. Tickets start at just $15, with free Classical Kids tickets for kids and teens, as part of the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series.

Joining the celebration is French-Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre, who makes his TFO debut on his specialty, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4. He’s one of the few pianists who performs the original 1926 version. The concert kicks off with Bartok’s Dance Suite, a collection of folk songs from around the world, “almost like the United Nations,” said Francis, who is conducting the concerts.
But the celebration doesn’t end with Beethoven:

Marvin Hamlisch & More – (Friday and Saturday, November 10 and 11): The orchestra honors one singular sensation with beloved songs by Marvin Hamlisch, along with the music that inspired him from Gershwin and Bernstein. Lee Musiker conducts and plays piano; Doug LaBrecque on vocals. There is also a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

Jeffrey Multer Plays Bruch (Saturday and Sunday, November 18 and 19): TFO’s virtuoso Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer shines on Bruch’s ever-popular Violin Concerto No. 1. Also: the famous melodies of Schubert’s unfinished Symphony No. 8, and Hindemith’s fantastically fun Symphonic Metamorphosis. Larry Rachleff conducts.

The Florida Orchestra regularly performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey in St. Petersburg and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Masterworks and Pops tickets are $15, $30 and $45. You can purchase tickets at or 727-892-3337 and 800-662-7286.

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