Michael Francis Conductor Photo: Marco Borggreve

If you’re expecting The Florida Orchestra’s (TFO) next season to be a letdown after its 50th anniversary celebration, don’t. Music Director Michael Francis has put an enormous amount of thought into programming TFO’s most wide-ranging season yet. “It’s our first chance to show where we’re going as an orchestra in our new era,” he said. Looking beyond the big-name works – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – there’s so much more to adore. Here’s the inside scoop on three concerts you’ll fall in love with.

A Child of Our Time (Friday to Sunday, November 9-11): Don’t know it? Understandable. This is the first time TFO will perform Michael Tippett’s oratorio, featuring The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.

What’s to love:  Tippett, a pacifist, was inspired by Kristallnacht when he composed the oratorio, so it was a natural choice to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum. “It’s extraordinary as a dramatic, powerful, brand-new piece for the audience to hear, but it’s also very accessible, beautiful and memorable,” Francis said.

The Planets (Friday to Sunday, February 15-17, 2019): This concert includes a hidden gem that is dear to Michael Francis’ heart: music as a living art form. He and his wife, Cindy, are sponsoring a new work by USF Associate Professor Baljinder Sekhon, as yet unnamed.

What’s to love: Francis’ mission is two-pronged: explore the Masterworks in a new light and discover new music, especially Florida talent. “We’re showing that as the third biggest state, we have an incredible artistic voice,” Francis said.

Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 (Friday to Sunday, March 29-31, 2019): Even if you’re already a Brahms fan, the rest of this program is more awesome than you realize.

What’s to love: First of all, Michael Francis is stoked about working with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor in his TFO debut: “He is one of the great talents of our time.” This concert also features an unusual approach to Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, based on the poem by Richard Dehmel.

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

Concert series are on sale now at floridaorchestra.org or 727-892-3337 and 1-800.662-7286. Single tickets go on sale Monday, August 13.

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