Photo courtesy of James Lennon Michael Francis conducts The Florida Orchestra.

For the second year in a row, The Florida Orchestra has set a record for ticket sales, with 125,700 paid seats in the 2017-18 season.

That’s two consecutive seasons above the 100,000 mark. Add in free tickets and community concert crowds, and the count climbs to more than 215,000 for TFO’s 50th anniversary season.

At least 18 sell-out concerts fueled the record attendance, topped by TFO’s premier 50th anniversary gala concert featuring Sting, which sold out the Mahaffey Theater in a week and raised a record $1.5 million. Other standouts included Handel’s Messiah, with an eye-popping nearly 10,000 patrons in three days; Carmina Burana; Holiday Pops; Romeo and Juliet & West Side Story; Music of Star Trek vs Star Wars; Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY; and film concerts of the first two Harry Potter series, performed in conjunction with the Straz Center.

Using the latest figures, The Florida Orchestra’s ticket sales have soared 45% since 2010.

The orchestra also performed for just under 80,000 people at community concerts at parks, hospitals, museums and schools, most for free. Plus TFO provided 17,000 free tickets to the concert halls in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, including about 1,000 Classical Kids and Teens tickets for Masterworks programs.

Season tickets are available now for The Florida Orchestra’s new season, which opens Friday to Sunday, September 28-30 with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series. Series highlights include Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, The Planets and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

The Raymond James Pops series opens with Bernstein’s Broadway, with other highlights including Disney in Concert, Holiday Pops and The Music of John Williams.

Series tickets are also available for morning Coffee concerts at the Mahaffey Theater and Ruth Eckerd Hall. TFO performs regularly at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey in St. Petersburg and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Buy at floridaorchestra.org or 727-892-3337 and 1-800-662-7286. Single tickets go on sale Monday, August 13.