The Florida Orchestra (TFO) President and CEO Mark Cantrell, who provided critical leadership to keep the orchestra performing during the COVID-19 pandemic, will leave TFO to take the next step in his career, the orchestra announced recently. He will depart in May to become CEO of the Colorado Symphony in Denver.
“This is a bittersweet moment for me. I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished together at TFO, but I’m excited for the new challenge of a larger orchestra in an area that holds great meaning personally. In addition to music, my life has been dedicated to the great outdoors, and since I was a little boy, I have dreamed of living in the mountains. While I will miss working with Michael Francis, the musicians and the entire TFO team, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I have no doubt the orchestra will continue to grow and make a positive impact on this community,” said Cantrell, whose varied career includes professional musician, sled-dog racer, commercial pilot and furniture maker.
Core leadership remains strong for the orchestra, which celebrates 55 years this season. Internationally acclaimed music director Michael Francis, in his eighth season with TFO, will continue to lead the orchestra’s phenomenal artistic success with 71 full-time professional musicians and conductors. TFO’s senior staff will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the organization with oversight by TFO’s board of directors. The board has initiated a national search to identify a new CEO who will build on the orchestra’s successes and carry TFO’s momentum forward.
Board Chair Gregory Yadley expressed his appreciation for Cantrell’s contributions during his four years with TFO: “Mark’s leadership during the COVID pandemic was critical to our success. Mark galvanized TFO together as a team in partnership with Michael Francis and TFO’s board to boldly keep TFO performing when almost no other orchestras did. TFO played 86 concerts for live audiences in the 2020-21 season alone, before returning to full strength the following year. The orchestra emerged in a solid financial position thanks to Mark’s oversight, Maestro Francis’ creative programming and the steadfast support of donors and patrons.”
The orchestra continues to grow attendance post-COVID, attract new major sponsors and form partnerships with local organizations and museums to ensure TFO is meeting the needs of schools and diverse groups on both sides of the bay.
Francis expressed his gratitude for Cantrell: “Mark Cantrell has been a tremendous partner to help make TFO what it is today — a cultural arts leader in our community. He developed an outstanding relationship with TFO’s musicians, and one of his greatest achievements was to negotiate a successful contract that keeps our world-class orchestra growing at the same pace as our thriving Tampa Bay. Mark leaves TFO in a great position to build on our success onstage and throughout our community. I wish him; his wife, Carolyn; and his family all the best in Colorado.”
For more information, visit https://floridaorchestra.org/.