It’s almost laughable to think we can stuff all the music events for 2013 into a column. In 2012, we learned that, based on a recent national study, Sarasota was voted No. 1 in the arts in the U.S. for communities of its size. On top of that, a portion of the tourist tax here provides about $1.3 million dollars to arts organizations in Sarasota County every year. There’s more. Sarasota County has more than 5,500 people employed in the arts and living among us. And, more than $180 million a year is spent on the arts, in one way or another, including salaries, fees, tickets and revenue. Not bad for a place that also has the No. 1 beach in America!
So, what’s happening in music for the rest of the 2012-2013 season? A lot. Among the more exciting is the future of the Sarasota Orchestra. As you know, there is a search on right now to find the ensemble’s next music director, and, according to Gordon Greenfield, vice president of marketing, “We want an innovative music director with a respect for the classics, a great fundraiser and a strong leader who collaborates well.”
Greenfield admits, “That is a lot, and that’s why this isn’t a quick or easy search. Few cities our size can boast of an orchestra of this quality, and such passionate and generous community support. That makes this position attractive to exceptional conductors who might not otherwise consider a city our size as the next step in their careers.”
Meanwhile, great musicians from around the world are getting to work with the orchestra and they’re spreading the good word. This is a top-class ensemble and it deserves the best, just as its musicians are some of the finest I’ve heard anywhere. We’re blessed to have this ensemble here.
We’re also very fortunate to have some really first-rate choruses. Key Chorale, conducted by Joseph Caulkins, is a large community-based group that offers fascinating choral repertoire in unusual spaces. This March, for example, you’ll find them in collaboration with Sarasota Young Voices, Circus Sarasota and the Cirque Orchestra for a third season of “Cirque des Voix,” a star-studded circus-of-a-choral event.
Led by Dr. Joseph Holt (recently retired from the United States Army Chorus), Gloria Musicae is an all-paid, all-professional vocal ensemble that presents concerts of a variety of music, with guest soloists, in major halls in our area. In April, they’ll get together with jazz icon Dick Hyman for a concert at the Opera House called, “Reel Time Plus,” that will feature a world premiere written by Hyman for Gloria Musicae, along with songs arranged by Hyman for the movies, from Woody Allen favorites to “Moonstruck.” And, Belle Canto, a small chorus of some of the best female voices in town under the direction of Elizabeth Goldstein, is planning several concerts this season including “Music in Motion,” featuring vocal music and dance, this March in the beautiful new space of First United Methodist Church.
Also at First Church, you’ll find “Powerful Pipes,” the inaugural season of recitals by a pair of New York’s greatest organists bound to blow you away: Kent Tritle (organist with the New York Philharmonic and director of music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine), and Kenneth Dake (organist and music director at Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue).
Sarasota also has several world-class chamber music festivals, starting with the illustrious winter residency of the (Itzhak) Perlman Music Program, which is going on right now and will culminate in a special concert this weekend at the Sarasota Opera House. Their enthusiasm, which is catching, can only be topped by their talent! La Musica, a long-lived chamber festival continues this April and the Sarasota Music Festival is back for its 49th season in June for more spectacular programming performed by top-notch students and their world-renowned mentors. The great thing about these festivals is that you’re also invited to sit in on many of the rehearsals, something invaluable to music lovers.
Sarasota Opera, one of the few companies in America to own its own house, opens its 54th season with “Turandot,” “Pearl Fishers,” “Of Mice and Men” and “A King for a Day,” in repertory over the next couple of months.
There’s a lot more, but I’m out of space. It makes me a little spacey to think I moved from Manhattan,N.Y., to Sarasota and have all this excitement right in my backyard without having to fight anyone for a taxi or a parking space.