Skip to main content
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018 3 years ago

2018-2019 Sarasota arts season marks several music milestones

From anniversaries to new collaborations, there's plenty to look forward to during the new music season.
by: Edward Alley Contributor

Well before our few days of fall-like weather finally appeared this week, the music season in Sarasota was already underway. 

Early season concerts by the Sarasota Orchestra, Artist Series Concert’s “Piano Grand III” and the Choral Artists of Sarasota had already blazed the trail for another busy season of professional music performances.

Sarasota’s 2018-2019 season could well be titled “ A Season of Anniversaries,” since several of our major organizations are reminding us of their beloved longevity. Leading that pack would be the Sarasota Orchestra, celebrating a 70th anniversary season and also the final season of Music Director Anu Tali, who will close her tenure this spring with a gala performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Before that, she will be leading four more of the orchestra’s Masterworks series. The Sarasota Orchestra offers several series to suit every taste, including “Chamber Soirées,” “Discoveries,” “Great Escapes,” and “Pops.” (

Contemporary music organization ensemblenewSRQ is run by married duo Samantha Bennett and George Nickson of the Sarasota Orchestra. Courtesy photo

Celebrating its 60th season, the Sarasota Opera will feature Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” opening this weekend, and a Winter Festival of Puccini’s “Turandot,” Verdi’s “Nabucco,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and a double bill of Donzetti’s “Rita” and “Susanna’s Secret” by Wolf-Ferrari. The Sarasota Youth Opera presents Britten’s “The Little Sweep,” in early November. (

The Choral Artists of Sarasota, founded 40 years ago as Gloria Musicae, opened the vocal season about a week ago and has four more concerts throughout the season, including a chamber version of Brahms’ “Requiem.” They will be joined by Key Chorale for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony performances. Finally there is the annual Fourth of July concert, which will be at the opera house this year. (

Following close behind is Key Chorale, celebrating 34 seasons, with an opening chamber concert this weekend at St. Boniface Episcopal Church and followed by concerts including Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” Fauré’s “Requiem” and, of course, “Cirque des Voix,” the chorale’s annual visit to the big top of the Sarasota Circus. (

The Artist Series Concerts continues its potpourri of offerings in classical, popular and musical theater performances in a variety of venues around the area, including baritone John Brancy, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and Emmanuel Ceysson, harpist of the Metropolitan Opera. (

Not celebrating an anniversary, but nevertheless long standing, is the Great Performers Series of the Sarasota Concert Association, which every year treats us to visiting orchestras, chamber music and soloists. This season it is bringing the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. (

Sarasota Youth Opera will again present "The Little Sweep" this season. Courtesy photo

For the ever increasing audience for contemporary or “new” music, “ensemblenewSRQ” returns for a third season of creative programming including guest artists “HUB New Music” from Boston, a special multimedia work in collaboration with New Music New College and a guest appearance by young American composer Matthew Aucoin. 

The Perlman Music Program - Suncoast is offering something special to commemorate its 15th anniversary in Sarasota. In addition to several special appearances by program alumni throughout the area, Itzhak Perlman and the Klezmer Conservatory Band will present an evening of Klesmer Music at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall before the annual residency begins in late December. ( 

And on and on and on it goes. Yes, I know there are organizations I haven’t included in this brief survey, but to list all the music that’s happening each season in Sarasota would take up this entire section.  

There are so many things to see and hear that it’s virtually impossible to fit everything in. I’m still convinced that on a per capita basis, Sarasota’s arts, music, and drama scene is at least as busy as Manhattan’s, which is saying a lot.

Happy listening, everyone!

Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.

Edward Alley is a conductor, former manager of the NY Philharmonic, associate director of the Juilliard Opera Center and director of the MBRockefeller Fund for Music. He succeeds his wife, the late June LeBell, as producer/host of SILL’s Music Mondays.

See All Articles by Edward

Related Stories