There’s no shortage of things to look forward to in Sarasota’s music world. Here are a few favorites.
A friend on Florida’s East Coast sent me an email the other day telling me how excited he was about a concert by the illustrious New World Symphony Orchestra. I, braggart that I am, wrote him a long note about just some of the upcoming musical events we’re looking forward to in Sarasota. (I haven’t heard from him since.) Here’s some of what I wrote him:
The Sarasota Orchestra has, like Sarasota Ballet, become so popular, it’s not only selling out its performances, it’s also had to add extra dates so people won’t be left out. Most cities our size don’t have a 36-week orchestra of paid, professional musicians but we have, and it shows in the popularity and variety of its programs, from the more traditional Masterworks series (I’m looking forward to hearing the upcoming Mozart “Requiem,” paired with the “Credo” by the extremely popular Arvo Pärt featuring the Orchestra with the double-Grammy Award winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Music Director Anu Tali is bringing her part of the world to ours.)
Most cities our size certainly don’t have an orchestra that has, not only a Masterworks series of great depth, but also chamber music (including immensely popular contemporary explorations like the “Sinking of the Titanic,” which promises to be both dramatic and historic). There are also the Pops concerts, which have grown over the years and the Great Escapes series, which ranges from Romantic Nights and Sounds of America to The People’s Choice, which will feature pieces performed over the past five years and voted for a reprise by orchestra subscribers.
The Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota has a massive season, including a Festival of French Music featuring favorite soloists from the Sarasota area (Orchestra Principal Flutist Betsy Traba, for starters, to international superstars like baritone John Brancy). Best of all, to get these great performers, they’ve collaborated with other groups — here in Sarasota and in New York — including SILL’s Music Mondays and the illustrious Young Concert Artists, the organization that introduced us to the likes of Ruth Laredo and the Tokyo String Quartet. When you hear YCA is involved, you know you’re hearing tomorrow’s superstars today.
Oh, and the Artist Series is also bringing the world-famous Callaway Sisters (Ann Hampton Callaway, who’s considered one of the greatest jazz pianists and singers in the world, and Tony nominated singer Liz Callaway, who starred in “Cats” for five years on Broadway, along with “Merrily We Roll Along” and the original cast of “Miss Saigon.” They’re here in their classic, “Sibling Revelry.” This is a Sarasota coup.
Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival opens with everyone’s favorite tragic love story, “Madama Butterfly,” and continues with the rollicking “The Italian Girl in Algiers,” the spine chilling “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” and “The Love for Three Kings.” A word about Poulenc’s “Dialogues.” I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that the last scene, based on the true story of the Carmelite nuns in France during the French Revolution, has each nun mounting the scaffold to the guillotine, singing a “Salve Regina.” As each head falls, one voice drops out and there’s a thud that you’ll remember for weeks. It’s all in the music.
The Gloria Musicae Singers are teaming up with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay for a performance of the Verdi “Requiem” at the Sarasota Opera House. And the Singers’ season also includes the stunning Duraflé “Requiem” and the gorgeous Poulenc “Gloria,” along with the rousing July 4 spectacular, “Voices of Freedom.”
The Sarasota Concerts Association’s Great Performers Series is planning A Night at Bach’s Coffee House with the very great ensemble, “Apollo’s Fire,” and conductor Peter Oundjian will be here with the Royal Scottish Orchestra. And, just when you think the season is coming to an end, La Musica and the Sarasota Music Festival pop up with enough great chamber music to fill your soul through the summer.