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Sarasota's 2017-2018 music season offers exciting performances

The area’s music scene packs ample offerings in the coming months.

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  • | 5:03 p.m. October 27, 2017
Choral Artists of Sarasota will perform Handel’s “Messiah” at the Too Hot to Handel show on Dec. 10 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Choral Artists of Sarasota will perform Handel’s “Messiah” at the Too Hot to Handel show on Dec. 10 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
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It’s that time of the year again: Ringling International Arts Festival is over after another successful outing, the Arts Alliance awards night is history,  the Sarasota Opera brings Verdi back to his American home this weekend after a year’s absence, Sarasota Orchestra’s Masterworks series is just around the corner, and we’re off and running for another season of virtually back-to-back musical offerings.

It has been said that, figured on a per capita basis, Sarasota has at least as many cultural activities as New York City, and I agree, as would most anyone if they think about it seriously.

Just a mere list of all the musical organizations and their performances would take up at least two sections of the Observer, so I’m only going to touch on those that promise some of the highlights of this season.

After Sarasota Opera’s performances of “La Traviata” opens the fall season this weekend, the Sarasota Youth Opera presents another world premiere, “Rootabaga,” for two performances. Later on the opera’s winter festival season will open with “Manon Lescaut” and continue with “Carmen,” “Norma” and D’Albert’s “Tiefland” in its first American performance in more than 100 years. 

Anu Tali opens her penultimate season with the Sarasota Orchestra with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, and during this season, two Masterworks concerts will honor the Leonard Bernstein centennial. Masterworks V will feature the prodigious talent of voilin superstar Midori, in her first visit to Sarasota, performing Bernstein’s “Serenade after Plato’s Symposium.” The orchestra also offers chamber music, chamber orchestra and its sell-out Pops series. 

For choral fanciers, Choral Artists of Sarasota (nee Gloria Musicae) has a full musical plate this season with a Bach Festival, Carmina Burana, the Brahms Requiem, and its Patriotic Spectacular, in addition to a repeat of “Too Hot to Handel,” the gospel version of “Messiah,” last season’s big hit, which moves in December to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. 

Key Chorale’s season is underway, but there is much more to come, including Christmas concerts in Sarasota and Venice, and, of course, Cirque d’Voix, in partnership with the Sarasota Circus, which has become a spring tradition.

If chamber music is your favorite, there’s more than enough to go around. La Musica’s much-loved International Chamber Music series doesn’t arrive until spring, but there are the ensembles of the Sarasota Orchestra and the Perlman Music Program, which graces the Christmas season with visiting young performers from around the world. 

Like, or learning to like, new music? Contemporary music, new music, or whatever you choose to call it, is building an audience in Sarasota with each appearance by New Music New College and ensemblenewSRQ, that dynamic music collective that’s in its second season and has appeared at RIAF. It has a big season of its own just getting underway. 

Then there are the presenting organizations: Sarasota Concert Association, whose Great Performers Series will host the Cleveland Orchestra and the Takács String Quartet, and Van Wezel’s Classic Series, which includes an appearance by  Renee Fleming, returning for a solo recital. Artist Series Concerts, now in its 22nd season, will offer 41 performances of music for every taste, including intimate soirees, luncheon concerts, blockbuster evenings at the Sarasota Opera House, and a special series in Venice. 

And if you think the season ends with the orchestra’s pair of concerts in May at Ed Smith Stadium, it doesn’t. There is still the Sarasota Music Festival for three weeks in June, with Music Director Jeffrey Kahane returning for his second season and more than 60 of the  country’s young musicians.

It goes on and on, and none of this takes into account any of the vast number of  semi-professional musical groups that abound in Sarasota. But wait,  there are also the jazz, theater, dance and ballet companies, both semi and professional that are part of the great cultural mix of the performing arts that is Sarasota.

Put them all together and it’s no surprise that in 2015 the arts provided almost 7,500 full-time jobs in Sarasota County, and for this coming season, it will probably be closer to 8,000.   

So take your choice — music, theater, dance, or hopefully all three — and go and enjoy.  Every  event has tickets priced for every budget.

I hope to see you often this coming season. It’s bound to be a great one!


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