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Sarasota Orchestra announces program for 2022-23 season

Bramwell Tovey's first year as music director of the Sarasota Orchestra will feature an exciting mix of classical composers and engaging contemporary material.


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The stage is set for Bramwell Tovey’s first season as music director of the Sarasota Orchestra.

The orchestra announced its full slate of performers and performances for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday, including an appearance by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in March 2023.

Tovey, who has spent the past year as the orchestra’s music director designate, will play a leading role in the Masterworks series, but he will also conduct a Pops performance and a Discovery concert in addition to performing on piano in a Chamber Soiree event.

Tovey will conduct four of the seven Masterworks events. The first Masterworks event, appropriately entitled “A Fantastic Beginning,” will take place in November.

Acclaimed pianist Joyce Yang will be the featured guest, and Tovey will lead the orchestra through material by Quinn Mason, Grieg and Berlioz. Tovey will also conduct a Mahler-themed performance in January and a Brahms-themed event in February. The Masterworks series will conclude in April 2023, and Tovey will also conduct the final performances.

The Masterworks-themed performances will all take place at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the Neil Performing Arts Center. Other conductors appearing in the Masterworks series will include Lina Gonzalez-Granados, Kensho Watanabe and Paul Daniel.

The Sarasota Orchestra will also hold three Pops events next season, and they’ll play disparate material ranging from Broadway standards and Noel Coward tunes to James Bond theme songs and the hits of famed piano men Billy Joel and Elton John.

The first Pops show — “The Music of Billy Joel and Elton John — will be held in January, and it will be conducted by Stuart Chafetz. Tovey will conduct “Hits of the Brits” in March, and the final Pops performance “Broadway Bound” will be helmed by William Waldrop in April.

The Discoveries series — which act as a musical bridge for both newcomers and those experienced with classical music — will all take place at the Sarasota Opera House. Tovey will conduct the first event on October 1 featuring the music of Mozart and Tchakovsky.

Guest soloist Zlatomir Fung will play the cello at that first Discovery performance.

The second Discovery performance, “The French Influencers,” will take place on Dec. 21, conducted by Sara Ioannides. Bizet and Liszt will be on the program that evening.

The final Discovery event, “Musical Postcards,” will be conducted by Joseph Young on May 13, and guest soloist Bokyung Byun will perform on the guitar.

Next up on the list the Great Escapes series; this collection of concerts offers a themed program mix of classics and popular favorites. All Great Escapes performances will take place at Holley Hall, and themes will include “A Night at the Movies” and “Sounds of Spring.”

Lawrence Loh will conduct the first Great Escapes event, “A Night at the Movies,” in October.

Steven Jarvi will conduct two Great Escapes programs: “Seasonal Gifts” and “Date Night.” Christopher Confessore will conduct “A Little Night Music” in January of 2023, and John Gennaro Devlin and Michelle Merrill will also serve as Great Escapes conductors.

The final series — Chamber Soiree — are a grouping of small ensemble performances that will all take place at Holley Hall. Tovey will play the piano in February for an evening of tunes by George Gershwin. Other highlights of the Chamber Soiree series include the Sarasota String Quartet in October, pianist Orion Weiss playing Bach and Franck in November, and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts leading the “Scottish Songs” program in January of 2023.

The season will also include a pair of concerts outside of the themed series, both conducted by Tovey. The first one, on February 18, will feature the Sarasota Youth Philharmonic. And the second, a gala event on March 2, will have Yo-Yo Ma playing a Dvorak cello concerto.