Concert Schedule

The 2015-2016 Season will deliver performances of unsurpassed energy, passion, and excellence.

Choose from one of our series, Masterworks, Pops, Great Escapes, Chamber, or one of our Special Events. Many concerts sold out last season. By subscribing, you guarantee your seats for a season filled with exceptional music as the Sarasota Orchestra continues on its path of artistic excellence!

Movie Night

Great Escapes 1

Tickets from $36 | seat layout

Whether it is Bugs Bunny or Jurassic Park, music is central to film. Enjoy a bag of complimentary popcorn, sit back and listen to great movie music, and then watch a screening of Chaplin’s classic short film The Lion’s Cage. Featuring Betsy Traba, principal flute and Cheryl Losey, principal harp, performing Mozart from the movie Amadeus.

Photo: Young Kim, horn; Katherine Jordan, horn; Joshua Horne, acting co-principal horn

Featured Artists:

Andrew Lane

Andrew Lane, conductor

Program Wednesday & Friday Programs include ONLY the starred pieces

  • Overture to William Tell
  • Andantino from Flute and Harp Concerto in C Major
    Betsy Hudson Traba, flute; Cheryl Losey Feder, harp
  • Red Pony Film Suite
  • Highlights from Jurassic Park
  • Jesus Christ Superstar Medley
  • Arr. CUSTER
  • Star Trek Through the Years
  • Arr. BOCOOK
  • Movie Spectacular
  • CHAPLIN/JAMES/WILLIAMSON Score Restored by Timothy Brock
  • The Lion’s Cage from The Circus
  • Forrest Gump Main Title
  • Tribute to Henry Mancini
  • Star Wars Suite

Percussion Perfect

Chamber Soiree 3

Tickets from $32 | seat layout

Don’t miss this plethora of percussion! This concert showcases the skills of Principal Percussion George Nickson. Toru Takemitsu’s Rain Tree combines a percussion trio with dynamic lighting. Argentine- American Mario Davidovsky is one of the most significant names in American composition. Take a turn to the serene side with Arvo Pärt’s beautiful work for cello and piano, highlighted in the Oscarwinning film Gravity. The whimsy of Andy Akiho’s work rounds out this concert.

Featured Artists:

George Nickson

George Nickson, principal percussion


  • Rain Tree
    George Nickson, percussion; Bruce Lehman, percussion
  • Flashbacks
    Betsy Husdon Traba, flute; Calvin Falwell clarinet/bass clarinet ; Jennifer Best Takeda, violin; Christopher Schnell, cello; Jonathan Spivey, piano; George Nickson, percussion
  • Spiegel im Spiegel
    Jake Muzzy, cello
    Jonathan Spivey, piano
  • LigNEouS 1
    George Nickson, marimba; Daniel Jordan, violin; Christopher Takeda, violin; Elizabeth Beilman, viola; Jake Muzzy, cello

Read more $32 & Up

The Emperor

Masterworks 1

Music Director Anu Tali launches our Masterworks season with two works by Shostakovich and the "Emperor" of all piano concertos. Beethoven’s majestic Piano Concerto No. 5 is among the most popular in the repertoire. It will shine even brighter in the hands of pianist Marc-André Hamelin. Shostakovich’s powerful Symphony No. 5 expresses the pain of Soviet-era repression. The underlying theme brought Russian audiences to tears as they related to its protest of authoritarianism. Yet the surface theme of Russian patriotism spared the composer the death or deportation to the Gulag that was common for artists not compliant in Stalin's Soviet state.

Featured Artists:

Anu Tali

Anu Tali, Music Director

Marc-André Hamelin

Program Click on "Notes" for Program Notes

  • Festive Overture
  • As a composer active during Stalin’s regime, Dmitri Shostakovich is inextricably linked with the political climate in which he worked. During the course of his career he constantly walked a fine line between artistic freedom and the demands of the cultural police - and by all accounts, it took a toll.  Below, his son Oleg described his father during a visit in the early 1950s, around the time Shostakovich composed the Festive Overture,

    He never seemed to stop moving. He would continually change his position on the chair, as if he never felt comfortable, crossing one leg over the other, then swapping legs; then a slipper would fall off, and he would try and pick it up from the floor and put it back on; then he would drop it again. Occasionally he would try to light a cigarette, but matches kept breaking, and the cigarette would refuse to light…

    As Shostakovich wrote in his autobiography Testimony, he had reason to be nervous. A work’s reception meant much more than a good or bad review - it literally could mean life and death. "It didn’t matter how the audience reacted to your work or if the critics liked it," he writes. "All that had no meaning in the final analysis. There was only one question of life or death: how did the leader like your opus? I stress: life or death, because we are talking about life or death here, literally, not figuratively. That’s what you must understand."

    In spite of the constant undercurrent of strain running through his life, Shostakovich was reportedly a good-natured person - and the Festive Overture’s creation reflects this. The work sprang to life in fall 1954 at the request of the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, which suddenly found itself in need of a new work to commemorate the October Revolution. Shostakovich’s friend Lev Lebedinsky described the composer as he wrote the piece. "The speed with which he wrote was truly astounding. Moreover, when he wrote light music he was able to talk, make jokes and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart. He laughed and chuckled, and in the meanwhile work was under way and the music was being written down."  Interestingly, the only concert Shostakovich conducted professionally was a performance in 1962 organized by Mstislav Rostropovich. He chose to begin with his own Festive Overture.

    Program notes were written by Jennifer Glagov. She has an MA in Music History, Literature and Theory from the University of Chicago, and a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters from the University of Michigan. She is currently the Program Annotator and Director of Marketing and Communications at Music of the Baroque in Chicago.

  • Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor)
  • Beethoven composed his fifth and final piano concerto shortly after the French occupation of Vienna - a less than ideal situation, as the composer himself described: "What a destructive, unruly life around me! Nothing but drums, cannons, human misery of all sorts!" Battling futilely against his inevitable hearing loss, Beethoven had also been forced to take refuge in his brother Kaspar’s basement, burying his head in pillows in a vain attempt to protect his ears. In spite of the calamitous circumstances surrounding its conception, the Piano Concerto No. 5 is considered by many to be the culmination both chronologically and stylistically of Beethoven’s efforts in the genre. Coming at the end of an extremely productive period during which Beethoven composed four symphonies, the Piano Concerto No. 4, the opera Fidelio, the Violin Concerto, the three "Razumovsky" String Quartets, and two piano sonatas - the "Appassionata" and the "Waldstein" - the fifth piano concerto is the only one that Beethoven was not able to play himself. By the time of the work’s premiere in 1811, deafness had effectively put an end to his performing career. Perhaps because he could no longer serve as soloist, the "Emperor" was the last piano concerto Beethoven would ever write.

    Dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, the Piano Concerto No. 5 was described by Alfred Einstein as "the apotheosis of the military concept" in Beethoven’s music. In addition to its generally heroic tone, the work also uses the key of E-flat major, which Beethoven also used in the Symphony No. 3, "Eroica" (1803). Although Beethoven famously dedicated - and then undedicated - the "Eroica" to Napoleon, the "Emperor" Concerto bears no direct association with the dictator; like many classical symphonies and concertos, the nickname was added after Beethoven’s death, perhaps by a savvy publisher as a marketing tool. In January 1812, the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung declared the work groundbreaking: "It is without doubt one of the most original, imaginative, most effective but also one of the most difficult of all existing concertos." After a grand orchestral chord, the "Emperor" opens with improvisatory-sounding, triumphant music for the solo piano, almost as if the pianist is warming up for what comes next.  At the point in the movement when a cadenza would typically be improvised, Beethoven includes what amounts to a written-out cadenza - perhaps because he knew that he himself would not be performing the work - admonishing the soloist, "Do not play a cadenza but attack immediately the following."  After the lyrical Adagio un poco mosso, a joyful, spontaneous-sounding Rondo takes the concerto to a brilliant close.

    Program notes were written by Jennifer Glagov. She has an MA in Music History, Literature and Theory from the University of Chicago, and a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters from the University of Michigan. She is currently the Program Annotator and Director of Marketing and Communications at Music of the Baroque in Chicago.

  • Symphony No. 5
  • Along with forever altering Russia’s political landscape, Joseph Stalin and his supporters had a lasting impact on culture as well - a fact made plain by Dmitri Shostakovich’s career. For Shostakovich, the turning point was perhaps his 1934 opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. The story of a nineteenth-century woman who is driven to adultery - and finally murder - by the boredom of her life, the gritty and realistic drama is brought to life with music that is modernist and highly original. The work was a huge success upon its debut in Leningrad and Moscow and was subsequently performed more than 100 times over the next two years. Less than a month after Stalin first saw the opera in 1936, however, the newspaper Pravda issued a scathing criticism of his music, ultimately warning that if the composer didn’t change his approach, "things will turn out badly for him" - a particularly menacing warning at a time when thousands were being sent to labor camps. Shostakovich reportedly kept a packed suitcase next to his front door. 
    It was in this artistic climate that Shostakovich created his Symphony No. 5. While the symphony deviates from the music that Stalin was encouraging - straightforward, folk-like works that overtly encouraged the state’s agenda - it is an audible reversal on the musical path down which Shostakovich had been heading. The Fifth was an immediate success, reportedly receiving a standing ovation that lasted for 40 minutes. One critic declared the work "a Soviet artist’s reply to just criticism" - a phrase that quickly became the symphony’s unofficial subtitle - and an unofficial biography detailing Shostakovich’s transformation into a Communist artist was appended. Although he seemingly accepted these viewpoints, exactly how much Shostakovich ever embraced Stalinist doctrine has been hotly contested. As his controversial collection of memoirs - Testimony, as recounted by Solomon Volkov - notes, "I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under have to be a complete oaf not to hear that."

    Tension is present in the Fifth Symphony from the start, emanating in part from the sharp musical contrasts that abound in the work. In the opening Moderato, a nervous, fretting melody in the violins eventually cedes control to a menacing, driving march. The ensuing Allegretto recalls the scherzos of earlier symphonists - and its pastiche-like combination of melodic fragments and use of solo instruments strongly recalls the music of Mahler as well. Raw emotion and lyrical melody propel the slow movement, prompting comparisons to a threnody, or song of mourning. Shostakovich called the finale "the optimistic resolution of the tragically tense moments of the first movement." He later said that there was "no rejoicing" in the final movement. As one of his contemporaries wrote after hearing the work’s premiere, the last movement is nothing short of "irreparable tragedy."

    Program notes were written by Jennifer Glagov. She has an MA in Music History, Literature and Theory from the University of Chicago, and a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters from the University of Michigan. She is currently the Program Annotator and Director of Marketing and Communications at Music of the Baroque in Chicago.


Masterworks 2

Beethoven's heroic Symphony No. 3, Eroica, marks the beginning of the Romantic era, breaking through many of the barriers and constraints of previous music. You'll be immediately transported to a place of exaltation. The resplendent Sibelius Violin Concerto is beloved by audiences and performers alike for its dreamlike beauty. You'll also experience the world premiere of a symphony by American composer Jerry Bilik. Add the talent of two of the world's most in-demand artists, conductor Perry So and violinist Leila Josefowicz, and this concert has it all.

Featured Artists:

Perry So

Perry So, conductor

Leila Josefowicz

Program Click on "Notes" for Program Notes

  • Symphony in M-L (World Premiere)
  • American composer, conductor and arranger Jerry Bilik is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and a composition student of Hungarian composer and violist Tibor Serly, who was in turn Béla Bartók's confidant and best-known student. Bilik's compositions range from popular ballads to marches to the Symphony in M-L.  He has composed extensively for school bands and orchestras.

    Bilik originally created the Symphony in M-L as a tribute to Serly, who was fatally struck by a bus in London on his way to receive a great honor from Hungary. Bilik never programmed the Symphony until, wonderfully impressed by the Sarasota Orchestra, he revised it specifically for this premiere. "Symphony in M-L is, on the surface, a conventional work in three movements, based on and adhering to classical structures - First movement, Sonata Allegro Form; Second movement, Song Form; third movement, Rondo Form. It is centered around the traditional sound of C major, but actually is based on a new, contemporary theory of music developed by the friend and pupil of Béla Bartók, Mr. Tibor Serly, which he entitled Modus Lascivus - hence the 'ML' of the title.

    "In Modus Lascivus, the twelve chromatic tones are divided in a new and different way, so, within this Symphony, while the note 'C' seems to be the tonal center (at least in the first and last movements), very seldom do the notes of the C-major scale appear in the conventional manner. Nevertheless, despite the unique and extensive application of the new tonal organization employed in Modus Lascivus, it is the intention of the composer that the piece be perceived through the normal elements of melody, rhythm, and harmony but with a slightly different 'modal twist' that hopefully gives it a new and fresh taste."

    Program notes are written by Elizabeth and Joseph Kahn. Elizabeth studied musicology at Brandeis University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Joseph Kahn is professor emeritus from North Carolina State University. For ten years, he hosted a classical music program on Raleigh's WCPE and gave pre-concert lectures for the North Carolina Symphony's Raleigh series.

  • Violin Concerto in D Minor
  • When Sweden relinquished Finland to the Russian Empire in 1809, it became an autonomous duchy with significant control over its own affairs. But in 1870 Tsar Alexander II gradually began whittling away the Finns' privileges and autonomy. While Swedish had continued to be the language of the educated and of the middle class, Russian repression aroused strong nationalist feelings and initiated a revival of the Finnish language. Jean Sibelius was born into this nationalistic environment and in 1876 enrolled in the first grammar school to teach in the Finnish language.

    Sibelius was by no means a child prodigy. He began playing piano at nine, didn't like it and took up the violin at 14. Although he also started composing at ten, Sibelius's ambition was to become a concert violinist and throughout his adult life regretted not following his dream. Lifelong addiction to alcohol produced a persistent tremor in his hands that precluded a concert career.

    Sibelius's first success as a composer came in 1892 with a nationalistic symphonic poem/cantata titled Kullervo, Op. 7. The work met with great praise but was never again performed in his lifetime. During the next six years, he composed music for numerous nationalistic pageants, symphonic poems and vocal works, mostly based on the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. In appreciation and in order to enable him to compose undisturbed, the Finnish governing council gave Sibelius a pension for life in 1897. For the next 28 years he composed the symphonies and other orchestral works that made him famous. In 1926, at the age of 60, he suddenly ceased composing for reasons never disclosed – although probably from the combined ravages of alcoholism and bipolar disorder. His pen remained silent until his death, 31 years later.

    Sibelius wrote the Violin Concerto as a testimony to his failed ambition to become a violinist, pouring into it every known technical difficulty and then some. Composed on a commission in 1903, it was premiered in Helsinki to mixed reviews and then withdrawn. Sibelius forbade the performance of the first version, which was eventually released by the composer's family in 1989, when it was finally recorded. Violinist Karl Halir, under the baton of Richard Strauss, premiered Sibelius's thoroughly revised version in 1905 in Berlin.

    The First movement is by far the weightiest. It explores Sibelius's particular take on sonata form with the themes evolving from one another without a true development section. It opens with the soloist introducing a stunning theme that is continually broken up into its motivic elements – particularly the opening three notes – and transformed throughout the movement. The orchestra introduces a second theme, which Sibelius subsequently uses as a refrain. Rather than constructing the movement as a continual dialogue between soloist and orchestra in the standard concerto style, Sibelius intersperses the movement with several cadenza-like passages, beginning with the opening. The principal cadenza at the end of the movement is based mainly on the opening theme and requires spectacular technical virtuosity.

    The second movement has been occasionally called too sentimental and self-indulgent. It is unusual in the amount of music given to the violin in its lowest register and – as much as Sibelius himself would have cringed to hear it – resembles closely the expansive emotive utterings of Tchaikovsky.

    Predictably, the final movement is technically thrilling and exceptionally challenging. It focuses on two themes, the first introduced by the soloist accompanied only by an insistent ostinato in the timpani and the basses. Its second theme has a lumbering rhythm, once described as "A Polonaise for polar bears." Towards the end, the violin repeats the first theme in eerie harmonics.

    Program notes are written by Elizabeth and Joseph Kahn. Elizabeth studied musicology at Brandeis University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Joseph Kahn is professor emeritus from North Carolina State University. For ten years, he hosted a classical music program on Raleigh's WCPE and gave pre-concert lectures for the North Carolina Symphony's Raleigh series.

  • Symphony No. 3 (Eroica)
  • Few musical manuscripts have elicited so much musicological discussion as has Beethoven's personal conductor's copy of his Symphony No. 3. The story of its original dedication to Napoleon, the chief military defender of the French Revolution with its ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and the subsequent violent erasure of the dedication when Napoleon crowned himself emperor, has been told time and again.

    Reality, however, is often more complex than history books would have it. Beethoven was clearly disgusted at Napoleon's coronation, exclaiming: "Is he then, too, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he, too, will trample on all the rights of man... become a tyrant." But his disappointment with the Emperor was tinged in no small part by self-interest. Hoping at the time to establish a foothold in the musical life of Paris, the composer had planned to travel there with his mentor, Prince Lobkowitz, using the premiere of the Symphony as a passport to the French capital and lucrative commissions. Napoleon's coup, and the resultant political upheavals, disrupted these plans and are the probable reason why the Symphony, finished at the beginning of 1804, did not receive its premiere in Vienna until a year later.

    One of the most fascinating aspects of the Symphony is how Beethoven – who had surprising difficulty coming up with melodies – was able to make so much out of so little. The opening theme is nothing more than an arpeggiated E-flat major chord; the Scherzo theme is a descending E-flat major scale; and the theme for the Finale is a brief simple bass pattern that he had used three times previously – in the Piano Variations, Op. 35, in one of his Contredanses (WoO. 14, no. 7) and in the grand finale of his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43 – repeated beneath a set of spectacular variations. Only the second movement, the Funeral March, begins with a fully formed theme.

    It is hard for us today to appreciate the revolutionary impact of this symphony on Vienna's audience. The constantly modulating keys, rhythmic shifts, large dynamic leaps and unfamiliar harmonies baffled Beethoven's friendly but conservative public, and the reception was anything but enthusiastic. It took a few years for the Viennese to warm to this innovative work.

    Although it would take many pages of in-depth musical analysis to explain what was so different and disturbing about this Symphony, here are some highlights that we now take for granted after over 200 years of development and change in Western music:

    To begin with, there is the sheer scope of the work. The first movement follows a complex and at times astonishing key structure, whose wanderings and surprises blur the distinctions between the basic components of sonata form. The coda, for example, is another mini-development in a distant key.
    The Andante, entitled "Funeral March for a Hero," counters even the most poignant Mozartian second movement with a totally new depth of emotional intensity and grandeur. The Scherzo – an earlier Beethoven invention to replace the sometimes stately, sometimes thumping minuets of Mozart and Haydn – breaks with tradition in its Trio, scored as a section solo for the horns.

    Instead of creating a sprightly and upbeat rondo in the style of his predecessors, Beethoven gives a weight and importance to the Finale that would inspire both his own future symphonic writing (culminating in the Ninth Symphony) and that of his successors. The theme is nothing more than a skeleton, actually more a ground bass than a true melody. The variations that constitute this lengthy movement are also quite new in structure. While variation forms tended to be somewhat static, adhering throughout to a single key and the standard phrase length of the original theme, Beethoven includes variations in different keys and of varying lengths; he even breaks away from the variations altogether for a while in the middle of the movement. Whereas most sets of variations progress steadily from the simple to the complex – or, at least, the more ornamented – Beethoven was less interested in bravura than in giving each variation its own mood, for which he also employed an innovative use of orchestral solos and ensembles.

    Program notes are written by Elizabeth and Joseph Kahn. Elizabeth studied musicology at Brandeis University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Joseph Kahn is professor emeritus from North Carolina State University. For ten years, he hosted a classical music program on Raleigh's WCPE and gave pre-concert lectures for the North Carolina Symphony's Raleigh series.

Snow Globe

Great Escapes 2

Tickets from $36 | seat layout

Don’t let the Grinch steal your holiday spirit. There may not be snow in Florida, but the Orchestra will get you in the holiday mood with delightful favorites, including The Nutcracker, Carol of the Bells, The Snow Maiden, The Holly and the Ivy and more.

Photo: John Miller, principal bass

Featured Artists:

Andrew Lane

Andrew Lane, conductor

Program Wednesday & Friday Programs include ONLY the starred pieces

  • Dance of the Tumblers from The Snow Maiden
  • Dream Pantomime from Hänsel and Gretel
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker Suite
  • Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming)
  • Allegretto from Palladio: Concerto grosso for Strings
  • Christmas at the Movies
  • Holiday Fanfare Medley No. 1
  • Arr. DAVIS
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
  • A Klezmer Nutcracker
  • A Christmas Festival

Crazy For Classics

Great Escapes 3

Tickets from $36 | seat layout

We’re all crazy for great, memorable music. In this survey of all-time favorites, we share wonderful music you know and love, from Flight of the Bumblebee to Sleeping Beauty, and from Oklahoma to Blue Danube and Swan Lake. Featuring Bharat Chandra, principal clarinet, performing Mozart.

Photo: Bharat Chandra, principal clarinet

Featured Artists:

Christopher Confessore

Program Wednesday & Friday Programs include ONLY the starred pieces

  • Overture to Nabucco
  • Minuetto from String Quintet in E Major
  • Adagio from Clarinet Concerto in A Major
    Bharat Chandra, clarinet
  • Flight of the Bumblebee from The Tale of Tsar Saltan
  • On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltzes
  • Ballet Suite
  • The Classical JukeBox
  • Oklahoma!
  • Pines of the Appian Way from Pines of Rome

Memories of My Favorite Things

Pops 1

Tickets from $32 | seat layout

Subscribe & Save 25%: Friday Subscription, Saturday Subscription

Featured Artists:

Andrew Lane

Andrew Lane, conductor

Norm Lewis

Norm Lewis, vocals

This unique concert of Broadway music showcases the brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Guest vocalist Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera) performs a variety of songs from musicals including Sound of Music, Cats, Carousel, Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, plus other favorites.

Read more $32 & Up

Musical Musings

Read our blog about the Sarasota Orchestra.


There's no doubt, audiences are thrilled by the Sarasota Orchestra's new music director, Anu Tali. She's brought an intense energy from the orchestra in previous performances and we found this yet again in a downright thrill ride of an encounter...

Written byHerald Tribune

Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.

Written byHerald Tribune

Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.

Written byHerald Tribune

The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...

Written byHerald Tribune

A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.

Written byHerald Tribune

It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.

Written byHerald Tribune

Tali conveyed a clear vision for the dramatic outline of this symphony, carefully pacing the darker, searching character of the music with pastoral conversations among voices in the orchestra.

Written byHerald Tribune

If you haven’t seen Tali yet, this will be a great introduction to the skyrocketing conductor who’s quickly becoming a household name around the world. You’ll see why we feel we’re lucky to have her here.

Written byThe Observer

Andrew Lane, the Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, knows how to program a winning event and this concert had something for everyone. It also brought in a whole new audience that seemed dazzled by the performances.

Written byThe Observer

The Sarasota Orchestra played a program this past weekend filled with so much color, it was like visiting the Louvre.

Written byThe Observer

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