Musical Musings

The Sarasota Orchestra Blog

The orchestral music community is small and close-knit. To create a level playing field and ensure fairness, orchestra auditions occur behind a curtain. When Sarasota Orchestra’s most recent auditions for a section bassist ended, Principal Bass John Miller was overjoyed to find out the winning performance had been rendered by his former student, Reed Tucker.

None of our 2019/2020 Masterworks season's seven visitors are strangers to the spotlight, and all have earned tremendous acclaim for their work on the podium. Read on to find out what journalists and classical music critics are saying about our amazing Masterworks guest conductors! And don't forget: There's still time to subscribe to the series and save up to 35% off Masterworks single ticket prices. 

As orchestras everywhere honor the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in their 2019-2020 seasons, Sarasota Orchestra has infused this year’s concert series with the composer’s ingenious musical creations. Audiences will experience the might of his symphonies and piano concertos in the Orchestra’s Masterworks and Discover Beethoven series, as well as the innovative brilliance of his chamber works in Chamber Soirees. Even in the Orchestra’s crowd-pleasing Pops and Great Escapes, concert-goers will feel the sense of eternal hope that defines Beethoven’s staying power.

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Beethoven looms larger than life in the collective imagination—take it from the title of Saturday’s concert, Three Titans, which features an early Beethoven work, the Octet in E-flat Major for winds. We spoke with two members of the octet who prepare to share the work with Festival audiences this week: oboe faculty Nancy Ambrose King and horn Fellow Austin Ruff.

The Sarasota Orchestra today announced that Jeffrey Kahane signed a three-year contract renewal as Music Director of the Sarasota Music Festival. Kahane was also appointed as Artistic Advisor for Sarasota Orchestra while a search is underway for a new music director.

The theme of this week’s Festival Concert on Friday, June 14, centers around large-ensemble chamber works. The program opens aptly with Dixtuor by Jean Françaix, a prolific composer of the 20th century. Dixtour is the French word for the decet—an ensemble of 10 musicians! Françaix’s example masterfully balances a wind quintet against a string quintet. Between their first and second rehearsals of this remarkable work, we sat down with flutist and longtime Festival faculty artist Carol Wincenc and viola Fellow Mark Liu to talk about the process of bringing 10 different instruments together in perfect harmony.

This weekend’s Saturday Symphony holds a rare treat for Festival fans as four Fellows team up on the solo violin parts of Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in B Minor from L’Estro Armonico (which translates rather poetically to “the harmonic inspiration”). We were lucky enough to gather all four of them together to chat about festival life, as well as the particular challenges and sheer fun coming up for them in Saturday’s concert. 

Nathan Hughes is principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera and faculty member of The Juilliard School. He joins Sarasota Music Festival’s faculty artists this year for the first time and will be showcased on SMF’s first Friday Festival Concert in a performance of Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C Major. When we caught up with Nathan on the Festival’s second day, however, we found out his connections to Sarasota Music Festival go back 22 years when he was a Festival Fellow!

“As always, it’s extremely difficult to talk about ‘highlights’ when there are so many of them in a very short space of time. But these concerts are a great guide as to what I think are the outstanding moments of this year’s Festival.”

“I chose these selections because they offer a variety of things that happen during SMF. Observing over the years what the most popular festival pass patron events, these highlights offer our new festival pass patrons a great sample of exciting and enriching options.”

Music is like a language all its own—and that language comes with its own special dictionary! Even the specific genre of movie music has generated unique terminology for the ways film scores pull audiences into the drama on-screen. When you add these terms to your music vocabulary, you’ll head to Sarasota Orchestra’s Hollywood Hits concert a newly-minted film music buff.

Much of the world loves to paint Judy Garland as a tragic figure, a stage-and-screen supernova whose impetuous light burned so fiercely it was destined to suddenly gutter out. There are those who believe Garland and her appetite for life were her own undoing. Others blame her premature decline and fatal overdose (in 1969, at age 47) on decades of being eaten alive by an unforgiving industry. Thanks to journalist Herbert Kretzmer, we know Garland herself rejected the notion that she was born under a bad star.

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Written byHerald Tribune

 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 byThe Observer

 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.  

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