Sarasota Orchestra was founded by and for the community, and now stands as the longest continuously performing orchestra in Florida. In its 70-year history, five music directors have contributed to the Orchestra’s evolution and artistic growth: Lyman Wiltse, Alexander Bloch, Paul Wolfe, Leif Bjaland, and Anu Tali. The leadership and vision of each successive music director have propelled the organization to a pivotal moment as Sarasota Orchestra prepares to embark on a journey to a new home. On behalf of the community it serves, Sarasota Orchestra now leads an effort to establish a new Music Center and Concert Hall that will accelerate its mission to transform lives through the power of music. By fulfilling a critical need for a dedicated acoustic music space in Sarasota, the new facility will be a destination for residents and visitors from around the world and will increase the Orchestra’s educational programs for more young people to fulfill their musical interests. By illuminating and amplifying Sarasota’s rhythm, pulse, and vibrancy, the new Music Center will strengthen Sarasota’s cultural brand and its economic and civic vitality.
1,500 children attended the first Children's Concerts program in 1953. Called the Young Person’s Concerts today, this educational initiative combines classroom curriculum with interactive performances that awaken young minds to classical music. The Young Person’s Concerts now give 10,000 fourth- and fifth-grade students an introduction to classical music education each year.
The Orchestra gives its very first public performance as the Florida West Coast Symphony, realizing founder Ruth Cotton Butler’s dream to enrich the Sarasota-Manatee area with an active community orchestra.
The Youth Orchestra Program is founded. Today the program supports eight ensembles that engage 340 third- through 12th-grade students in a 30-week season of rehearsals and public concerts.
The launch of the Sarasota Music Festival begins the community’s role in training the next generation of classical musicians, making Sarasota a hub for the world’s rising stars of classical music.
The Florida West Coast Symphony rebrands as Sarasota Orchestra. The first season under the new name introduces innovative concert series and formats that resonate with new and expanded audiences.
Sarasota Orchestra sets a plan to build a dedicated Music Center that offers a transformative vision for the future of the Orchestra, of the arts in our community, and of Sarasota as a classical music destination.
709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236