For 25 years, Artist Series Concerts has been bringing acclaimed concert artists from around the world to perform in Sarasota, while also showcasing the best in local talent. When the ongoing pandemic forced indoor venues to shutter and upended entire performance seasons, the organization joined the ranks of performing arts presenters and artists across the country scrambling for other ways to keep the music playing. For Artist Series Concerts, it was literally the open air.
“Oddly enough, it took COVID-19 and the closing of indoor venues to push us to present the first outdoor concerts ever in our 25 years,” says executive director Marcy Miller. The forced experiment took place last fall, with the organization’s first three outdoor concerts (at Selby Gardens and Historic Spanish Point), selling out and leaving audiences begging for more. “It was clear after our third open-air concert that outside is the place to be right now,” says Miller.
The organization quickly secured more dates at Selby Gardens and Nathan Benderson Park and set about putting together a new schedule and a new roster of artists to fill vacancies left by those touring artists whose scheduled performances have had to be postponed. “We’re so grateful for the venues, patrons, artists, and climate that have enabled us to put this revised outdoor season together.” says Miller.
Fortunately, and thanks to this area’s wealth of local musical talent, filling in dates for the revamped season was a relatively smooth task. “For most of this ‘new’ season, we’ve actually been able to retain several of the artists who were already in the area and on the roster for this winter and spring, and who were able to adjust their schedules to the various changes in ours,” says Joseph Holt, director of artist programs. “One challenge to putting this revised season together was maintaining an interesting variety of musical styles and genres,” adds Holt, who worked with all of the artists to put the new lineup together. “I think once again, we’ve succeeded in offering something for everyone—opera, pops, classical, and a world of jazz!”
The nine-concert lineup includes:
Baritone Todd Thomas with Joseph Holt, piano: Local favorite Todd Thomas returns to perform an assortment of light popular tunes from musical theatre, cabaret, and more.
Rising Stars of Sarasota: Alex Garcia, French horn; Sara Hutchinson, euphonium; Ben Rosasco, trombone; and Katie Terres, soprano; with Joseph Holt, piano: A special concert showcasing the exceptional talent of four of the area’s finest young musicians, performing works by Scarlatti, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Marin Marais, and more.
Amore – The Greatest Love Songs with vocalist Anthony Nunziata and pianist Bobby Peaco: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, “romantic singing sensation” and Artist Series Concerts favorite Anthony Nunziata returns with a brand-new show featuring some of music’s greatest odes to love.
Women of Note: A Celebration of Female Voices and Female Composers with Jenny Kim-Godfrey, soprano; Robyn Rocklein, mezzo-soprano; Joseph Holt, piano; and narration by Marcy Miller: Noted area sopranos Jenny Kim-Godfrey and Robyn Rocklein are joined by pianist Joseph Holt and narrator Marcy Miller as they reprise their roles in a live performance of the program recorded on video last summer as part of Florida Studio Theatre’s Suffragist Project.
The Glenn Miller Sound with Rick Costa’s Jazz Sextet, featuring vocalist Walt Andrus (with Lew Del Gatto, sax; Dan Miller, trumpet; Don Mopsick, bass; Rick Costa, percussion; pianist to be announced): An ensemble of six top area jazz musicians, including Tommy Dorsey Orchestra vocalist Walt Andrus, pays musical tribute to the swinging sounds of the ’40s.
World of Jazz with Bill Buchman’s Art of Jazz Quintet: Buchman’s quintet, featuring Buchman on piano, Rick Aaron on flute, and Bennet Capoverde on conga, presents a program of exotic melodies and rhythms from the diverse musical cultures of the jazz world.
Ventures in Brass with the Venice Symphony Brass Quintet (Aaron Romm and Derek Blankenship, trumpet; Robert Moore, horn; Joe Offner, trombone; Joseph Alvarez, tuba): Offering a musical smorgasbord covering everything from jazz and standard brass quintet literature to Bach and Broadway.
Heat Latin Jazz Band: Heat Latin Jazz Band is a vibrant seven-piece salsa/Latin jazz group featuring students from Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers. They cover a variety of traditional Latin music, including salsa classics, Latin jazz, and original compositions.
Maria Wirries with Alan J. Corey, piano: She’s back! Emerging Broadway artist and local singing sensation Maria Wirries makes a return visit home to perform a selection of favorite and familiar tunes from Broadway and the world of jazz.
For more information on the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota 25th Anniversary season, click here.