Masterworks 5 guest soloist Aaron Diehl

Image: Maria Jarzyna

“What we do is so personal. It will be very emotional for us to come back together again,” says Betsy Hudson Traba, principal flutist for Sarasota Orchestra. She is a member of the woodwind section, which includes flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon—all instruments that require the musician to blow into them. While members of the string and percussion sections can play their instruments while wearing masks, the woodwinds and brass cannot.

“We innovated in 2020,” says Sarasota Orchestra’s President and CEO Joseph McKenna. “Winds and brass played outdoors in parks. We offered small, masked ensemble performances for limited audiences indoors, with 15 or fewer musicians from the string and percussion sections. We offered streaming access, and we found opportunities to keep the music playing. But what we couldn’t do is hold the full orchestra performances that are such a rich and moving experience for our audiences and our musicians.”

Traba remembers the exact date of the last time the full orchestra played together in front of an audience. It was March 12, 2020. And she knows the exact date it will happen again. The first full performance of the 2021–2022 season will be a Discovery series concert on October 2, 2021. “We are looking forward to being together and to walking out in front of an audience again,” she says.

To be part of the audience and experience the Return to Music with Sarasota Orchestra, you can purchase ticket subscription packages at sarasotaorchestra.org/subscriptions. Subscriptions offer access to premium seating at discounted prices before single tickets go on sale in the fall.

“Rest assured that we are carefully monitoring all available information, safety guidelines, and trends, and we will adjust safety protocols as warranted. We want our audience members to feel comfortable and uplifted as they enjoy this jubilant return to music,” says McKenna.

The 2021–2022 season is comprised of five concert series. Masterworks concerts feature the full orchestra and bring symphonic blockbusters to life alongside vibrant works by contemporary composers. Guest appearances by acclaimed conductors and soloists will include Grammy Award–winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and legendary pianist Garrick Ohlsson. Highlights will include Dvořák’s New World Symphony, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

The Pops series delivers popular favorites and everlasting classics, including music from The Beatles, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook. Sarasota Orchestra musicians will be joined by dynamic vocalists in these performances.

Discoveries 3 guest soloist Ifetayo Ali-Landing

The Discoveries series features 75-minute programs designed to be accessible and intriguing to both newcomers and those experienced with classical music. The series will showcase the music of Mozart and other composers performed by Sarasota Orchestra and rising guest soloists, including pianist Dominic Cheli, cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, and violinist Geneva Lewis.

The Great Escapes series is one of Sarasota Orchestra’s most popular, offering a mix of light classics and popular favorites in themed programs. The coming season includes programs titled the Roaring 20s, Comedy Tonight, Journey on the Orient Express, and Saddles of the Silver Screen. In this series, conductors share stories and commentary throughout each performance.

Chamber Soirées are a series of themed, small-ensemble performances. This season, each program is inspired by a poem and will take an imaginative dive into the play between words and music.

Each series has a unique flavor, and the season as a whole is designed to showcase the breadth and artistry of the Sarasota Orchestra musicians and guest soloists. It will celebrate the vibrant role music plays in creating connections between people and communities. For Traba, it’s all about once again being “in the room where it happens.”

Visit sarasotaorchestra.org for more information on the 2021–2022 season and subscription purchases.

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