Saturday's gala concert in St. Petersburg featuring Michael Feinstein wraps up a busy week for The Florida Orchestra, which is spending a few days on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.
With a slogan of "Like class...but way better," the orchestra is working with USF School of Music students, visiting patients at the Moffitt Cancer Center, and sharing classical music with the public at a concert Thursday evening.
On Tuesday, the orchestra first held an open rehearsal for students, faculty and staff. Then, they played Mozart's Symphony No. 39 alongside the USF Symphony Orchestra. In addition, three students in USF's Conducting Master Class had the chance to pick up the baton and lead the professional musicians.
Florida Orchestra music director Michael Francis said that, in addition to teaching the younger artists, the seasoned performers get a lot out of the experience as well.
"It's very inspiring to see the next generation come up, to see their enthusiasm, for us to work with them - it's always wonderful to mentor people, to give something back," he said.
On Wednesday, the Florida Orchestra performed for patients and staff members in the Moffitt Cancer Center's Stabile Research Building, with several musicians performing private shows for patients who weren't able to attend the larger event.
Francis said this kind of interaction is a vital part of TFO's mission.
"Well, I believe, strongly, that our boundaries are not limited by the size of our concert hall but by the size of our community, so I passionately believe in playing to the community," Francis said. "And one of the big things I've tried to do as a music director coming here is just to really galvanize our community outreach to a new level."
On Thursday evening, Francis and some of his musicians will share insights about Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and take questions from the audience before playing the complete work. The "pay what you can" show is open to the public and starts at 6:30 p.m. in the USF School of Music Concert Hall.
We'll have more on the TFO visit on an upcoming University Beat report.