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Florida Orchestra Welcomes 'Serenity' Seekers

Composer Ahmed Alabaca
Ahmed Alabaca
Composer Ahmed Alabaca

The Florida Orchestra is performing special music to recognize a year of COVID-19 and inviting listeners to drink in serene music.

This weekend, the Florida Orchestra is putting on a concert called Serenity.

The trio of performances will feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto, Op. 9 No. 2, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight, and Ahmed Alabaca’s Across the Calm Waters of Heaven-A Piece For Peace.

That last piece was inspired by the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California in 2015. Ahmed Alabaca said rather than have it be a mournful homage to the victims, they wanted it to be a kind of celebration of their “beautiful lives.”

“So, I wanted to write a piece to really uplift people who've gone through something like that, or who if you're a family member of someone, or if you're just an empathetic person, and you're just like, this is a terrible situation. Here's some music to kind of lift you out of that,” Alabaca said.

They said that hope is the center of the work. And they hope this music will also help to start a dialogue about gun safety in the community.

And as for it being on this specific program, Alabaca said it's fitting that the concert should fall on “almost the one year anniversary of going into COVID big-time.”

Music Director Michael Francis said this concert is important to him.

“We have experienced 12 months unlike anything before. Not since the Second World War has a single event affected so many people. As we begin to move forward together with optimism, we wanted to curate an event that gives us a chance to pause and reflect. This concert is a haven: a serene musical space for peace, beauty and contemplation."

Francis also spoke about the inclusion of the Barber Adagio, which has often been connected to public mourning. It was used for the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy.

“The Barber Adagio is a work of art that has transcended classical music. A hauntingly beautiful musical arc that expresses such emotional profundity, and — through the final major key chord — such luminescent hope,” Francis wrote.

The concerts are at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. You can find ticket information and livestream options at floridaorchestra.org.

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.
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