Sarasota Orchestra aims to build the next generation of classical music fans
The Sarasota Orchestra has been focusing on broadening its appeal with several engagement initatives including its new 'Guided Tour' concert series.
Inclusion and engagement are major themes in the outreach missions of many local arts groups.
With its 'Guided Tour' series, the Sarasota Orchestra seeks to demystify a musical genre that some people may think is not for them.
"It can feel like there's sort of a club going on that you're not a part of yet and that can be intimidating," said Bharat Chandra, the orchestra's principal clarinetist.
The idea behind the Guided Tour concerts seeks to bridge that gap. The concerts are approximately 75 minutes long and before each piece is performed, the conductor and featured soloist will speak briefly about the music and its composer to give the audience context for what they are about to hear.
"It's a shorter concert that has a lot of music to it, with no intermission, and it’s especially curated to engage people new to the classical music world," Chandra said.
"You can have no experience with music and come away with a great feeling and be assured that your ears are as good as everyone else's and will have an experience that is hopefully very moving and transformative."
The audience engagement initiative was a pilot project initiated by the orchestra's late music director Bramwell Tovey, in an effort to make classical music accessible.
Tovey was music director from September 2021 to July 2022 when he died before he could lead the orchestra through the season.
On Friday February 24, Maestro Kensho Watanabe will be conducting the full orchestra and hosting the evening along with participation from contemporary classical composer Jessica Hunt, and guest soloist, violonist Stefan Jackiw.
The concert will include Hunt’s piece, "Climb,” and two movements from Stravinsky's Violin Concerto along with the opening and closing movement of Aaron Copeland's Third Symphony.
The event includes ticket specials and food trucks will be parked near the lawn at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall before the show.