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Arts / Culture

Sarasota Orchestra To Move Away From Bayfront

The Sarasota Orchestra wants to build a performance space specifically designed for its acoustics and to expand programming.
Daniel Perales Studio
The Sarasota Orchestra

Sarasota Orchestra C-E-O Joseph McKenna said his organization will not be part of the grander vision to alter Sarasota's Bayfront.  McKenna spoke at a City Commission workshop on Monday night.  There, he affirmed that his organization "remains a firm support of the Bayfront master planning process."

"The extended time that it will take for the Bayfront to develop doesn't align with the pressure and the urgency that the orchestra has to sort of relieve the calendar constraint at our six venues,” McKenna said.

A letter to supporters also sited parking and traffic concerns and projected sea level rise along the Bayfront.

Instead, the orchestra is looking for a place that will accommodate a concert hall, the Sarasota Music Festival, and everything else the 70-year-old organization does in the community.

But McKenna says the acoustics must be right. He compares the sound of a Stradivarius in the hands of a musical genius to what they're going for with this new performance hall.

“The hall is actually the instrument of the entire ensemble,” McKenna said, “so having the best acoustic space for the musicians individually as a collective ensemble is what we're trying to achieve with this visionary project.”

McKenna also says this new concert hall will also take the pressure off the orchestra when it comes to scheduling, because they won't have to work their concert timing around other performers at different venues once it is built.

McKenna said they are quietly looking at sites around Sarasota and promises an update to supporters in the summer and fall.

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