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Florida Orchestra Music Director Takes On Additional Conducting Job in Germany

Matt Dine
Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis

Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis is adding a new job title — principal conductor of the German Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz.

Music Director Michael Francis will remain at the helm of the Florida Orchestra, as he recently signed a contract extension that runs until 2024.   

But he was recently named principal conductor of the German Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, which is based near Frankfurt, Germany. 

"In December 2016, I made my debut with them, a terrific orchestra, what’s classified as an A-plus orchestra in Germany," Francis said. "And they enjoyed working with me and they decided for this season coming, they wanted me to be their artist director-in-residence."

He likens the post to “chief conductor for a year.”

“Working in Germany is quite different from here, not better, not worse, just allows me to do what I like and want to do, which is to build orchestras and communities,” Francis said.

Francis said this position will in no way detract from his work in the Tampa Bay community.

“Every conductor has a busy guest conducting life. So I will do my usual 12 weeks or so here, including the other things outside of the Masterworks, and most of the other time when I’m not here, I’m away conducting anyway.”

Francis says in some ways, this just brings more structure to his life, because he’ll only be conducting one orchestra when he’s not in town with the Florida Orchestra, instead of many orchestras.   

He said The Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz is fully-funded by the government, and as such, “means we’re going to play to many, many different cities, but to really show the power of music and impact lives in a positive way.”

The orchestra was formed just after World War I, presenting its first concert in 1920. 

“Can you imagine that, one of the first things they choose to do after the calamity of the First World War for the German people was to build an orchestra?” Francis said. “If that doesn’t show the necessity of an orchestra in building a community, I don’t know what does."

"That was one of the first things they did. That is our phoenix, rising from the ashes.”

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