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Biography
The Florida Orchestra’s history is steeped in orchestral tradition from both sides of Tampa Bay. In 1966, the Tampa Philharmonic and St. Petersburg Symphony merged as the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony, which opened its first season on November 14, 1968, under the baton of Music Director Irwin Hoffman. Performing as the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony until changing its name to The Florida Orchestra in 1984, the orchestra has since been led by music directors Jahja Ling and Stefan Sanderling. In June 2014, The Florida Orchestra announced Michael Francis as its music director designate.

Recently, the orchestra has had a series of successes. In the fall of 2011, The Florida Orchestra launched a multi-year cultural exchange with the Cuban Institute of Music as well as its Accessibility Initiative, which effectively reduced ticket prices to all of its Masterworks and Pops concerts. In addition, the orchestra has announced a variety of partnerships and projects that further engage the orchestra with the Tampa Bay community, including a collaboration with the Tampa Bay Lightning to produce the team’s theme song, Be the Thunder. Another exciting accomplishment for the orchestra was the release of a CD on the Naxos label in the fall of 2012. Featuring music by Florida-influenced classical composer Frederick Delius, the recording includes The Florida Orchestra, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, and baritone Leon Williams in a performance of Delius’ Sea Drift and Appalachia.

The Florida Orchestra is recognized as Tampa Bay’s leading performing arts institution, one of the leading professional symphony orchestras in Florida, and one of the most vibrant orchestras in America. Through extraordinary musical performances, the orchestra inspires the people of Tampa Bay and serves as a leader and beacon for the musical arts throughout the state. Regardless of where performances occur, The Florida Orchestra is committed to serving the entire Tampa Bay area.
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