Florida Orchestra debuts in Gainesville


Pianist Lilya Zilberstein plays two concertos during the Florida Orchestra performance Friday night at the Phillips Center.

Courtesy of Florida Orchestra
Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 9:45 p.m.
Wouldn't it be nice if our area had a complete seasonal orchestra series like our big-city brethren? Well, it looks as if one is being cobbled together out of various components.
First, you have the local heroes, the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra. But, due to paltry local support, its season remains abbreviated. The orchestra's size also has limited its repertoire.
For larger-scale works, we have the series, also short, of University of Florida's student orchestra.
The UF Performing Arts series brings another dimension to our musical universe, but its inclusion of a few touring orchestras each season, while much valued, hardly provides a basis for local identity.
Now enters the Florida Orchestra in a three-concert season that begins Friday at the Phillips Center. It is offering a Rachmaninoff/Ravel program, one of a trio of such concerts presented this month in its home base in the Tampa Bay area.
If this arrangement continues, it could help round out that complete orchestral season we were envisioning, bringing in an 80-musician membership that can span the entire repertoire.
"We're doing this very much on our own," Music Director Stefan Sanderling said, "but we really want to see if we can put Gainesville on our radar, to see where this can go. We're hopeful that we show up on theirs, too, but I know this will take a lot of investment of people's efforts."
Sanderling, 40, is the son of Kurt Sanderling, who - now 92 and living in Berlin - once led the Leningrad Philharmonic.
The Florida Orchestra's newest music director came on board in 2003, following the 14-year tenure of Jahja Ling.
Friday's concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and will feature pianist Lilya Zilberstein in two concertos by Rachmaninoff, Nos. 4 and 2, along with Ravel's "La Valse."
Sanderling calls Zilberstein one of Europe's top pianists. "We had teamed up before in France, in Rennes, when we did all of Chopin's works for piano and orchestra," he said.
Before coming to Florida, Sanderling had served as the chief conductor of the Orchestra de Bretagne in Rennes, as well as the orchestra in Mainz, Germany. He's guest conducted for many major European and American orchestras.
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sanderling plans to lead a free pre-performance discussion.
  • The UF School of Music presents the fourth annual Steinway Piano Festival starting today. The event will showcase several top young pianists from around the world in public recitals tonight, Saturday and Monday evenings in University Auditorium.
    An additional recital takes place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Phillips Center.
    In part, the Steinway festival is an offshoot of the International Certificate for Piano Artists, a consortium of resources from the Ecole Normale de Musique "Alfred Cortot" of Paris, the Fondation Bell'Arte of Brussels and UF's College of Fine Arts.
    This is the first time the program's cooperative instruction process has been held at UF. Masterclass instructors are Nelson Delle-Vigne of Italy, Jean Michel-Damase of France, UF's Boaz Sharon and internationally prominent pianist/conductor Phillipe Entremont.
    No instructors are scheduled to take part in the recitals, but Entremont will present a lecture on Friday evening at UF's Keene Faculty Center.
    Actually, all events are open to the public, but the recitals should be of major interest.
  • First Presbyterian Church continues its concert series at 4 p.m. Sunday with an organ recital by the church's music director, Mark Coffey. Included will be works by Bach, Buxtehude, Franck and Vierne. The recital is free.
    David Grundy can be reached at dmgrundy@aol.com.
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