The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is Central Florida’s resident professional orchestra, appearing in more than 125 performances each season. The Philharmonic’s mission is to foster and promote symphonic music through excellence in performance, education and cultural leadership. The Orlando Philharmonic proudly enters its 20th anniversary season in the 2012-2013 season, led by Christopher Wilkins in his eighth season as Music Director.
The flagship series of the Orlando Philharmonic is the Super Series. This series is comprised of ten concerts, featuring the best of classics and pops, and includes five matinee performances to offer patrons even more entertainment options. With classics concerts featuring the Mahler Symphony No. 3; the music of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Mendelssohn; along with the music of more contemporary composers; and Pops programs including Wicked Divas, Home for the Holidays, My Funny Valentine, Cirque de la Symphony and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the Philharmonic’s Super Series offers something for everyone.
The Orlando Philharmonic’s five-concert Sounds of Summer Series has become a Central Florida tradition. This popular chamber music series highlights the musicians of the Philharmonic with diverse programs of fabulous music. The Philharmonic’s four-concert Focus Series programs focus on a single theme and feature works of a variety of composers, highlighting the best of the chamber orchestra repertoire in an interesting “in the round” setting. Discourse from the conductor enhances the music with an educational element. Additionally, the Orlando Philharmonic performs numerous full-orchestra outdoor fall and spring community pops concerts. Performed in partnerships with municipalities throughout the region, these concerts are offered at no cost to the public.
When the Orlando Opera closed its doors in 2009, the Philharmonic recognized the importance of keeping opera alive in the Central Florida community. In 2010, the Philharmonic took on this new endeavor and performed two operas, Carmen and Porgy and Bess. In 2011, the Philharmonic performed La Bohème, followed by Verdi’s Rigoletto in 2012. This year, the orchestra will produce two operas: Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The goal of the Philharmonic’s opera program is to preserve opera as an art form, and maintain jobs for the Philharmonic musicians, local performers and stage crew, while recapturing patron passion and philanthropy for the opera.
As an educational resource, the Orlando Philharmonic annually performs 26 Young People’s Concerts for over 56,000 third, fourth and fifth grade students from Orange, Seminole, and Osceola County Public School, private, and home school students at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. The Philharmonic’s program for pre-school age children, Tiny Tots, is now in its 10th season. This program, which is presented in area nursery schools, provides an introduction to the world of classical music in a format that is entertaining, educational and fun. Notes in Your Neighborhood is similar to Tiny Tot’s, but geared towards at-risk middle school students. These students have the opportunity to enroll in their school’s string program upon completion. Additionally, the Philharmonic hosts an annual Young Composer’s Challenge. Open to aspiring composers ages 13 – 18 throughout the United States, this program provides students with an extensive workshop with renowned composers, followed by a composition challenge for orchestral and chamber works. Winning compositions are performed by the Orlando Philharmonic, and winning composers receive cash prizes.
A hallmark of the Philharmonic’s success has been a commitment to financial stewardship. At over $3 million, the Orlando Philharmonic has one of the largest endowments of any cultural institution in Central Florida. Nonetheless, as we move into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in the near future, the Board of Directors recognizes that a major endowment campaign is a priority in the near future. In 2012, the orchestra launched its 20/20 Vision campaign for Symphonic Music and Opera. This campaign aims to raise $20 million over the next five years, beginning in the 20th Anniversary Season. Funds will support general operating expenses, increase the orchestra’s endowment, and create a new endowment for opera.
The Philharmonic strives to initiate community collaborations. Since its inception, the orchestra has partnered with the Orlando Opera, Orlando Ballet, the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, Florida Young Artists Orchestra, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, Bethune Cookman University, the University of Central Florida, Stetson University, the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation, Mad Cow Theatre, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, the Orange County Regional History Center and many other prominent organizations.