News & Blog

Orlando Philharmonic Announces Finalists in its Second Annual High School Orchestra of Distinction Program


2015-2016 Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School Orchestra of Distinction winner, Winter Park High School, receiving its award at the Orlando Philharmonic’s final Classics Concert at the Bob Carr Theater on March 26, 2016.

December 1, 2016– The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced five finalists for its second annual High School Orchestra of Distinction program, whose purpose is to provide recognition, encouragement, and support to outstanding and promising high school orchestras in Central Florida. Participants completed a rigorous screening process, being asked to provide information on their past performance assessments, connection to elementary and middle “feeder” schools, parental involvement, and more. Schools getting past the written application stage were asked to submit anonymous, unedited audition tapes that were then assessed by professional musicians, community leaders, and orchestral experts.

The 2016-2017 finalists are (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Phillips High School (Raine Allen, director)

Freedom High School (Brian Hellhake and Suzanne Vascik, directors)

Olympia High School (Brandon Bangle, director)

Timber Creek High School (Staci Conkling, director)

Trinity Preparatory School (Maureen May, director)

“The Orlando Philharmonic is proud to support our local high school orchestras,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education. “The hard work and determination seen on a daily basis by these schools is extraordinary.”

For the final adjudication round, judges will attend each school’s holiday concert, adjudicating schools on both professionalism and performance. Two schools will be chosen as award winners and named the High School Orchestra of Distinction and the High School Orchestra in the Wings. Both awardees will be recognized onstage by the Orlando Philharmonic at its final Classics concert, Mahler 2: Resurrection on Saturday, April 8th at the Bob Carr Theater. These two schools will also qualify for a partnership with the Orlando Philharmonic the following season that offers special student opportunities.

For more information about this program and to learn about the 2015-2016 finalists and awardees, visit or email Director of Education Dr. Leia Barrett at Education at to learn more.


World Premiere by American Composer Lisa Bielawa

Emanuel Ax for TNEW

(November 10, 2016, Orlando, FL) – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by seven-time Grammy winner and piano superstar Emanuel Ax on December 3 at 8 p.m. and December 4 at 2 p.m. Both concerts will be lead by Music Director Eric Jacobsen and will be held at Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, Florida.

This will be Emanuel Ax’s first time performing with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audience members to hear a performance from a world-class musician of his caliber. Ax will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Philharmonic. He has also performed numerous times with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman and is currently on tour in Europe.

“There is no greater ambassador of the piano than the soulful, virtuosic, brilliant and joyous Emanuel Ax,” said Music Director Eric Jacobsen. “To hear him play is to smile and cry and live. I think my favorite facet of Ax’s playing is his humane empathy. He feels, so we feel! The Orlando Philharmonic can’t wait to make music with such a world-renowned artist!”

This concert will also feature the Philharmonic in the world premiere of American composer Lisa Bielawa’s Drama/Self Pity for orchestra. Bielawa is a composer-vocalist and is an active participant in the New York music scene. She and Jacobsen worked together on her latest album, The Lay of the Love, released on Innova in June 2015.

“I’ve had the honor and pleasure of collaborating with Eric Jacobsen in many fulfilling musical contexts over the course of more than 10 years, but this opportunity to enter into the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra community for the first time, with a world premiere, is especially exciting,” said Bielawa. “I’ve created a work for this concert that is playful and bold, to honor both the lighthearted and the dramatic sensibilities of the composers whose works we will hear in this program, and to celebrate this musical friendship – and extend it to a new musical family!”



Ashley Hickman, director of development


Cristina Venturini, digital marketing and communications manager

(November 2, 2016, Orlando, FL) – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced the addition of Director of Development Ashley Hickman and Digital Marketing and Communications Manager Cristina Venturini.

It is with great excitement that we welcome Ashley and Cristina to the Philharmonic staff,” said Executive Director Christopher Barton. “Ashley fills a critical position and will be an important partner in building our base of philanthropic support in the Central Florida community. Cristina plays an important role in our online and digital strategies and she will be key to communicating with the media and public on behalf of the Philharmonic.”

Hickman’s experience in nonprofit philanthropy includes major gift development, capital campaign projects, grant writing, and special event fundraising. She previously served as the director of development for Mad Cow Theatre. Prior to that she worked for the University of Central Florida Foundation in the College of Arts and Humanities and the Historical Society of Central Florida. Hickman holds a Master’s of Arts in Arts Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History & English Literature from Florida State University. She proudly serves on the board for the Central Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“I am thrilled to join the Orlando Philharmonic’s team during such an important period of growth for the organization and am honored to continue to work within Central Florida’s vibrant arts community,” said Hickman. “I look forward to working with our donors and community partners to ensure a strong base of philanthropy for the future.”

Cristina Venturini joined the Philharmonic staff in a part-time role in June 2016 and previously worked as the marketing coordinator for Code School. Prior to that she worked as a project coordinator for AVT Simulation. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Event Management from the University of Central Florida. She is also an amaetur musician and enjoys playing the French horn in her spare time.

“I’m overjoyed to join the staff of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, ” said Venturini. “This is such a wonderful organization and a fantastic time to be part of the arts community in Central Florida. We are already planning the orchestra’s 25th Season and the groundbreaking of Steinmetz Hall is on the horizon. I’m thrilled to be working with the staff, musicians, volunteers and board during this exciting time for the Philharmonic.”


New concert series features Indie Folk, Indie Rock, Blue Grass, Folk, Country, and Classical Music with members of the Orlando Philharmonic

(October 26, 2016) – Orlando, FL – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced a new series called Women In Song at The Plaza Live featuring Ariadne Greif on November 29, Sara Watkins on February 1, 2017 and Aoife O’Donovan on March 1, 2017. All concerts begin at 8 p.m.

“From operatic to indie rock to folk and pop, these concerts feature some of the greatest talents of today performing works of their own and covers of others amazing artists,” said Eric Jacobsen, Orlando Philharmonic music director.

The first concert in the series takes place in the 200-seat theater at The Plaza Live for a more intimate experience and features Greif, songs by Schubert and Dvorak, as well as poetry by Walt Whitman underscored by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Eric Jacobsen will play cello on several pieces. It is a 60-minute performance with no intermission and a bar-hang immediately following the performance.

Tickets are $22 in advance per concert and $27 at the door per concert. Special discount pricing is offered when purchasing all three concerts. For more information, please visit

Live Opera At The Plaza Live

Candide slider


Opening Night Post-performance Q&A With Members Of The Cast

(October 5, 2016, Orlando, FL) – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, the first operetta in the Opera Series on October 13, 14, and 16. Bernstein’s zany operetta takes Candide on a comic adventure around the world. Performances will be at The Plaza Live Theater, 425 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando, Florida.

From the team that brought you last season’s hit production of The Magic Flute, join Maestro Eric Jacobsen and a stellar cast for Bernstein’s operetta, a fully-costumed production sung in English with supertitles. Voltaire’s biting satire of innocence and optimism with Leonard Bernstein’s witty, TONY-award winning score, Candide is the story a young man (Candide) who sets off with his friends to find the true meaning of life. Their exploits along the way, including separation, war, mistaken identity, kidnapping, murder, and a shipwreck, cause them all to question their philosophy that “all is for the best.” In the end, optimism remains, but good sense prevails.

“In this production, Voltaire’s best of all possible worlds becomes the greatest show on Earth, and a modern circus provides a new context in which to explore the humor in violence, the hope in tragedy, our fantasies and our fear” said Alison Moritz, Stage Director.

Music Director Eric Jacobsen and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by Alison Moritz as Stage Director, John Heginbotham as Choreographer, featuring Miles Mykkanen as Candide, Evan Jones as Pangloss, Sharleen Joynt as Cuégonde, Alex Mansoori as Vanderdendur and Samantha Barnes Daniel as Paquette.

Single tickets are also available online at, by calling (407) 770-0071, or in person at the Box Office, located at The Plaza Live (425 N. Bumby Avenue, Orlando). The Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Ticket prices subject to change.)



Eric Jacobsen is hailed by The New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist and has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative projects. Following an international search, Eric Jacobsen was appointed Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in the 2015-2016 Season.

Alison Moritz recent productions have been lauded as “about as gorgeous and accessible as any opera anywhere” (The Commercial Appeal), and her work has been praised for its “incredible economy of resources, lean production design, and eye for jest and banter” by The Orlando Examiner.

John Heginbotham is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, JOHN HEGINBOTHAM is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer, and teacher. He graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993 with a BFA in Dance, and was awarded the Martha Hill Prize for Sustained Achievement in Dance.

Miles Mykkanen has garnered recognition on the world’s concert and operatic stages for his “focused, full-voiced tenor” (The New York Times). Of his performances in Eugene Onegin at the Juilliard School, Opera News wrote, “Mykkanen was a knockout as Lensky. The lyric intensity of his singing made each moment count, and the duel- scene aria was a stretch of sheer vocal gold.

Evan Jones is originally from Buffalo, NY, baritone and has enjoyed a diverse performing career in opera, musical theater, concert, and recital. Mr. Jones currently serves on the voice faculty at Florida State University.

Sharleen Joynt “Coloratura soprano Sharleen Joynt has been praised for her “silvery, sparkling, substantial and resonant soprano” [Die Deutsche Bühne], her “scintillating high range, reminiscent of the most beautiful moments of Mady Mesplé” [Opernwelt], and “an artistic command that leaves the listener breathless” [Deutschland Radio].”



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Opening Night: Russian Masters Insights From Eric


Dearest Orlando,

We’re in full swing here at the Philharmonic! Tchaikovsky rehearsals have started for our Opening Night concert on October 1st! We’re in our new rehearsal hall and it sounds incredible! As always we will open our Season with The Star-Spangled Banner, and because we are featuring the heroic, romantic and poetic Russian composers this year, we will perform the Stravinsky arrangement of this piece. It’s so beautiful and grand! We start the season together in song!

Opening Night is all about LOVE! Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev) and the 4th symphony of Tchaikovsky embody the raw emotions that the Russian composers are so masterful at portraying. You might know that Prokofiev is truly one of the greatest Hollywood composers. His pallet of colors was so vast that he can paint you a landscape with an orchestra! Our soloist Steve Copes arrived today and we can’t wait to jump into the Berg Violin Concerto with him. I think one thing you will notice about his performance is how intimate he makes a stage feel. He is a chamber musician, a communicator and he has the rare ability to make a concert hall feel like a living room. We worked on this piece together in Germany a few years ago and I can’t wait to do it with our great orchestra!

The Berg is a piece of mourning, loss and love and it is devastating. You will definitely hear the sounds of Jazz, Brahms, as well as the fractured pain of loss.

There is a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 from 1929 by the Concertgebouw Orchestra with Mengelberg conducting that has been one of my favorites for years. My teacher was born in 1911, and hearing this reminds me of the type of musical language he was immersed in. This was a world before high speed transportation or internet and it was a time of individualism. Each city had a distinct sounding orchestra!

Looking forward, our next Classics Series concert in December is with seven-time (what?!) Grammy winner and piano Superstar Emanuel Ax. In just a few weeks, the Philharmonic will perform Bernstein’s zany opera Candide at The Plaza Live on October 13, 14, and 16.

I can’t wait to see you all at Opening Night on October 1. It’s going to be an incredibly exciting Season! Orlando deserves the greatest music and I know we will have fun exploring it all together!


Music Director

To purchase tickets for Opening Night click here.

Orlando Philharmonic 2016/17 Season Opening Night



Subscription Tickets Are Still Available for the 2016/17 Season

 (September 12, 2016, Orlando, FL) – On Saturday, October 1, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra begins its 24th season with the Opening Night concert of the 2016-2017 Season, Russian Masters. Featured guest artist is the renowned St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concertmaster, violinist Steven Copes. He will perform Berg’s intense and beautiful Violin Concerto. The concert is at 8 p.m. at The Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, Florida.

Maestro Eric Jacobsen returns for his second season to conduct this concert that focuses on the Russian masters, particularly this evening on Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suites Nos. 1 and 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. The Russian Masters, theme is a blend of traditional and classical masters with a contemporary genius.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the unique palette of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra than with the emotionally vivid and heroic Russian masterworks of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich during the opening of the 2016-2017 season,” said Jacobsen. “Not only is this music incredibly enjoyable to an audience, but on stage the entire orchestra is featured through the types of solos the musicians get excited to play. I look forward to bringing this dynamic music to life in the 2016/17 season… it’s going to be an incredible year!”

Subscription tickets are now available for the 2016-2017 Season by calling the Orlando Philharmonic Box Office at (407) 770-0071 or visiting Series tickets include: the Super Series – a 10-concert series with five Classical concerts and five Pops concerts, the Classics Series – five classical concerts, and the Pops Series – five pops concerts with matinee and evening choices.  These series are presented at The Bob Carr Theater. The Focus Series, a five-concert chamber orchestra series and the two concert Opera Series, featuring Bernstein’s Candide and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, are both presented at The Plaza Live, home to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

Single tickets are also available online at, by calling (407) 770-0071, or in person at the Box Office, located at The Plaza Live (425 N. Bumby Avenue, Orlando). The Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Ticket prices subject to change.)


For press tickets email Cristina at by Monday, October 26, 2016.


Now in its 24th season, The Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s professional orchestra, comprised of accomplished musicians recruited from around the world. Presenting over 125 events each year, the orchestra provides captivating musical experiences and education programs to people of all ages, and is committed to building rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in Central Florida. Learn more at


Related Events

Season Opening Gala: Thursday, September 29, 2016, 6:30 p.m., The Plaza Live,

425 N. Bumby, Orlando

The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic present An Evening of Russian Romance. Celebrate the Opening of the Orlando Philharmonic’s 24th season which will feature the music of Russian masters. This gala evening includes cocktails, a wonderful sit-down dinner and the music of Maestro Eric Jacobsen and renowned violinist Steven Copes. Price: $140 per person. Reservations for all Friends events may be made on the Friends website,




Violinist Steven Copes leads a diverse and enthusiastic musical life as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. He joined the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) as Concertmaster in 1998, and since then has regularly led the orchestra from the chair in several highly acclaimed, eclectic programs. He also appears frequently as soloist with the SPCO, performing concerti by Bach, Berg, Brahms, Hindemith, Kirchner, Lutoslawski, Mozart, Piazzolla, Prokofiev, Schnittke and Weill. In addition, he has performed as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the Colorado Symphony, the Knights, and the New Symphony in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A zealous advocate of the music of today, he gave the world premiere of George Tsontakis’ Grammy-nominated Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003), which won the 2005 Grawemeyer award, and has been recorded for KOCH Records, and also gave the NY premiere of Lutoslawski’s Subito (1992) for Violin and Piano. Copes will also give the premiere of Pierre Jalbert’s new Violin Concerto with the SPCO in the spring of 2017. He has also performed John Novacek’s Four Rags with the composer on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.

An avid chamber musician, Copes has performed at festivals and concert series such as Aspen, Boston Chamber Music Society, Caramoor, Cello Plus, Chamber Music Northwest, Chestnut Hill Concerts, Colorado College, El Paso Pro Musica, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, La Jolla Summerfest, Mainly Mozart Spotlight Series, Marlboro, Mozaic, Moritzburg, Norfolk, Piccolo Spoleto, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Skaneateles and Styriarte. He co-founded the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado as well as Accordo, a TwinCities based chamber group now in its seventh season. 

Copes is a frequent guest concertmaster with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and has served in the same capacity with the Baltimore Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony. He has worked with students at the Colorado College Summer Festival, the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland, and at Western Michigan University, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota, and at Roosevelt University in Chicago. A native of Los Angeles, he holds degrees from The Curtis Institute and Juilliard, and his teachers include Robert Lipsett, Aaron Rosand, Robert Mann and Felix Galimir for chamber music.



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Steven Copes Photos: – photos


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Fall 2016 Young People’s Concerts



The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2016 Young People’s Concert (YPCs), Once Upon a Symphony will reach more than 60,000 students, including Orange County Public School (OCPS) students in grades 3-5 and fifth grade students at School District of Osceola. The YPCs feature a full symphony orchestra with dancers from the Orlando Ballet, local opera singer Sean Stork, and Orlando Repertory Theater actor narrators.

The concert is only part of the picture, however. Numerous teachers from Orange and Osceola counties contribute to the concert’s teacher guidebook, making the YPCs an integral part of music education in Central Florida.

“The YPCs are a source of pride for the Philharmonic,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education. “We have yet to find a symphony nationwide that reaches more people through its YPCs or is so seamlessly integrated into its district curriculum. The level of support we receive from local districts is incredible.”

Learn More About Our Young People’s Concerts

Welcome to Our New Executive Director!


Orlando Philharmonic New Executive Director Arrives in Orlando

(August 2, 2016, Orlando, FL) – The Orlando Philharmonic is pleased to announce the arrival of new Executive Director Christopher Barton in Orlando. “It is with great anticipation that we welcome Chris to our vibrant Central Florida arts community and our Orlando Phil family,” said RK Kelley, President of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s Board of Directors. “Chris’s experience and thoughtful approach provide a harmonious complement to the dynamic vision of Music Director Eric Jacobsen, who joined the Phil last year. I’m excited to work with this talented team.”

Christopher Barton previously served as the executive director of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra since 2014. Prior to that he worked for the College of Arts and Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. He holds a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina and a Bachelor of Music Industry Studies from the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University.

“I’m overjoyed to be the new executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the start of the twenty-fourth season,” said Barton. “Eric has programmed an exciting season of music for both our musicians and audiences. With Phase 1 renovations at The Plaza Live completed our team has a beautiful and versatile space in which to work, rehearse, and perform. I look forward to working with Eric and the musicians, board, staff, and volunteers to continue the momentum of the organization. My wife Angela and I are delighted to be in Orlando and are eager to get involved with the Central Florida community.”

Christopher Barton and his family moved to Orlando from Flagstaff, Arizona in late July.

Pre-order the From Broadway With Love Recording


More than 40 Broadway stars joined the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra on Monday, July 25 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for a benefit performance From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Orlando.

Members of the Philharmonic served as the orchestra for the performance under the baton of Michael J. Moritz Jr., who was the musical director for the evening. Other Orlando based groups, Varietease and Orlando Voices United Choir, joined the all-star Broadway cast. The Philharmonic is proud to have been a part of this moving concert and join the incredibly talented cast of performers.

Net proceeds raised from the performance (royalties and artist fees waived) will be donated equally between the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, and Zebra Coalition. The producers hope to share this moving performance with as many people in the community as possible. You can pre-order the entire benefit performance on CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray by visiting:

Selections from the program can be found below.

From Broadway With Love:

Great Dream of Heaven orch. by Kim Scharnberg

Seth Play-On orch. by Cameron Moncur

Beautiful arr. Steve Sidwell

Over the Rainbow/For Good arr. Jonathan Barr orch. by Ed Gaston

Mi Viejo San Juan/ Nothing orch. Cameron Moncur/Larry Blank

Rhapsody in Blue orch. Ferde Grofe

Once Upon a December/Journey to the Past arr/ orch. by Jack Everly

I Will Survive arr. by Randall Craig Fleischer orch. by John Such

The Impossible Dream  arr. by Brian Stokes Mitchell orch. by Danny Troob

Puttin’ On the Ritz arr/orch. by Kim Scharnberg

Sun’s Gonna Shine orch. by August Eriksmoen

Wizard and I orch. by William David Brohn

Don’t Stop Believing arr/orch. by Ethan Popp

Opera/Country arr/orch. by Dan Lipton additional orch. David Mallamud

Slide Some Oil to Me orch. by Harold Wheeler

Sing a Song orch. by Kim Scharnberg

Tomorrow orch. by Philip J. Lang

What the World Needs Now orch. by Cameron Moncur

Bows orch. by Cameron Moncur