News & Blog


View More:

Women in Song series features Indie Folk and Folk Rock singer-songwriter with members of the Orlando Philharmonic

(February 14, Orlando, FL) – The third concert in the Women in Song Series featuring folk singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan takes place on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at The Plaza Live at 425 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando. The concert begins 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 other amazing artists,” said Eric Jacobsen, Orlando Philharmonic music director.

The new series has been an effort to stretch the talented musicians of the Orlando Philharmonic, but also build a new audience around these concerts that may have never attended a Philharmonic performance.

“We have been thrilled with the positive response to the “Women in Song” concerts,” said Executive Director Christopher Barton. “It’s very exciting when we are able to welcome new audiences to the Philharmonic family.”

O’Donovan’s concert takes place at The Plaza Live and features songs from her second album, In the Magic Hour, which was released in January of 2016. “Flying, getting the rental car, eating all my meals alone…” O’Donovan says. “I just remember sitting with a book in Germany two winters ago, feeling so happy that after the show I could have a Hefeweizen and read and not talk to anybody. And I think that gave me more time to edit my lyrics and really be more mindful with them.”

A string quartet from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, including Music Director Eric Jacobsen, who married O’Donovan last summer, will perform select songs alongside O’Donovan. Tickets to the March 1 concert are $22 in advance and $27 at the door. For more information, please visit



Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Notes in Your Neighborhood

With Jones High School

jones logo

This spring, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is excited to announce the expansion of its Notes in Your Neighborhood outreach program with new partner school, Jones High School.

Notes in Your Neighborhood, currently in its sixth year, is an after-school outreach program providing musical mentorship to Title 1 students. The newly formed partnership with Jones High School marks a significant expansion to the program, previously offered only to elementary students. As part of this new partnership, Orlando Philharmonic musicians will provide after-school mentoring and instruction to orchestra and band students at Jones High School. The partnership will culminate in a final performance at Jones High School for parents and community members on Tuesday, April 25th, as well as feeder elementary and middle school students.

“We are so excited to begin this partnership with Jones High School, who has a long-standing culture of musical excellence in Central Florida,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. “We look forward to helping Jones High School inspire and grow young musicians over many years to come!”

Musicians will take part in after-school rehearsals, providing musical insight, performance techniques, and mentorship. Initial funding for the program expansion was provided by the City of Orlando Mayor’s Matching Grant program, the first program to fund Notes in Your Neighborhood. Further funding is being sought by the Jones High School Foundation to provide after-school support year-round.

To learn more about Notes in Your Neighborhood, contact Director of Education Dr. Leia Barrett. To learn more about the Jones High School Foundation, visit

Orlando Ballet’s New “Masterworks” Celebrates the Joy and Romance of Dance and Music Created by the Very Best

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to accompany Orlando Ballet for a very masterful event

Masterworks image

Balanchine, Tharp, Robbins, Tchaikovsky, and Bernstein – these names define mastery and the creative genius to be featured in Orlando Ballet’s new and aptly titled, “Masterworks” performance scheduled March 24, 25 and 26. This performance is designed to highlight the brilliance of some of the world’s most renowned choreographers and composers.

Masterworks will showcase the pairing of Orlando Ballet with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra performing classics including George Balanchine’s groundbreaking “Serenade,” with 28 beautiful ballerinas filling the stage and moving to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s breathtaking “Serenade for Strings.” Also included is Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free,” which was the inspiration for the classic 1959 musical “On The Town” where three sailors spend 24, fast-paced hours in New York City. Fancy Free was the first ballet that the young Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein made together. The pair went onto create legendary West Side Story.

Jerome Robbins’ charming “Fancy Free,” is the inspiration for the 1959 film “On The Town” where three sailors spend 24, fast-paced hours in New York City. Orlando Ballet’s fanciful ensemble of dancers pays homage to the original as well as its composer Leonard Bernstein. Masterworks also includes dance legend Twyla Tharp’s iconic “Sinatra Suite,” which she created for ballet great, Mikhail Barishynikov, and which is choreographed to the magic of Frank Sinatra’s biggest hits. The orchestra will be led by guest conductor David Commanday.

Performances are scheduled in the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 26. Tickets start at $35 and are available at or call 844-513-2014.

“This unique program defines the meaning of masters in the performing arts,” said Orlando Ballet Artistic Director Robert Hill. “An experienced ballet conductor leading a live orchestra creates a much richer experience for the audience as well as for the dancers. The choreographers and composers are very well known so there’s broad appeal for this concept.”

Masterworks is result of Orlando Ballet creating last year its Maestro’s Fund to support collaboration with area music groups including the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Central Florida Community Arts orchestra, and Bach Festival for live musical accompaniment to ballet performances.

“This artistic collaboration between the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Ballet brings together the finest professional dancers and musicians in the community,” said Christopher Barton, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Executive Director. “We look forward to working with Orlando Ballet to create a remarkable performance for our Central Florida audiences.”

Tickets are available online at, by calling 844.513.2014, or in person at the Box Office, located at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, FL). The Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.


About Orlando Ballet Established in 1974, Orlando Ballet is the professional resident ballet company in the greater Orlando area. The Orlando-based organization employs a full-time company of national and international dancers from Brazil, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, as well as the United States, performing both full-length classical ballets and contemporary repertoire programs. Via its mission, “Orlando Ballet seeks to entertain, educate, and enrich the cultural growth of Florida through the highest quality of dance.” The Orlando Ballet is under the artistic direction of Robert Hill, who is marking his eighth anniversary with the company. Hill has had a celebrated career as a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), as well as Artistic Director at Ballet de Monterrey and has guest performed internationally and created a great arsenal of signature choreographic works. In addition to the ballet company, the Orlando Ballet School is regarded as one of the finest training academies in the world and is the official school of the Orlando Ballet. The school has been named “Outstanding School” at the New York finals of Youth America Grand Prix three times. With three locations in Central Florida, Orlando Ballet School adheres to the American Ballet Theatre® National Training curriculum and our American Ballet Theatre® certified teachers provide disciplined training for dancers of all ages. For more information on Orlando Ballet visit

About the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Now in its 24th season, The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra 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 a rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in Central Florida. Learn more at



Orlando Philharmonic Presents East Meets West

KalhorKayhan 3 x 2

With Guest Artist Kayhan Kalhor

(February 6, Orlando, FL) – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents the fourth concert in the Focus Series, East Meets West on Monday, February 27, featuring guest artist Kayhan Kalhor, an Iranian kamancheh player, composer, and master of classical Kurdish and Iranian traditional music. Performance is at The Plaza Live, 425 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando, Florida on Monday, February 27 at 7 p.m.

Members of the Orlando Philharmonic, under the direction of Music Director Eric Jacobsen will perform the magical overture to Weber’s opera Oberon and end with Schumann’s homage to the Rhineland in Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish.”

Kalhor will his arrangement of Silent City with members of the Philharmonic, a very intense piece that depicts the aftereffects of attacks on the Kurdish city of Hallabjah, that was first recorded with Jacobsen’s string quartet Brooklyn Rider, in 2008.

Single tickets can be purchased by clicking here, by calling the Box Office at 407.770.0071, or in person at the Box Office, located at The Plaza Live (425 N. Bumby Avenue, Orlando).

Orlando Philharmonic & Opera Orlando Announce New Partnership for 2017-2018 Season

OPO_Logo_EJ_color-blk_smOpera Orlando - Finalized logo versions 1 color

(Tuesday, January 24, Orlando, FL) – Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Orlando announced a new partnership today, redefining how opera will be presented in Central Florida next season and beyond.

Since the 2009-2010 Season, the Orlando Philharmonic has produced traditional favorite operas like Puccini’s La bohème and Madama Butterfly at the Bob Carr Theater as well as innovative productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Bernstein’s Candide at The Plaza Live, while maintaining its core concert series including Classics, Pops, Focus, and Sounds of Summer.

“Several years ago when the viability of opera production in our community was in jeopardy, the staff and board of the Orlando Philharmonic rallied support to preserve staged opera. We are proud of the past eight seasons of opera that the OPO has presented and as we look to the future, we know that this is the right moment to hand off the artistic and administrative leadership to the capable hands of Opera Orlando,” said RK Kelley, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra board president. “It has always been our goal to preserve the art form in the Central Florida community, while at the same time, continuing to keep the performance of opera music in the Philharmonic’s repertoire until a new professional opera company was ready for that leadership role.”

Opera Orlando is devoted year-round to the art form, which is the organization’s core mission. In January of 2016, Florida Opera Theatre, which had been presenting opera since 2009, officially changed its name to Opera Orlando, reflecting the mission to be the regional standard bearer for the art form. Gabriel Preisser was named executive and artistic director and Vince Connor was named general director. They share the vision of reshaping the community’s idea of what opera is by making it more intimate, accessible, relevant and an immersive theater experience.

“We are thrilled about this partnership and are committed to employing the Orlando Philharmonic as Opera Orlando’s resident orchestra,” said John Wettach, Opera Orlando board president. “Our paramount goal is to raise the profile of the art form and generate a new level of excitement for our organization’s offerings and the Orlando Philharmonic shares this enthusiasm and commitment.”

Opera Orlando launched its inaugural season in 2016-2017 and provides operas, outreach and education throughout the year. Currently, performances are held in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Christopher Barton, who was named executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic last June and Preisser have been meeting for months with the full support of the boards of both organizations to discuss how to move opera forward.

United Arts of Central Florida, which raises and distributes funds to local arts, sciences, history and other cultural providers is supportive of the new partnership and thinks that the decision makes sense for the community.

“We have been encouraging them to collaborate and we think it’s a terrific business decision to turn over the administrative leadership to Opera Orlando with the creative engagement of the Orlando Philharmonic – it’s the best of both worlds,” said Flora Maria Garcia, president and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida. “We love the way these two organizations have been working together to evolve opera because they each are focusing on what they do best.”

Both the Orlando Philharmonic and Opera Orlando are planning to perform in Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center when it opens. The 1,700-seat Steinmetz Hall will join the existing 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater and the 300-seat Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater, and will provide a home to the art center’s resident companies, including the Orlando Ballet.

“In 2020, Steinmetz Hall will provide an exceptional, acoustic performance space for the partnership between Opera Orlando and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. This past year, Opera Orlando presented great works in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater to sold-out audiences and next season will be even more successful with this fantastic collaboration,” said Kathy Ramsberger, CEO and president of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The Orlando Philharmonic has one opera performance remaining on its current season, Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love at The Plaza Live on Feb. 2, 3 and 5. Opera Orlando’s final performance for this season is Mozart’s Masterpiece Don Giovanni, which takes place on March 24, 25 and 26 at the Dr. Phillips Center.

# # #

About the Orlando Philharmonic

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 a rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in Central Florida. Learn more at 

About Opera Orlando

In only its second year, Opera Orlando has established itself as the standard bearer of the art form in Central Florida. As its 2016-17 season ends with the March 24-26 performances of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” the company looks forward to continuing its track record of sold out houses, fresh theatrical realizations and critical acclaim. The 2017-18 season includes Puccini’s “La bohème,” holiday performances of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and Rossini’s “Cinderella.” All productions include musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and are held at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It was in the Center’s Walt Disney Theater this past September that Opera Orlando assembled some of the nation’s and state’s finest operatic talent for a community-building benefit in response to the Pulse Night Club Tragedy: “One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song.” This stellar and powerful event inspired one of the art form’s leading national advocates, Marc Scorca of OPERA America, to declare that “in its brief existence, Opera Orlando has demonstrated its ability to bring high-quality performances to Orlando and to lift the spirit of the city through the power of opera.”

Women in Song at The Plaza Live Featuring Sara Watkins


New concert series features Grammy-winning Blue Grass, Folk, and Country singer-songwriter with members of the Orlando Philharmonic

(January 5, 2017) – Orlando, FL – The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced a new series last fall called “Women In Song” at The Plaza Live. The second concert in this series features folk singer-songwriter Sara Watkins on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at The Plaza Live at 425 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando. The concert begins 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 concert with Sara Watkins takes place at The Plaza Live and features songs from Watkins’ latest album, Young in All the Wrong Ways. “This is a breakup album with myself…” says Sara Watkins of her third solo record. Writing and recording these ten intensely soul-baring songs was a means for her to process and mark the last couple years, which have been transformative. “I looked around and realized that in many ways I wasn’t who or where I wanted to be. It’s been a process of letting go and leaving behind patterns and relationships, and in some cases, how I’ve considered myself. What these songs are documenting is the turmoil you feel when you know something has to change and you’re grappling with what that means. It means you’re losing something and moving forward into the unknown.”

A string quartet from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will perform on five songs with Watkins. Tickets to the Feb. 1 concert are $22 in advance and $27 at the door. For more information, please visit

About the Artist:

Sara Watkins

That sense of possibility infuses the songs on Young in All the Wrong Ways with a fierce and flinty resolve, which makes this her most powerful and revealing album to date. In some ways it’s a vivid distillation of the omnivorous folk-pop-bluegrass-indie-everything-else Watkins made with Nickel Creek, yet she makes audacious jumps that push against expectations in unexpected ways. These songs contain some of the heaviest moments of her career, with eruptions of thrumming B3 organ and jagged electric guitar. But it’s also quiet, vulnerable, tenderhearted. In other words, bold in all the right ways.

To say these are personal lyrics might be an understatement. They’re beyond personal, whether she’s confessing some long-held regret or gently consoling a friend. Young in All the Wrong Ways ends with “Tenderhearted,” a quietly assured song that Watkins wrote about a few of her heroes: women like her Grandmother Nordstrom who have weathered hard times with grace and have provided Watkins with examples of how to live her life. “They’re women who have endured so much yet emerged with love, strength and kindness. I remember someone saying, It’s so sad how much she’s had to go through. And I remember thinking, That’s why she’s such an incredible person. She faced all those trials and came out the other side.”

Watkins would never be so bold as to count herself in their company; instead, she aspires to follow their example. But Young in All the Wrong Ways does reveal an artist who has managed to transform her own turmoil into music that is beautiful and deeply moving: “God bless the tenderhearted,” she sings, “who let life overflow.”

To purchase tickets to Sara Watkins, click here.

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