The OPO Beat #1: A Sit-Down with Eric Jacobsen

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Reflections with Music Director Eric Jacobsen

In anticipation of the upcoming 2021-2022 Season, we were able to talk with Music Director Eric Jacobsen and discuss what his journey here at the OPO has been and what he’s looking forward to this Season. The 2020-2021 Season presented challenges like no others and Eric was at the helm, guiding the orchestra. 


OPO: What has the journey with the OPO been like for you? How have you grown as a musician from when you started? 

Eric Jacobsen (EJ): It has meant so much to me to be able to develop really deep and meaningful relationships with the amazing musicians, committed staff, and enthusiastic audience of the OPO. Orlando truly feels like home to me now, not just because of the time I have spent here, but also because of the unity of purpose within the organization. We have done so many amazing things together, like our semi-staged Mozart opera, our Resonate Festival, and Inside the Score, our deep dive into a single piece of music. All of those were firsts for me as a conductor, and it’s truly been a gift to be a part of an organization that is so enthusiastic to embrace the new!


OPO: How did it feel coming out of the pandemic and getting back on the stage? What was the feeling of being in front of a live audience after many months?

EJ: Well, thanks to the herculean efforts of the OPO, I wasn’t actually offstage all that long! It was definitely surreal to be giving concerts in Fall 2020 when most concert venues were still shuttered. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that the musicians agreed to play for an audience who so clearly needed the comfort and inspiration of live music.


OPO: What accomplishment at the OPO are you proudest of?

EJ: Well you know that’s like asking who your favorite child is! (My favorite child is Ivy Jo, by the way). There have been so many artistic highpoints, but instead of a single accomplishment, I’d say what I’m proudest of is how adventuresome this orchestra is, and this audience. There’s a hunger here, for new works, for new approaches. I love it. And I’m lucky.


OPO: What advice would you give aspiring students who want to go into conducting?

EJ: Learn everything – not just music, but everything else. Be open to everything. Listen to everything. Talk to everyone. Live your life. All of that informs your conducting.  


OPO: What are you most looking forward to in the 2021-2022 Season?

EJ: I am so excited for EVERYTHING! On the Classics Series, we’ll have beloved audience favorites, a host of new discoveries, and a couple of programs that are sure to be show-stoppers: Gil Shaham performing Beethoven, and the world premiere of a semi-staged version of Carl Orff’s monumental Carmina Burana, directed and choreographed by my good friends Alison Moritz and John Heginbotham. And as always, throughout the Season we will spotlight the incredible virtuosity and artistry of the Orlando Philharmonic musicians. I am also so happy about the return of our Resonate Festival, which combines two experiences into one evening: a short orchestral concert followed by an intimate chamber soiree, featuring the accomplished pianist Stewart Goodyear, who will also serve as the Orlando Philharmonic’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence.


And just for fun, let’s do a rapid round, respond in a few words only!


OPO: What is your favorite genre of non-classical music?

EJ: Folk


OPO: What is your favorite activity in Central Florida (besides conducting the OPO, of course!)?

EJ: Tennis?  No, cooking?


OPO: What is your favorite animal?

EJ: Dogs


OPO: How would you describe Central Florida in two words or less?  



OPO: What is your go-to movie for a night in? 

EJ: I don’t really re-watch movies, do you? Pretty excited about re-watching The Sopranos!

You can learn more about Music Director Eric Jacobsen by clicking here!

For more information on the upcoming Season, click here.