While we practice our social distancing, the TSO wishes you and your family well. To help pass a little time while you work to relax and recharge, the TSO has received permission to share some of our memorable past concert pieces.
Special thanks to Capital City Bank for helping to make this possible and for their ongoing support of the TSO.
May 15, 2020 edition
Today we share a stunning, beautiful and ethereal piece from Maestro Darko Butorac’s audition concert in May, 2013—Christopher Theofinids’ Rainbow Body.
Hello, My Tallahassee Friends!
First of all: I miss seeing all of you and sharing music with you.
I first heard about Chris Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body in 2007. It was featured on NPR radio by the Pittsburgh Symphony and my colleague at the Missoula Symphony advised me to check it out. Knowing he was not fond of giving recommendations for new music, I thought it was worth exploring. As soon as I heard it I thought, “WOW”! A piece that had everything —wonderful orchestration, inspired melodic writing, clear structure, and just challenging enough to stretch the audience’s ears.
The term ‘Rainbow Body’ refers to a concept from Tibetan Buddhism, when a body that is enlightened transforms into light. Theofanidis combines this idea with a chant melody from Hildegard von Bingen—a composer of medieval chant and a very spiritual person (in fact, she was canonized by the church).
I loved the work so much that I chose to feature it on my audition program for the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra back in 2013. I had a goal to be able to conduct from memory, as it has quite a few tricky rhythmic transitions, and trying to turn pages every few bars was just going to get in the way. It went really well, as did the rest of the concert, and here I am, music director of OUR Tallahassee Symphony!
A side note, I brought this “good luck charm” with me to my Asheville Symphony audition in 2017, and it did just the trick! Two for two with Theofanidis!
With my best wishes,
May 8, 2020 edition
Today we share Blagojević’s Balkan Dance No.2 from our March 2015 concert. The piece was comes from Darko’s native Serbia and ours was the U.S. premiere of the work!You’ll hear Darko speak about the piece at the start!
May 1, 2020 edition
Today’s performance comes from the ravishing mezzo-soprano Phyllis Pancellawho joined the TSO in May 2013 for a gorgeous performance of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder.
This performance is especially meaningful because it was the audition concert of our beloved Darko Butorac!
Dear Friends of the TSO,
By December of 2011, the Tallahassee Symphony had settled on final candidates for the position of Music Director, and were discussing repertoire and dates with each of them. At the same time, the Symphony was gathering “wish lists” from some local soloists it hoped might participate in these audition concerts. It turned out one candidate, Darko Butorac, was interested in conducting some Mahler, and I was interested in singing some, and there we suddenly were, preparing Mahler’s expansive Rückert-Lieder. The rest, as they say, is history. It was my privilege to be part of introducing the artistry of Mo. Butorac to the Tallahassee Symphony Family.
As is often the case, we presented “Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen” as the final piece in the set, replete as it is with the kind of peaceful resignation that is a Mahler trademark. A couple of years after our performance, I chose friends’ photographs that I thought visually evoked the solitude and peace of this song, and created a private video combining those images with our concert recording. I find a lot of solace in it now, as the world is such a strange combination of chaotic and beautiful at the moment. Poet and composer unite to remind us that art lives in a separate place of serenity amid tumult, and the images remind me that those separate places are among us and inside us. I’m grateful for the chance to share this with you, and wish you all this kind of serenity amid the chaos.
All my best,
April 28, 2020 edition
Do you remember what a “Fantastique Night” we had together on September 26, 2015?
Guest artist Andrew Staupe knocked our socks off with his performance of Liszt’s fiendishly difficult Totentanz!
Dear Tallahassee Friends,
I was overjoyed when Maestro Darko Butorac invited me to perform Liszt’s Totentanz with the TSO a few years back. Darko and I got to know each other in Missoula, Montana, where we performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue together the previous year with the Missoula Symphony. Part of the real joy of being a concert pianist is getting to know various conductors, ensembles, administrations, and cities through your concert engagements, especially when you end up working with the same conductors and orchestras multiple times through the years. He and I had lots of fun together on and off the stage during my time in Missoula (especially when I let the Maestro show me around town and indulge his love of fine cuisine and coffee!), and thus I knew it would be just as fun to do a ‘Round 2’ in Florida! And sure enough, once I arrived in the beautiful capital city and rehearsed with the TSO, it was clear that this would be an equally joyful experience with Darko again.
Another privilege of being a concert pianist is sitting in the driver’s seat of the orchestral sound, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it feels like one is “surfing” on a giant tsunami wave of sound in front of an audience! It’s a perennial thrill for any soloist, and when you know the conductor well like I did for this performance, it becomes all the more artistically satisfying. Maestro Butorac’s synergy with the TSO was tangible from the moment he gave his first downbeat, and each subsequent downbeat became more and more thrilling as the performance went on. After every concerto, conductor (and the orchestra as well!) and soloist create a sort of hidden ‘bond’ onstage, as it requires an enormous amount of focus, preparation, energy, and occasionally some good luck to successfully make it through a performance together. Following this unforgettable Totentanz with the superb TSO, I carry these fond memories with me every day, and look forward to the next time I can play with this great orchestra again.
With warm wishes,
April 24, 2020 edition
Today, we’re spreading a little jollity! Enjoy this performance of “Jupiter” from Holst’s The Planets performed May 4, 2019.
“Jupiter is one of the most rapturous pieces of music ever written, utterly contagious in its enthusiasm, and the splendors of Holst’s inventive, active orchestration spreads the feeling of joy still further.”
April 21, 2020 edition
From Mary Kelsay,
Dear TSO Family,
I am excited to offer a selection for our TSO at Home series! I’ve always loved jazz, especially the music of George and Ira Gershwin. My sister and I used to listen to Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook on repeat. Hearing But Not for Me at this TSO Jazz concert brought back so many great memories. This performance showcases so much of our local Tallahassee talent; our TSO Jazz Orchestra, the band leadership of Leon Anderson, the beautiful piano solo by Bill Peterson, and of course Avis Berry’s stunning vocals. I hope you enjoy it and that it brings back lots of wonderful memories for you too!
All my best,
April 17, 2020 edition
Today, we offer some ideas on how to spend your weekend in quarantine—movies and games with the TSO!
Today’s musical selection is the “Theme from Star Wars,” performed by the TSO at our Night at the Oscars concert on October 6, 2017!Enjoy!
April 14, 2020 edition
For Darko’s second contribution to “TSO at Home,” you’ll enjoy the life affirming and uplifting final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, performed by your TSO in March 2019as part of our “Ode to Understanding” concert.
Dear TSO Friends, For this installment of TSO at Home, I chose the finale of Beethoven’s 9th, his celebrated setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
The experience was incredibly moving, performing the symphony as the finale of our “Ode to Understanding” concert. The chorus was comprised of singers from Morehouse College, FAMU and local Tallahassee community members.
For me, the lasting memory is catching the eyes of what seemed like every member of the chorus in the final “Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt” (This kiss for the entire world).
The Ninth stands as THE symphony among symphonies, not just because of its powerful music, but also its message of unity and universal brotherhood, a message that is perfect for the time we are in.
With love, Darko
April 10, 2020 edition
Today we share TSO Concertmaster Corinne Stillwell’s gorgeous performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto from October 22, 2016.
Dear TSO Audience,
The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is one of the most powerful, enduring, and beloved violin concertos ever written. The arc of the first movement alone is nearly 20 minutes, and expresses the heights and depths of human emotion. For me personally, I’m reminded of how exhilarated I was at my first performance of it at the age of 14, and every time I play it, I feel a certain sense of homecoming. The optimism embodied in this piece is timeless, yet especially reassuring during times like these. I hope this performance lifts your spirits and gives you hope!
Looking forward to a time we can be together again—Corinne Stillwell, Concertmaster
April 7, 2020 edition
Today, we share George Walker’s beautiful Lyric for Strings performed by the TSO on March 31, 2019.
Mr. Walker’s Lyric for Strings was originally titled “Lament,” and is dedicated to his grandmother who had died the year prior to its composition. This dedication is especially meaningful to me during this time when we are all concerned about our world’s most vulnerable populations.
I remember vividly sitting in the audience on March 31, 2019, while our orchestra played this haunting movement. It perfectly set the stage for the Thompson work that followed, and provided an opportunity for reflection and meditation.
I hope each of you are well and safe, and I can’t wait until we can gather again in person to experience great music together.
Warmly, Mandy Stringer, CEO
Starts Softly 🙂
April 3, 2020 edition
“TSO at Home” Edition #8 offers a soothing, elegant performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, with comments from TSO Board Member Gary Zirin and Guest Clarinetist Anthony McGill.
When Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, came to Tallahassee to perform the Mozart Concerto with the TSO it was truly awe inspiring. I sat through his rehearsal with the TSO and then his performance in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, and what we all witnessed was near perfection. Just over a week before his performance, our community had experienced Hurricane Michael and many were still trying to deal with the aftermath. Having Anthony McGill dazzle the audience as he did and when he did, was exactly what our community needed – a beautifully powerful distraction when we needed it most.
I hope Anthony’s performance of the second movement with the TSO will bring you joy and comfort as our community navigates through these trying times.
Gary Zirin, TSO Board Member and Secretary
Here’s a special message from Anthony!
March 31, 2020 edition
Do you remember our “Epic Evening” Season Finale in May, 2018?
From our piano soloist, Adam Golka…
Playing Rachmaninoff 2 with Darko and the TSO remains a blissful memory. I had the impression during the concert that very spontaneous things were happening between all of us. Darko and the great musicians were creating, giving, and responding in the moment of the concert, and not by means of fulfilling what we worked out in rehearsal, but in addition to what we practiced and at times maybe even despite what we rehearsed. I find it is extremely rare to feel so expressively free when playing a Rachmaninoff Concerto, and I’m grateful for the risk-taking and openness that can only come from a truly exceptional group of musicians!
I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, and hope to see you in the future.
With warm regards,
Adam Golka, Pianist
Mandy’s Bonus Performance.
“I just couldn’t leave out the incredibly beautiful second movement of this piece, so you’ll also enjoy two full movements!”
March 28, 2020 edition
In today’s edition of “TSO at Home”, you’ll enjoy the sounds and words of our Principal Flutist, Eva Amsler.
Debussy is one of my absolutely favorite composers! When I play music in the French style, I’m always “seeing” impressionistic paintings – I love to think of “painting” this music with my flute while playing – multiple shades of green, how many shades of blue, and did you notice the ones in red, yellow, brown …….there is a sense of mystery, a patch of light and shadow, passion.
L’apres-midi d’un faune makes me think of my beloved teacher, the famous Aurele Nicolet. The piece starts with flute alone and soft – at the time a revolutionary idea – taking the listener in from the very first note. The flute is said to reach into an “other” world – a perfect way to step into “a painting”, explore the story – what a doorway to this masterpiece!
Mandy’s Bonus Performance.
Our “French Impressions” concert featured Pianist Conrad Tao performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto. Enjoy his gorgeous encore:a solo piano version of Le jardin féerique (The Fairy Garden)from the Mother Goose Suite.
March 25, 2020 edition
From: Vocalists Mikki Sodergren and Michael Maliakel
Dear TSO Friends!
We hope you are finding lots of time to cross off all the little odds and ends of your to-do lists, and most importantly, we hope your family, friends and you are very healthy amidst this massive public health crisis! We are honored to be a part of the “TSO at Home” series, and are so happy to reflect on a time when had the opportunity to put together a dream project with your Tallahassee SymphonyOrchestra— “Star Crossed Lovers.”
There are so many favorite moments from this show but we’re offering two of our favorite duets to hopefully brighten your day while you’re stuck indoors! The first—if you’re looking for something fun and lighthearted—is a duet titled “Fine” from the song-cycle-turned-musical Ordinary Days, composed by Adam Gwon.
The second offering, in case you want to spend a little more musical time with us today, is “How Could I Ever Know” from the sweepingly romantic musical The Secret Garden, written by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon.
We hope these musical moments bring you some joy today!
Mikki Sodergren and Michael Maliakel
March 23, 2020 edition
From Carrie Holden, TSO Assistant Concertmaster
When my daughter Maddie (now 11) was born, many of my musician friends came to visit us in the hospital. One of them was holding my daughter, and when she started to cry, he began to sing the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. My newborn baby immediately stopped crying and looked up at him with a very contented look.
The beautiful simplicity of the tune, the surprising dynamic changes, and the lovely use of the lower strings (my daughter now plays the cello) make this one of my favorite pieces, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, with the TSO this past January.
I hope it brings you the comfort that it brought my daughter 11 years ago!
Carrie Holden, TSO Assistant Concertmaster
March 21, 2020 edition
From Darko… This work (Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony) has a special place in my heart. It is the first piece I ever conducted in concert when I was 17 years old.
The second movement I share here stands in my memory as a favorite – the beautiful solos by Matt Tavera (French horn), Eric Ohlsson (oboe) and Eva Amsler (flute), I remember with particular fondness.
I hope you enjoy the performance, and I look forward to staying in touch in the coming months. Though we have to socially distance, we can still musically connect!
NOTE: begins softly…. 🙂
March 20, 2020 edition
Today we offer the “Nimrod” movement from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, performed March 24, 2018. Enjoy our performance of this poignant movement, which allows us to meditate on the world unfolding around us.
NOTE: This one starts out “softly!” 🙂
March 18, 2020 edition
The first in our “TSO At Home” series comes from our May 4, 2019 event. Will Hagen was our featured artist and he has graciously granted permission for the TSO share our work with you in this way. We thank Will and all of the musicians of the TSO for their continued sharing of talent and time.