Bradenton now has its own symphony orchestra.
Robyn Bell, the director of instrumental studies at the State College of Florida, will head the newly formed SCF Bradenton Symphony Orchestra, a classical music ensemble comprised of student musicians from the college and musicians from the Bradenton area.
The orchestra is scheduled to perform its first concert on Oct. 7.
“Sarasota has the Sarasota Orchestra, Venice has the Venice Symphony, which started as a community orchestra and became a professional orchestra,” Bell said. “Bradenton hasn’t had its own orchestra.”
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Essentially, the orchestra’s strings section will be made up of SCF student musicians. The brass, woodwinds and percussion sections will mostly be filled with musicians from the community.
Sarasota has the Sarasota Orchestra, Venice has the Venice Symphony, which started as a community orchestra and became a professional. Bradenton hasn’t had its own orchestra.
Community musicians haven’t signed on yet, but Bell said she’s confident she will have more than enough skilled and talented musicians from the Bradenton area to fill a quality orchestra. She often hears from local musicians, many of them retired orchestra musicians or music educators who want to be a part of the Pops Orchestra, which Bell also heads.
“I’m always getting calls from people who want to play with the Pops Orchestra,” she said, “but I just don’t have any room.”
The musicians will not be paid, but the student musicians will get college credits for their weekly rehearsals with the orchestra.
The makeup of the orchestra, its rehearsal schedule — essentially one rehearsal a week for seven weeks, followed by a performance —and its academic mission partly dictated the selections on the first season’s programs. The concerts, which will all be on Friday nights in the Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF, will follow the classic orchestral format of an overture, a concerto and a symphony. The selections are all classical pieces that are designed to be challenging for student musicians, but not so complex that they can’t be perfected in time for the concerts. They’re almost all from composers whose work is familiar to even the most casual classical music fan.
Soloists in the first season will be members of the SCF music faculty.
The concerts, which will all be on Friday nights in the Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF, will follow the classic orchestral format of an overture, a concerto and a symphony.
Tickets will be $15, so Bell said she’s hoping that people who are curious about classical music concerts but who may not want to invest a lot of money will check out the Bradenton Symphony.
The Neel Performing Arts Center, which seats about 800, is being refurbished. By the time the Bradenton Symphony debuts, the Neel will have larger and more comfortable seats.
Here is the season schedule:
Oct. 7: Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto (Pete Carney, soloist), Hayden’s Symphony No. 94 “Surprise”
Dec. 2: The Christmas section of Handel’s “Messiah”
Feb. 24: Mozart’s Overture to “Cosi Fan Tutte,” Albononi’s Trumpet Concerto “St. Mark” (Aaron Romm, solist), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
April 21: Shostakovich’s Festival Overture, Grieg’s Piano Concerto (Aza Torshkoeva, soloist), and Saint-Saens Organ Symphony No. 3.
The SCF Bradenton Symphony should have a website soon. Tickets will also be available through the SCF box office, 941-752-5252.