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The Music Isn't Stopping For The Florida Orchestra

orchestra members perform separately on video
The Florida Orchestra / YouTube
Members of The Florida Orchestra perform together - virtually - during a YouTube concert called 'Thank You, Tampa Bay' in April.

“Strange, disconcerting, and somewhat sad, but necessary.”

Those are the words Michael Francis uses when he talks about what it’s been like for the members of The Florida Orchestrato not be performing in front of audiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Francis, TFO’s music director, shared his thoughts with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor during a Facebook Live interview last week.

“Concerts are a time for people to come together and have moments of healing, of inspiration," said Francis. "They're entertaining, but there are moments where we learn empathy for each other.”

He added that now is when people need the solace and escape that art can provide.

“It feels like the time in which we should be offering the most amount of music and live music because nothing else is like that,” said Francis. “So to not be able to perform at this time, of course it's necessary that we protect everybody, but equally cruel that we can't allow our talents and gifts and this wonderful music to be able to really heal and reach the people.”

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But that does not mean the music has been silenced.

Francis said the orchestra has been gathering together to perform virtually – and people can enjoy it from the safety of home.

"We've been reaching out and through our Facebook pages and TFO At Home, we've been having videos, we've actually put the whole show together,," said Francis. "Everybody and isolated in their own spot, and then actually able to perform. So that's really been incredible."

In addition, Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9 continues airing Florida Orchestra concerts as part of its Thursday Masterwork series.

Tonight at 7 p.m., it's “American Masters,” featuring Philip Glass’ Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, the Symphony No. 1 by Christopher Theofanidis, as well as Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and Bernstein’s Candide Overture.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.