Both of the region’s leading professional orchestras — the South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO) and the Symphony of the Americas (SOTA) — are finally kicking off full seasons of concerts following more than 18 months of pandemic-fueled uncertainty.

The SFSO is debuting in the recently renovated Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale while SOTA’s long-awaited new artistic director returns the podium at the Broward Center.

SFSO Named Partner in Arts at Parker

The curtain will finally rise on SFSO’s 2021-22 season, Nov. 17 at its new home, The Parker. The orchestra joined Broadway Across America, Florida Grand Opera and Miami City Ballet as a Partner in the Arts with the Broward Center, which oversees programming and operations at the venue.

The opening performance, conducted by Artistic Director Sebrina María Alfonso, will feature Berlioz’ “Roman Carnival Overture,” Ravel’s vibrant orchestration of Mussorgsky’s iconic “Pictures at an Exhibition” and a 100th birthday celebration in honor of tango composer Astor Piazzolla, featuring “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” (Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas) performed by guest violinist Siwoo Kim.

During the pandemic, Alfonso turned to stream performances to connect with audiences and keep her musicians employed. She thinks patrons will notice some unexpected benefits:

“I think having to perform without an audience last season and all the precautions that had to be taken brought an intimacy to the music that perhaps will grow even more this season. We relied totally on each other to bring the music alive virtually and I think if we carry that into the concert halls that it will be even more amazing with the audience’s energy mixing with ours,” she said.

Other concerts in the upcoming season include Handel’s “Messiah,” Dec. 1 & 4; music by Tchaikovsky and SFSO composer-in-residence Jon Gottsch, Jan. 19 – 22; works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Rossini, March 23 – 26; and a program of Copland, Beethoven and Mahler, April 27 – 18. SFSO also performs at Temple Israel in Miami Beach and the Tennessee Williams Theater in Key West.

“I am excited by all our programs. I always have the audience on my mind as I program the music and the musicians in a sense of making sure they have challenges for their own personal growth as artists. Programming for our patrons is one of the most important aspects of my job,” said Alfonso.

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SOTA Artistic Director Announces New Season

Maestro Pablo Mielgo finally arrived in South Florida, just days before the first planned concert of his inaugural 2021-22 season. A pandemic travel ban had left him and his family stuck in Spain for more than a year after being tapped for the position. Weeks ago, he conducted Mahler on the Amaturo Theater stage for the first time.

“It was almost a miracle, due to the difficulties with the COVID and the international restrictions. But I am so glad it was possible, and I have to thank all the support from the Symphony of the Americas to make it happen,” Mielgo said. “After more than one year … and not being able to work with the orchestra and to come back to live performances, it was incredible that we could make it happen. All the musicians, the staff, and the board joined back together with great energy. The first bars of Mahler’s 4th Symphony were a miracle after so many months without music.”

Now home in South Florida — which Mielgo calls “a paradise” — he’s turned his attention to the ambitious remainder of the season, monthly performances including: “More Than Tango – 100th Anniversary of Piazzolla,” Nov. 2; “Holidays of the Americas,” Dec. 3 – 4; “Salzburg in Florida,” Jan. 11; “Between Rio and Pampa — South America’s Cultural Crossroads,” Feb. 22; “From Russia with Love,” March 15; and “American Classics — Gershwin & Bernstein’s Broadway,” April 12.

“Every single program will be a fantastic experience for the orchestra and for the audience,” Mielgo explained. “I think we have made a programming proposal that shows very well what we want from Symphony of the Americas for the future. Make it a benchmark in the continental repertoire, honoring its name, and all the relationships with European music and the origins of classical music. We want each Symphony of the Americas concert to offer diverse content that reaches all layers of our society and explore this musical crossroad and intersection of culture, here in South Florida.”

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