Southwest Florida Symphony launches new series to attract new, diverse audience

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The Southwest Florida Symphony opens its 59th season with Brave New Music; a new concert series that crosses musical genres, incorporates audio-visual and performance art components that, in some cases, have never been seen before on the symphonic stage and it employs music as was often intended by so many composers, as a platform for social justice, equality and tolerance.
As Florida’s demographic becomes younger and more diverse, the Southwest Florida Symphony has made great strides to acclimate to the state’s ever-changing cultural landscape. In an effort to evolve with its community, a new concert series called Brave New Music was born. This series is not exactly pops, though features popular music, and not exactly classical, though typically features classical repertoire, is designed to encourage dedicated, knowledgeable classical music enthusiasts to examine familiar works through a new lens and to remove classical music’s historic intimidation factor for audiences that are not ordinary classical music consumers.
Brave New Music is the product of a sociological litmus test – an experiment that succeeded. In 2016, the symphony presented an indie rock-classical crossover concert with Glen Phillips, the lead singer and songwriter of 90s band, Toad the Wet Sprocket. The concert was met with mild curiosity. Though attendance was light, 85% of its patrons never attended an orchestral performance before and 15% of them traveled more than 50 miles to experience this world premiere concert.
In 2018, the symphony tried again, inviting singer/composer/ conductor/arranger Steve Hackman to lead the orchestra in his groundbreaking classical-grunge fusion of Brahms Symphony No. 1 and 90s rock band Radiohead’s album, OK Computer. This was met with significant sponsor interest and greater attendance, once again attracting audiences from outside of Lee County. Ending the symphony’s 58th season, Steve Hackman returned with his fusion of Beethoven Symphony No. 3 and the music of millennial pop band, Coldplay. This performance received even greater press coverage, sponsor interest and ultimately, an impressive audience that expressed a deep desire for more programs like this one.

Psycho: Launching its 59th season with Brave New Music, the symphony combines the art of film with live orchestral performance with its screening of the classic horror movie Psycho shown in tandem with the orchestra playing Bernard Hermann’s infamously chilling score. This performance happens in two cities; Punta Gorda at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 25 and Fort Myers at the Barbara B. Mann Hall at FSW on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Mashupalooza: As add-on options to the Brave New Music Series, patrons can include tickets to another Steve Hackman production on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Barbara B. Mann Hall called Mashupalooza, a program that fuses movements from great symphonic works by Beethoven, Mahler, Stravinsky, Bach and other revered composers, with the music of Adele, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, John Mayer and other current pop, rock, soul and urban music artists.

Ben Folds: Also offered as an add-on, masterfully weaving next season’s Brave New Music and Masterworks programming together, the symphony is presenting classically trained pianist/composer and indie-rock superstar Ben Folds to perform his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra on May 2.

SymPHABULOUS: The symphony’s final Brave New Music concert and season finale goes big and bold with SymPHABULOUS!: A Symphonic Drag Show, featuring drag artist and NBC’s The Voice finalist, Chris Weaver and his drag alter-ego, Nedra Belle, on Saturday, May 16 at Barbara B. Mann Hall.
Tickets to all SW Florida Symphony performances cost between $25 and $114 and are available by calling the symphony box office at 239-418-1500, by visiting the symphony box office located at 8290 College Parkway, Suite 103 in Fort Myers, by calling the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall box office at 239-481-4849 or online at http://www.swflso.orgTickets are also available at the door one hour before the performance.

Ben Folds

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