Hands down, Sarasota is rich in art, culture and music. Having lived in New York and attending hundreds of concerts and performances in The Big Apple for 50 years, I can say for certain that Sarasota draws some of the best talent internationally, nationally, regionally and locally.

This week’s feature is dedicated to many organizations that offer some fine performances from local artist, some of whom are young, emerging artists: Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, and Pops Orchestra of Bradenton & Sarasota. Mark your calendars for any number of March performances that won’t break your bank account and also inspire you. I’m hooked. You will be, too!

Spotlight on Thriving, Young Artists

The Sarasota area has produced many accomplished artists, but this upcoming March, tune into the Artist Series Concerts. Here you will find a performance by clarinetist Daniel Solowey, the son of two Sarasota Orchestra musicians. He was featured on NPR’s From the Top where he was a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist award winner at age 17. Solowey is currently a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Artist Series Concerts brings this rising star home to Sarasota for one of two performances:

Marcy Miller, executive director, told me, “Among so  many others, we’re so excited to have Michelle Cann, a Sphinx Medal of Excellence winner, in our March lineup. Our two other featured young artists, Daniel Solowey and Samantha Bennett, have deep ties to Sarasota and we’re thrilled to bring them back for these concerts.”

In addition to the young musicians mentioned above, violinist Samantha Bennett of Sarasota Orchestra (now with the Dallas Opera orchestra), will present a program of music that has inspired her career. She will perform works by Prokofiev and Berio, as well as perhaps the most famous unaccompanied violin piece of all, the Chaconne of JS Bach. Bennett performs at the Sarasota Yacht Club on March 23; the 11:00 a.m. performance is followed by lunch.

Note: This series is sponsored by Sora Yelin, in loving memory of Cary Yelin

An Orchestra that Really POPS!

The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton & Sarasota 

Who are they and who plays in The Pops Orchestra?
They are teachers, parents, neighbors, students. They have jobs. They have children. They have homes and schedules and commitments. They teach at local colleges, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. They work in business, the arts and health care. Some are retired. Some are military veterans. They live in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Anna Maria Island, Punta Gorda, Nokomis, Sun City Center, St. Petersburg, and Holmes Beach among others. Some of them are snowbirds. And they are all musicians with The Pops Orchestra. This season we they have more than 60 musicians who bring their skill, passion and talent to the stage.

Their motto is, “Music You Love, Musicians You Know.”
The Pops Orchestra is the community orchestra for the greater Bradenton/Sarasota community. With more than 65 instrumentalists, including some of the finest professional, amateur and student musicians throughout the area and led by Dr. Robyn Bell, the Pops presents high quality musical entertainment at affordable prices.bTickets start at $30 with $5 tickets for students/children. More information and tickets are available at www.thepopsorchestra.org. For tickets, visit: info@thepopsorchestra.org, (941) 926-7677 or see the YouTube video here.

Here’s the March lineup, and for Judy Garland fans, don’t miss:

Their grand finale show this season features songstress Joan Ellison in a celebration of Judy Garland’s incredible musical output. Through the kindness and permission of the Judy Garland Heirs Trust, Joan and the Pops will be performing Judy’s original symphonic arrangements that will take you on a nostalgic trip from technicolor Hollywood to Carnegie Hall. This hit parade includes “The Trolley Song,” “Stormy Weather,” “Chicago,” “That’s Entertainment,” “Get Happy,” “Over the Rainbow,” and many more! Bring your smiles, dancing shoes, and everybody you know to this incredible concert experience. Tickets start at $30 with $5 tickets for students/children. Joan Ellison who is a near voice double for her idol will be in Sarasota/Bradenton in just a few weeks! She has made a specialty of reviving Judy Garland’s repertoire from the golden Hollywood years to her Carnegie Hall concert and television show, including restoring Ms. Garland’s glorious original orchestrations. Get your tickets now before these amazing shows sell out.

La Musica Festival

You may not be as familiar with this organization as others, but know that La Musica has established itself as an artistic and critical success and an outstanding American cultural institution. The preeminent chamber music festival was founded in 1987. From the beginning, the Festival was notable for bringing audiences into the creative process through open rehearsals, lectures, and other opportunities to meet the musicians. In its earliest years, performances were given in the historic Asolo Opera House at the Ringling Museum, but La Musica’s audiences soon outgrew its capacity and performances moved to the Sarasota Opera House in 1992.

Throughout its history, La Musica has collaborated with other cultural organizations, both national (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center) and local (Sarasota Film Society, Sarasota Ballet, Ringling College of Art and Design, GuitarSarasota). New works have been commissioned and/or premiered by Sussani, Turchi, Wallach, Bracali, Wyner, Hyman, Iyer, Winn, Tower, and Bilik.

Pianist Wu Han was appointed Artistic Director in 2022. La Musica today fulfills its mission to bring together the finest musicians from around the world to present exciting programs of familiar and seldom-heard chamber music, communicating a joy in performance to enthusiastic audiences. Performances begin in March and continue into April:

Monday, March 13, 2023  at 7:30 p.m.
Riverview Performing Arts Center, one Ram Way, Sarasota

Directly from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center stage, this program opens and closes with vibrant, beloved classics by Aaron Copland and George Gershwin. In between are short personal statements inspired by the composers’ relationship to religion, their interpretation to native folk music, and the deeply intimate reaction to the death of a friend. Take a trip in sound from the pulsating dance hall to the quieter prayer in this exploration of music from the Americas in the 20th century.

Thanks to the generosity of La Musica’s board of directors, La Musica is able to offer FREE tickets to music students age 18 and under and accompanying parents or siblings to every concert at the opera house this season. Students are also welcome to attend weekend open rehearsals and talk with the musicians during breaks and after rehearsal. This is an opportunity unique to La Musica and enhances the onstage performance by making the experience personal. For information about how to apply for tickets, please call Joan Sussman at (704) 293-4907.

Finally, to round out this list of top, affordable music choices in March, here are a few more choices, some of which are free to the public: