By Lawrence Budmen

At a press conference on August 25, 2004 at the Boca Grove Plantation in Boca Raton, plans were announced for a new symphony orchestra for South Florida. The new ensemble - the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia - will make its official debut in the 2005-2006 but will perform a four concert outdoor series during 2004-2005 and will be the official orchestra of the Master Chorale of South Florida with performances scheduled in the tri-county area. The orchestra will be the first new, fully professional symphonic ensemble in South Florida since the demise of the Florida Philharmonic in April, 2003. 

Marshall Turkin, general director of the new organization and former executive director of the Detroit and Pittsburgh Symphonies and of the Chicago Symphony's summer Ravinia Festival and the Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Festival, noted that he was motivated to organize the new ensemble by "impatience. In the season since the Florida Philharmonic ceased to exist, there have been several well intentioned individuals with plans for a new orchestra, but nothing has come to fruition. While many former Florida Philharmonic musicians now play in the orchestra pit for the Florida Grand Opera or the Palm Beach Opera or the Miami City Ballet, they were not trained to play in pit ensembles," Turkin said. He emphasized that the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia would be a small symphony orchestra, not a chamber orchestra. The ensemble will have a core membership of 29 players with additional musicians hired on a per performance basis. (Of the 29 core players, 28 are former Florida Philharmonic musicians. All first chair positions will be filled by former FPO players.) Turkin noted that the world renowned St. Paul Chamber Orchestra began in this very manner. (Today that ensemble has an $11,000,000.00 budget.) Turkin plans for the ensemble to play large scale orchestral repertoire. For the first several seasons, the orchestra will perform under guest conductors, some of whom may be potential music director candidates. There will be major guest artists as soloists at most concerts. Jeffrey Kaye, former principal trumpet of the Florida Philharmonic, is the new orchestra's personnel manager.

Martin B. and Edith Stein, cultural and community philanthropists in South Palm Beach County, have made a $50,000.00 challenge grant to underwrite the orchestra's first season. Martin Coyne, chairman of the new organization's Leadership Council and a former chairman of the Florida Philharmonic Executive Board, reported that two patrons have already made $5,000.00 pledges to match the Steins' challenge. The initial season's budget is projected at $150,000.00. Coyne emphasized that the orchestra will initially be a low budget operation with minimal support staff. "We wanted to create an orchestra that could present an annual series of concerts in a financially sound way. I do not want to repeat the mistakes of the Florida Philharmonic where the budget grew too fast and imploded," Coyne noted. Coyne said that all the former Florida Philharmonic patrons he had contacted (throughout South Florida) were highly enthusiastic about the new orchestra.

Beginning with the 2005-2006 season, the orchestra will play a five concert Sunday matinee series in the 488 seat University Theater on the campus of Florida Atlantic University. All concerts in the inaugural season will feature a score by an American composer. (The Symphonia will eventually become the resident ensemble at the projected 1400 seat concert hall and education center at the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park.) The new group will also undertake a major music education program. The full ensemble will perform Side-by-Side concerts with students from the public school system and the musicians will give master classes for talented students. 

Before the orchestra's first official season, the ensemble will present a four concert light classical series (during the 2004-2005 season) at the Count de Hoernle Amphitheater at the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park (561-966-3309). Concert dates are November 6, 2004 and January 8, March 12, and April 2, 2005. The opening concert on November 6th will feature Mendelssohn's "Italian Symphony" and will be conducted by Albert George Schram (Principal Pops Conductor of the Columbus Symphony and Director of the Lynn University Conservatory of Music Orchestra) who conducted the Florida Philharmonic's final concert in April, 2003. The concluding concert on April 2 - "A Night in Vienna" will be free to the public. Beginning in January, 2005, Turkin will produce a chamber music series at Zinman Hall in Boca Raton featuring members of the new ensemble and guest artists.

As the orchestra for the Master Chorale of South Florida, the ensemble will take part in the South Florida premiere of Franz Schubert's "Mass No.6 in E-flat Minor" under the baton of Jo-Michael Scheibe, the chorale's artistic director and conductor of the University of Miami Chorale. Presentations in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties include an April 21, 2005 matinee performance at the First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables. (Tickets are available by calling (954) 418-6232 or online at Organizers indicated they were speaking to other artistic organizations in the tri-county area about collaborative projects.

The orchestra's official inaugural season commences on November 27, 2005 at Boca Raton's University Theater (at FAU) with the distinguished German conductor Martin Fischer-Dieskau on the podium. A newly commissioned work (to commemorate the launching of the new ensemble) by Boca Raton composer Stuart Glazer - "Concertino for Chamber Orchestra' - highlights the program. A rare performance of "American Serenade" by Hungarian composer-conductor Antal Dorati will also be featured. (Fischer-Dieskau was Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony under Dorati.) Two pillars of the Austro-German symphonic repertoire complete the program - Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" and Beethoven's "Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major" ("Eroica").

Alastair Willis, Resident Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, takes the podium on December 18th for Beethoven's "Creatures of Prometheus" Overture, the Suite from the ballet "Pulcinella" by Igor Stravinsky (adapted from the music of Pergolessi), and "Musica Celestis" by Pulitzer Prize Winner Aaron Jay Kernis. The First Prize Winner of the 2005 American Chopin Competition will be soloist in a Beethoven concerto. 

The Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia greets the New Year on January 8, 2006 with the Music Director of the Eugene (Oregon) Symphony and former Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra Giancarlo Guerrero leading Mozart's "Symphony No.35 in D Major ("Haffner"), Aaron Copland's rarely heard "Three Latin American Sketches," and the powerful "Chamber Symphony," by Shostakovich - Rudolf Barshai's orchestral transcription of Shostakovich's 14th String Quartet. The Paris based violinist Shunsuke Sato will be the evening's soloist in Prokofiev's haunting "Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major." 

Alexander Platt, Music Director of Woodstock, New York's Maverick Concerts and Principal Conductor and Music Advisor of the Chicago Opera Theater, takes the podium on February 12, 2006 for Haydn's "Symphony No.86 in D Major" ("Paris"), "Lyric for Strings" by awarding winning American composer George Walker, and Mozart's "Symphony No.31 in D Major" ("Paris"). (The program presents symphonic portraits of 18th century Paris by both Haydn and Mozart.) Pianist William Wolfram (Silver Medal Winner of both the William Kapell and Namberg International Piano Competitions and Bronze Medal Winner in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Competition) plays Shostakovich's ironic "Piano Concerto No.1 in C Minor."

The premier season of the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia concludes on March 12, 2006 with Mischa Santora, Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, Artistic Advisor to the New York Youth Symphony, and Music Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, conducting Mozart's Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro," Charles Ives's bucolic "Symphony No.3" ("Camp Meeting"), and Prokofiev's neo-classical "Symphony No.1 in D Major ("Classical"). Leeds International Piano Competition Winner Ilya Itin does the solo honors in Mozart's "Piano Concerto No.27 in B-flat Major."

Those interested in being on the orchestra's mailing list should call (561) 479-3108 or e-mail More information on the new orchestra is available at 

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All material copyright protected - Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, Florida USA

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