Florida Orchestra conducts first Pride Weekend

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The Florida Orchestra (TFO) will hold its inaugural Pride Weekend across two performing arts centers Oct. 5-6.
TFO, which launches its 51st season Sept. 28, is Florida’s largest professional symphony orchestra. The organization performs nearly 100 concerts annually in and outside of its three main concert halls—Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

Pride Weekend will highlight “Bernstein’s Broadway,” honoring the centennial of American composer Leonard Bernstein’s birth. Its three performances, one at the Straz Center Oct. 5 and two at the Mahaffey Theater Oct. 6, will feature selections from “West Side Story,” “Candide,” “On the Town” and more. “It’s going to be a really exciting concert, the music will appeal to a broad range of people,” TFO Community Engagement Director Erin Horan says. “It’s going to be a really fun weekend to see the orchestra.”

The upcoming weekend follows TFO’s outing at St. Pete Pride, which Community Engagement Manager Daryn Bauer says led the organization to expand its LGBTQ outreach. “We had a great experience going out into the community and sharing information about what we do,” he recalls. “I thought it would be great to do something at the concert hall as well.”

Bauer says he also saw it as an opportunity to partner with Come OUT St. Pete (COSP). The second annual celebration runs Oct. 4-7 and culminates on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day. “It’s a great fit,” he says. “With all of the work they do in the Grand Central District, we’ve been able to see how fast they’re growing and how much they’re doing.”

Pride Weekend will raise awareness for COSP while also highlighting the Gay Men’s Chorus of Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Pride Band. Prior to the main performances and during the intermissions of “Bernstein’s Broadway,” attendees will be able to meet with each group’s performers and learn about each organization.

“It’s a really nice way to connect with people,” Horan says. “It lets our patrons see all of the great parts of our community, right in the lobby.”
“The Florida Orchestra has been working to be more involved with the community and has been working to strengthen our relationships with community partners,” Bauer says. “We want people to know that everyone is welcome to come see the orchestra.”

TFO Pride Weekend’s “Bernstein’s Broadway” plays Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. at the Straz Center and Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m at the Mahaffey Theater. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit FloridaOrchestra.org.

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