History of the Florida Philharmonic
Fort Lauderdale Symphony
In 1949 a high school band director by the name of John Canfield created the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra. There were 52 musicians that first season and tickets for the three concerts were $1 and $2 each (season tickets were $10). By the second year there were five concerts and 72 musicians (more than half were still nonprofessionals). The budget for the first two seasons amounted to a whopping $14,147. In 1963 Emerson Buckley was hired to conduct the orchestra. By 1975 the orchestra had to add a second performance of each concert set to accommodate their audiences (there was a waiting list for subscriptions!) and in 1977 they gave their first concert in the rapidly developing west Broward area (at the Sunrise Musical Theater). This was also the year that Symphony Hall (still used today for rehearsals) opened at a cost ($350,000) of almost as much as the War Memorial Auditorium.
Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida
In 1983 Paul McRae, principal trumpet with the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony, formed a chamber orchestra in Boca Raton with himself as conductor and many of the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony musicians as members. Two years later, his fledgling orchestra was merged with the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony to form the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida (now the Florida Philharmonic).
The Florida Philharmonic
Born in 1985 through a merger of the Fort Lauderdale Symphony and the Boca Raton Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida (or POOF, as it was originally known) has since been rechristened The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and has grown into the largest performing arts organization in the state and the largest orchestra south of Atlanta. Originally led by Fort Lauderdale Symphony conductor Emerson Buckley, James Judd became Music Director in 1987 and Peter Nero became Pops Conductor in 1992. They released their first CD in 1992 and their award-winning second CD, of Mahlerís Symphony No. 1, was released in 1994. In 2002, Joseph Silverstein was appointed Acting Music Director. They have been the orchestral voice of the Florida Grand Opera since even before the 1985 merger, and have accompanied artists such as Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Other honors include being invited to appear at the Montpellier Festival in France.
News & Announcements
The New World Symphony has appointed Maria Watson as Vice President, Marketing and Communications...Marc Thayer has been named director of the Community Partnership Programs at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra...former FPO Music Director James Judd has received the Moretti Award from the Cultural Foundation of Broward County for his "substantial contribution to the local arts scene" ...Key West Symphony conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso will collaborate with a Cuban orchestra in Havana as part of a cultural exchange...the Florida Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Thomas Sleeper, performed at Carnegie Hall this past April...The Florida Philharmonic has hired George Schram and Sara Hicks as Assistant Conductors and the "short list" of potential new music directors includes Marco Armiliato, Roberto Minczuk, Asher Fisch, David Lockington, and Christopher Wilkins...Leonid Sigal has been named Artistic Director-designate of the Miami Chamber Symphony...
New World Symphony $50,000 (NEA Creativity Grant)
Beethoven by the Beach Youth Orchestra Debuts
Under the direction of FPO violist Steven Svensson, the Youth Orchestra will make itís debut as part of the Florida Philharmonicís annual festival. The orchestra will perform itís own concert on July 7 at the Broward County Main Library, featuring two violin concerto competition winners, as well as side-by-side the Philharmonic on July 13. For more information, call 954-938-6700 or e-mail: bfyo[at]floridaphilharmonic[dot]org.