Bill DeYoung, St Pete Cataylst, 19th May 2021

Michael Francis is on the phone, talking about The Florida Orchestra’s most recent big score: Eighty concerts since October, for 80 live audiences, in a safe and socially-distanced environment.

“Obviously, nobody wanted this terrible pandemic, but once it happened all we could do was make the best of it,” the erudite musical director, conductor and public face of the organization says. “And from what we can see, I think we’ve made the best of it of any orchestra in North America – and possibly even the world.”

When the “small orchestra, small concerts” idea was first proposed, Francis adds, it took a “complete buy-in” from everyone in the TFO family, including the musicians … and the audience. “It takes a huge coming together of people to make something work, which is not easy. It’s easier to shut down. But we really feel the value and necessity of our art form, and why it’s so important to people right now.”