Bill DeYoung, St. Pete Catalyst, 17th April 2020

The Florida Orchestra’s music director, Michael Francis, appeared in a wide-ranging Catalyst Sessions interview earlier this week. During a discussion of the organization’s new TFO At Home initiative, he described “a lot of content from us really trying to make sure people will feel very connected.”

TFO At Home, accessible through the website and the Facebook page, includes more than 20 homemade videos from the orchestra’s musicians, playing for their computer video cameras and smartphones.

“There’s a lot of stuff,” said Francis. “There’s one thing with a trumpet and a barking dog. And the most popular clip is of a double bass player playing a section of a Beethoven symphony with the Beethoven in the background and him playing up close. It’s rather humorous. I can say that as a former bass player myself. It brought a smile to my face. And that’s been watched thousands of times.”

Francis then alluded to something bigger. “What we’ll be doing, more and more, is creating this content where we put things together through video editing, and more original things.”

Just arrived is a virtual performance of the finale to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4., featuring 38 TFO musicians playing as one, with associate conductor Daniel Black “conducting.” Francis himself appears near the end of the 2:23 clip.

Each musician taped his or her part individually, to a click track, and submitted the piece to Black, who mixed the audio and produced the video – called Thank You, Tampa Bay.

Francis explained the choice of music in a brief statement accompanying the video. “Jeff and I chose the end of the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 because of its brilliant optimism,” he said. “Even though the symphony begins in darkness and fear, by the end a glorious celebration of hope shines through. It is exhilaration unleashed!”