From Jimmy Buffett to Beethoven: Jacksonville Symphony gearing up for 75th season (2024)

  • The Jacksonville Symphony will kick off its 75th anniversary season in September.
  • The season will include more than 40 guest artists, the world premiere of three new works, a Jimmy Buffett tribute and visits from Harry Potter and Han Solo.
  • Season subscriptions are now available. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale July 8.

When the Jacksonville Symphony kicks off its 75th anniversary season in September, it will be the real deal.

The symphony was indeed formed in 1949 but, unlike almost every other orchestra in the country, has played every season since. During the pandemic, Jacksonville's orchestra was one of just a handful that still played, even if some of the performances were online or in front of limited-capacity crowds.

"We played through Covid and next year will be our 75th anniversary," said Steven Libman, president and CEO of the symphony. "We win every game every weekend, we’ve been undefeated for 75 years."

From Jimmy Buffett to Beethoven: Jacksonville Symphony gearing up for 75th season (1)

The symphony has big plans for the 2024-25 season, which kicks off in September. It will be the 75th year for the symphony, the 40th for the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and the 10th for Courtney Lewis, the symphony's music director and principal conductor.

The season will include more than 40 guest artists, the world premiere of three new works, a Jimmy Buffett tribute and visits from Harry Potter and Han Solo.

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The season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 21, at Jacoby Symphony Hall, with a performance of Gustav Mahler's second symphony. Lewis will conduct and the symphony will be joined by two guest singers, the symphony chorus and additional singers from Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida. "We thought it was a great way to showcase our close relationship with the universities," Libman said.

The Florida Blue Classical Series will see the symphony perform works by the big names you'd expect to see in a symphony season — Rachmaninoff, Elgar, Beethoven, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dvorak. That series also includes a visit from the Marcus Roberts Trio and two world premieres, one by artist-in-residence Conrad Tao in April and another by Carlos Simon in June.

"The Jacksonville Symphony continues to breathe life into the artistic repertoire," Libman said. "Mozart and Beethoven were original at one point and had their premieres."

Also making its debut is a Pops Series show, "Parrots + Palms: The Songs of Buffett & Fins," which features the works of Jimmy Buffett, Zac Brown, Van Morrison, Bob Marley and others. The show, which will include guest performers, was in the works before Buffett died last year. Libman said once the kinks are worked out, the show will be offered to other symphonies. The Buffett shows are planned for Sept. 13-14.

The Pops Series also includes the symphony doing the works of Donna Summer, Cher, "West Side Story," the Eagles, Marvin Gaye, Irving Berlin, John Williams and Olivia Newton-John. The symphony will also play the score to the first "Star Wars" movie and the last two in the Harry Potter series while the films are projected on a big screen overhead.

Special events include a visit from 10-time Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Take 6 and a Violins of Hope performances featuring violins, violas and cellos that had been owned by Holocaust victims.

Libman said the season was intentionally designed to mix classical and popular music. It also includes holiday favorites, a jazz series featuring local musicians, more of the popular after-work Symphony in 60 and concerts featuring the pipe organ. Libman said there are some people who come to see everything the symphony does, but generally there are different audiences for different types of music, and the symphony is trying to reach out to everyone by programming a wide variety.

"It’s extremely important," he said. "The symphonic world is changing and it is very important that we remain relevant to our community."

Season subscriptions are now available. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale July 8, but the Buffett show will go on sale July 1.

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more.

From Jimmy Buffett to Beethoven: Jacksonville Symphony gearing up for 75th season (2024)

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