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Florida Orchestra announces 2015-16 season

The state’s largest performing arts organization is too busy mapping out a progressive future to worry about prognostications on the demise of classical music.

Yes, Beethoven and the boys are long dead, but they represent only part of a rich and relevant repertoire embraced by a thriving arts industry, including The Florida Orchestra, which today announces the lineup for its 2015-16 season.

Beginning in October, the orchestra will bring to life 10 works it has never performed as it follows a slightly more modern path than in previous years.

“The music director’s role is to give the audience a balanced diet so they come away from a program or the season feeling enhanced,’’ says Michael Francis, who takes over the podium from Stephan Sanderling. “The real issue isn’t the music, but communication. If people understand the concepts and purpose of the programs, you’ve accomplished your mission.’’

Francis — the fourth music director in the orchestra’s 48 years — pieced together a masterworks season of music that caresses as much as it challenges, with an emphasis on American music or composers who left Europe or Russia to live here. He calls this narrative, which runs through the entire season, an “American Odyssey.’’

“We’ll follow a silken thread woven through the season exploring some of the greatest music written by American composers, both living and past,’’ he says. “I’m fascinated by how American culture grew to be such an influence upon the international artistic and musical world, and so we’ll also hear music by some of the greatest composers who immigrated to America.’’

Highlights on this theme include John Adams’ “City Noir’’; Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony and the ever-popular “Appalachian Spring’’; John Cage’s rarely performed “Third Construction’’; Andrew Norman’s “Unstuck’’; and Christopher Rouse’s “Prospero’s Rooms.’’ Keeping true to the adventurous, the orchestra will offer its own first performances of Gabriel Faure’s “Dolly Suite’’; H.K. Gruber’s “Charivari’’; James MacMillan’s “The World’s Ransoming’’; and the Sixth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Balancing the new will be plenty of classic repeats: Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto; the violin concertos of Brahms and Mendelssohn; Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons’’; Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition’’; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 and Symphony No. 39; and the Suite from Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier.’’ Audiences can expect a good dose of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and other prominent composers.

“It’s important to play things people know,’’ Francis says. “Because it gives us a chance to work with the orchestra in a way they’re familiar with.’’

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay will tackle two major works: the “German Requiem’’ of Brahms and Handel’s heavenly oratorio “The Messiah.’’

In its mission to reach a broad audience, the orchestra will buffer its 14-concert masterworks series with nine pops programs, a dozen morning coffee-series gigs and three programs of orchestrated rock music.

Single tickets range from $15 to $65 and go on sale in August. Subscriptions are available now by calling (727) 892-3337 or visiting www.floridaorchestra.org. Performances are at the Straz Center in Tampa, the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

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Florida Orchestra announces 2015-16 season
Lineup includes thoughtful blend of old and new