By Amy Ginsburg

Southwest Florida Symphony

The Southwest Florida Symphony opens its 59th season with Brave New Music, a new concert series that crosses musical genres, incorporates audio-visual and performance art components that, in some cases, have never been seen before on the symphonic stage and it employs music as was often intended by so many composers, as a platform for social justice, equality and tolerance.

The Southwest Florida Symphony is the fourth oldest continuously operating orchestra in the State of Florida. As was intended at its inception, it continues to serve as a “living Music Hall of Fame,” performing great classical repertoire written for full orchestra and chamber ensembles. As Florida’s demographic evolves, becoming younger and more diverse, the Southwest Florida Symphony has made great strides to acclimate to the state’s ever-changing cultural landscape. In an effort to evolve with its community, Brave New Music was born. This series is not exactly pops, though features popular music, and not exactly classical, though typically features classical repertoire, is designed to encourage dedicated, knowledgeable classical music enthusiasts to examine familiar works through a new lens and to remove classical music’s historic intimidation factor for audiences that are not ordinary classical music consumers. Ultimately, this is a way to demonstrate the relevance of orchestral music to new patrons of the arts and to lead classical audiophiles on a musical journey that begins in familiar territory for them.

Brave New Music is the product of a sociological litmus test — an experiment that succeeded. In 2016, the Symphony presented an indie rock-classical crossover concert with Glen Phillips, the lead singer and songwriter of Toad the Wet Sprocket. The concert was met with mild curiosity. Though attendance was light, 85% of its patrons never attended an orchestral performance before and 15% of them traveled more than 50 miles to experience this world premiere concert. In 2018, the Symphony tried again, inviting singer/composer/conductor/arranger Steve Hackman to lead the orchestra in his groundbreaking classical-grunge fusion of Brahms Symphony No. 1 and rock band Radiohead’s album, “OK Computer.” This was met with significant sponsor interest and greater attendance, once again attracting audiences from outside of Lee County. Ending the Symphony’s 58th season, Steve Hackman returned with his fusion of Beethoven Symphony No. 3 and the music of millennial pop band, Coldplay. This performance received even greater press coverage, sponsor interest and ultimately, an impressive audience that expressed a deep desire for more programs like this one.

Launching its 59th season with Brave New Music, the Symphony combines the art of film with live orchestral performance with its screening of the classic horror movie “Psycho” shown in tandem with the orchestra playing Bernard Hermann’s infamously chilling score. This performance happens in two cities: at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Punta Gorda on Oct. 25 and Fort Myers at the Barbara B. Mann Hall at FSW on Oct. 26.

As add-on options to the Brave New Music series, patrons can include tickets to another Steve Hackman production on Feb. 29 at Barbara B. Mann Hall called “Mashupalooza,” a program that fuses movements from great symphonic works by Beethoven, Mahler, Stravinsky, Bach and other revered composers, with the music of Adele, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Jon Mayer and other current pop, rock, soul and urban music artists. Also offered as an add-on, masterfully weaving next season’s Brave New Music and Masterworks programming together, the Symphony is proud to present classically trained pianist/composer and indie-rock superstar, Ben Folds to perform his “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” on May 2.

The Symphony’s final Brave New Music concert and season finale goes big and bold with “SymPHABULOUS!: A Symphonic Drag Show” featuring drag artist and NBC’s “The Voice” finalist, Chris Weaver and his drag alter-ego, Nedra Belle, on May 16 at Barbara B. Mann Hall.

Tickets to all Southwest Florida Symphony performances are available by calling the Southwest Florida Symphony box office at 239-418-1500, by visiting the Southwest Florida Symphony box office located at 8290 College Parkway, Suite 103, Fort Myers, by calling the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall box office at 239-481-4849 or online at www.SWFLSO.org. Tickets are also available at the door one hour before the performance.

CPAC is at 701 Carmalita St, Punta Gorda. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is at 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers.

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