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Review: Sarasota Orchestra launches a new era with debut of music director Bramwell Tovey

From the Sarasota Herald Tribune

By Gayle Williams

The Sarasota Orchestra launched a new chapter in its history Saturday night with the first official concert under the direction of its music director designate Bramwell Tovey at the Sarasota Opera House.

The Grammy and Juno Award-winning conductor and composer is only the fifth music director in the orchestra’s 72-year history, and you could feel a sense of collective gasp of both gratitude and amazement as the full complement of orchestral musicians showed that they had not only just survived the pandemic but were back with a vengeance.

Orchestra management and donors have worked miracles keeping the musicians employed and creatively productive over the past 18 months and making this concert possible.

Speaking to the audience Tovey revealed a gentle, self-deprecating sense of humor and an openness that initiated what we can hope will be a more intimate relationship with the community. We learned that his choices for this concert came from a sense of connection and admiration for Sarasota.

The Tovey era began with a bracing performance of Verdi’s Overture from “La forza del destino” in which every note and gesture seemed to sparkle with clarity. It was a knowing choice in the Sarasota Opera House, where is billed as Verdi’s American home. Tovey has a spare touch, nothing overly dramatic in the baton, but the results spanned the operatic range of emotions and dynamics.

Read the full review.