Ocala Symphony Orchestra releases season schedule

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted April 30, 2021 | By Susan Smiley-Height, Ocala Gazette

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reilly Arts Center and Ocala Symphony Orchestra (OSO) still found ways to engage the community, such as hosting live online broadcasts, until they could begin to once again welcome guests for concerts and special events.

They also committed to a near 16,000-square-foot expansion planned long before COVID-19. Soon, the OSO’s 2021-2022 season will bring live performances to the renovated center showcasing an expanded lobby and a new multipurpose black box theater space.

On Nov. 20 and 21, the orchestra kicks off its new season showcasing world-renowned guest artists, multi-media performances, timeless masterpieces and works by new composers.


Since opening in the fall of 2015, the Reilly Arts Center, 500 NE 9th St., has become an entertainment destination. Besides serving as the home of the OSO, it is a community resource for other groups.

“There were some bright musical moments in the last year: rare live concert experiences here and there, the opportunity to connect with our audiences in new and innovative ways, and the time to reflect on each of our own individual reasons for making and appreciating music,” said Matthew Wardell, OSO music director and conductor. “For me though, absence certainly did make the heart grow fonder. The time away confirmed my feeling that there is an innate importance to experiencing live music together. Whether the music is 200 years old, or still warm to the touch, it just feels plain good to experience it together. I know I speak for the entire orchestra when I say we dearly missed performing for our regular audiences.”

Wardell noted that the new season will include established masterworks such as Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” “The Unfinished” Symphony No. 7 in B-Minor by Schubert and Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

“We’re going to showcase some often-overlooked works like Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2 ‘The Four Temperaments’ and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Ballade.’ Along the way, you’ll hear other great American works by Charles Ives and Missy Mazzoli, and we’re going to pay tribute to John Williams’ 90th birthday,” he said.

The season’s offerings will include “Pops! Goes the Holidays” in December with Howard Blake’s music from “The Snowman” played along with the animated film.

In the spring, by popular request, there will be an encore performance of the music of David Bowie and Philip Glass combined with orchestra and rock band, and the OSO Chorus will perform Handel’s “Messiah.”

“It’s a season that truly shows the tremendous possibilities inherent in orchestral music, the depth of emotion and power it can project, the fun and beauty that brings all of us together, and the wonder and exploration in life that the greatest composers and musicians have shared with one another for generations,” Wardell stated.

The Reilly Arts Center is named in honor of Robert Reilly, a local philanthropist and patron of the arts who donated $700,000 toward the initial renovation of the former city auditorium in memory of his late wife, Bonnie. The venue, built in the late 1930s, is a cornerstone of the city of Ocala’s Tuscawilla Park.

“The Reilly’s expansion heightens the guest experience from the moment they walk in the door,” said Pamela Calero Wardell, Reilly executive director. “Our new lobby is spacious and features floor-to-ceiling glass, classic chandeliers and a modern box office. This is an update that will give concert-goers a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy a cocktail and spend time with friends before the show.”

She noted that the expansion features a black box theater that can accommodate many different performances including an intimate jazz session, theater in the round or even a stand-up comedy act.

The additions also include an expanded catering kitchen, classrooms and rehearsal rooms. The additions were paid for through donations, including a generous gift from The David and Lisa Midgett Foundation, Calero Wardell said.

The OSO is a nonprofit group founded in 1975. Wardell has been conductor since 2009.

To learn more about OSO events and the new season, visit reillyartscenter.com/symphony/orchestra/.

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2021-2022 Ocala Symphony Orchestra Concert Season:

Variations on Opening Night
Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

Pianist Jasmin Arakawa joins the full orchestra for Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and the variation theme continues with music from Ives and Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

Pops! Goes the Holidays
Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 5, 3 p.m.

OSO brings Howard Blake’s score to the animated short film, “The Snowman,” to life. Along with the film, expect sleigh rides and sing-alongs, and, possibly, a reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The Four Temperaments
Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 30, 3 p.m.

Raymond Chobaz leads the orchestra through Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2 “The Four Temperaments,” a new work by award-winning composer Paul Richards and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with special guest Kevin Sharpe.

90 Years of John Williams
Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 20, 3 p.m.

Celebrating John Williams’ 90th birthday with a review of his extensive film catalogue including scores from “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” “The Patriot,” “Superman,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jaws” and more.

The Unfinished
March 19, 7:30 p.m.; March 20, 3 p.m.

Winners of the Young Artist Competition take the stage with the OSO, along with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Ballade” and Schubert’s B minor symphony “The Unfinished.”

21st Century Anthology
April 9, 7:30 p.m.; April 10, 3 p.m.

Wardell’s selection of future classics features Missy Mazzoli’s tribute to the city of Detroit, “River Rouge Transfiguration”; Michael Daugherty’s piece in memory of his father, “Reflections on the Mississippi for Tuba and Orchestra”; and Mason Bates’ “The Anthology of Fantastic Zoology,” which will showcase every section of the orchestra musically illustrating the fantastical creatures of Jorge Luis Borges’ 1957 “Book of Imaginary Beings.”

Special Events

Symphony Under the Lights
Dec. 3, 7 p.m.

The OSO and Ocala Youth Symphony offer a joyful annual concert that is free and open to the public. Enjoy hot chocolate under the ancient oaks of Tuscawilla Park and bring a blanket or chair.

Bowie and Glass Return
March 5, 7:30 p.m.

The OSO and Voltron Collective bring you Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 4 “Heroes” juxtaposed with the David Bowie songs that inspired it. Originally presented in spring of 2019, this has been the OSO’s most requested repeat concert.

Handel’s “Messiah”
April 24, 3 p.m.

Choir master and conductor Joshua Mazur returns to lead the combined orchestra and choir through “Messiah” and selections from “Water Music.”

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