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August 1, 2014IM -
The Florida Orchestra (TFO) has announced the appointment of Michael Francis as its new music director with a three-year contract beginning in the 2015-2016 season. Francis will serve as music director designate during the 2014-2015 season, conducting two masterworks programs. Although his primary role is with the Masterworks series, he will also conduct one Raymond James Pops concert and Coffee Concert each season. This reflects Francis’ desire to be fully integrated in every part of the organization.
The orchestra’s music director search process took more than three years, ending one year earlier than the initial four-year projection. In TFO’s near 50-year history, Francis will be the fourth music director. He recently completed his second season as chief conductor and artistic advisor to Sweden’s Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and has been hailed as a rising star in the conducting world both in the US and abroad.
Orchestra musicians serving on the search committee included concertmaster Jeffrey Multer, assistant principal second violin Lucas Guideri, and principal bass Dee Moses, all of Local 427-721 (Clearwater, FL), as well as principal flute Clay Ellerbroek of Local 325 (San Diego, CA).
“When you play in an orchestra, all the musicians need a clear idea of what the grand plan is to produce an exciting performance,” says Multer. “You need one person in charge, with an artistic vision and sensibility. Michael Francis has that wonderful balance of heart and mind. He immediately demonstrated to us that he was capable of producing an exciting performance. He had a great concept of all the details, an exciting interpretation, and he helped us realize the vision.”
Multer adds, “With Michael, from the very first moment, we sensed the good chemistry. We responded well to him, and he to us. I could feel that the orchestra was responding fully. He made the orchestra feel good. That’s key. If an orchestra doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t sound good.”