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Suite Deal: Concert in the Park

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The Florida Orchestra frees classical music from the stuffy albeit acoustically superior confines of area concert halls and performs a program of light classics beneath the stars at Lowry Park Bandshell.The first park concert of the orchestra's 35th season takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, March 28.

It's a perfect family event, and folks can bring their kids, dogs, picnic baskets and blankets; they can loll around, chat quietly, daydream and even fall asleep (so long as they don't snore). For fans of the orchestra who're used to donning dress clothes for a show, it's a chance to go flip-flops-and-shorts casual.

The free park concerts are a way for the orchestra to connect with fans informally, thank them for their loyalty, expose newcomers to classical music and thereby increase its audience.

The program includes Dvorak's Carnival Overture, Op. 92, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story Overture, Sousa's Washington Post March, and a Duke Ellington medley.

Chelsea Tipton II, fourth-year associate conductor of the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, guest conducts. Tipton is known for his exuberant spirit and infectious enthusiasm.

As a clarinetist, Tipton has appeared on NBC's Today Show with Wynton Marsalis and performed as a section player with Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble, James Galway and the Eastman Philharmonia, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

One of the candidates for The Florida Orchestra's resident conductor position, Tipton has recently guest-conducted engagements with the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

As an added perk of the laid-back event, Tipton offers brief introductions to each piece. The emphasis may be on music appreciation, but expect the insights to be as lighthearted as they are informative.

Typically there are fireworks displays after The Florida Orchestra's free concerts in locations such as Straub Park. But due to the proximity of the bandshell to the animals at Lowry Park Zoo, there won't be fireworks after this performance.

Sponsors include TECO (so this is what they do with all our late fees!) and the Community Foundation.

Lowry Park Bandshell is at 7530 N. Boulevard. For more info, visit www.floridaorchestra.org or call 813-286-1170.—Cooper Cruz

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