Southwest Florida Symphony Opens its 54th Masterworks Season, A Symphonic Voyage Across the World, with A Postcard from Italy on Saturday, November 15

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The Southwest Florida Symphony Opens its 54th Masterworks Season, A Symphonic Voyage Across the World, with

A Postcard from Italy on Saturday, November 15th

Fort Myers, Florida- The Southwest Florida Symphony, Lee County’s only professional orchestra and the one of oldest on Florida’s gulf coast, presents the first Masterworks Concert of its 54th season on Saturday, November 15th, 2014 entitled A Postcard from Italy. Masterworks I: A Postcard from Italy happens at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 8:00 p.m. Prior to the performance, at 7PM, patrons are invited to attend a conductor led pre-concert lecture. These lectures are offered in order to better educate audiences about the pieces being performed. Tickets cost between $22 and $82 per person and may be purchased online at, by visiting the Southwest Florida Symphony Box Office located at 8290 College Parkway, Suite 103 in Fort Myers, by calling the Symphony Box Office at (239) 418-1500 or at the Barbara B. Mann Box Office one and a half hours prior to the concert. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is located at 13350 Edison Parkway in Fort Myers.

Masteroworks I: A Postcard from Italy is guest conducted by Maestro Leif Bjaland. This concert pays tribute to the symphony’s new music director, Nir Kabaretti, who hails from Florence, Italy, with pieces by great Italian composers and music inspired by Italian culture. Musical selections include Rossini’s Overture to L’Italiana in Algieri, Vivaldi’s The Goldfinch, featuring a solo by the Southwest Florida Symphony’s own principal flutitst, Bill Larsen, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

Southwest Florida Symphony General Information

The Southwest Florida Symphony is the only professional orchestra in Lee County and the one of the oldest on Florida’s gulf coast. It enters its 54th season this year, having made its debut as a community orchestra on April 15, 1961. Conducted by Arlo Deibler, the Symphony began its life as a community orchestra and its original roster consisted of 24 musicians. It performed in community centers and schools throughout Lee and Collier Counties. It has since grown to become Lee County’s only professional symphony orchestra, filling Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall with symphonic music enthusiasts and a roster consisting of more than 65 world-class musicians. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 54th year promises to be a season of excitement and celebration as it welcomes its new maestro, internationally acclaimed Nir Kabaretti. The incoming music director will be the fifth in the organization’s history and was selected through a painstaking process of interviews, public appearances and live auditions during the 2013-14 season. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s mission is to celebrate the joy of music and to inspire audiences with a variety of quality concerts performed by professional musicians that are accessible to all.

This season features the Southwest Florida Symphony’s signature Masterworks Classical Concert Series, entitled A Symphonic Voyage Across the World (November 15, A Postcard from Italy; January 17, American Masterpieces; February 21, Viva España; March 28, From Russia with Love; and April 25 & 26, Beethoven: JOY!), a special Holiday Pops concert entitled Christmas in Paradise on Saturday, December 13 at Barbara B. Mann Hall, Monday, December 15 at the Shell Point Village Church and Wednesday, December 17 at BIG ARTS on Sanibel; its Pops Series entitled Quintessential Southwest Florida, (The Music of Champions: Sports Themes, Fight Songs & the Sounds of Team Spirit on February 6 & 7; A Tribute to Erich Kunzel on March 13 & 14; and Classic Country: A Salute to Dolly & Patsy on April 3 & 4), a Sanibel Series, performed at BIG ARTS on Sanibel Island (January 14, February 11 and March 11) and additional concerts at the Shell Point Village Church (January 13 and March 16),

Leif Bjaland Bio

Leif Bjaland is one of the most dynamic and exciting American conductors now before the public. He served as the Artistic Director/Conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra, during which time the orchestra saw unprecedented growth. Mr. Bjaland is currently the Music Director of the Waterbury Symphony in Connecticut where he has received enormous enthusiasm and critical praise for his performances and imaginative programming.

A popular and active guest conductor, Mr. Bjaland made his debut at the 2003 Ravinia Festival conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program entitled “Bernstein on Broadway” also involving soloists, chorus and dancers. He has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Fort Worth, Nashville, Detroit, Rochester, Utah, Madison, Akron, Fort Wayne, Fresno, Des Moines, Mobile, San Jose, Rhode Island, Virginia, Harrisburg, Colorado, Long Beach, Chicago’s Symphony II, Grand Rapids, Flint, Kalamazoo, and New World to name but a few. Mr. Bjaland led the Cincinnati Symphony at an opening concert of a Riverbend summer season, and conducted at Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival in consecutive summers of 1995 and 1996. In 2001, he conducted the opening week of the Interlochen Arts Festival, and in the summer of 2002 guest conducted the Young Artists Orchestra at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute culminating in a performance in Ozawa Hall.

Mr. Bjaland is also an active opera conductor and has assisted in the production of David Carlson’s The Midnight Angel at Glimmerglass Opera. He conducted the Florida Grand Opera in three productions in four years including a highly acclaimed Don Giovanni a triple bill of oneact operas by Manuel de Falla El Amor Brujo, Master Peter’s Puppet Show and La Vida Breve; and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Bjaland received great attention and critical acclaim when he gave the world premiere concert performance of George Chadwick’s opera The Padrone. In 200001 Leif Bjaland conducted a new commission by the Florida West Coast Symphony of David Carlson’s Quantumsymphony.

Bill Larsen Bio

William Larsen has been the principal flute of the Southwest Florida Symphony for more than twenty-nine years.  Bill has acted as soloist with the symphony on such works as Vivaldi’s Concerto for Piccolo in C Major, Bach’s Suite in b Minor for Flute and Strings, Griffes’ Poem for Flute and Orchestra, Rutter’s Suite Antique and a Latin jazz arrangement by Jeff Tyzik of Bach’s Sicilliano from his Sonata in E flat.  Mr. Larsen in conjunction with his wife Beth Larsen, also a flutist, has performed Bach’s Brandenburg No. 4.  On April 16, 2011, Mr. Larsen premiered Pandora’s Waltz: a flute concerto written by James Stephenson III in honor of his 25th season with the SWFSO.

Bill earned his Bachelors of Music in Performance from Arizona State University and his Master of Music in Performance from the College-Conservatory of Music, associated with the University of Cincinnati.  His teachers include Jose Corral (Phoenix Symphony), Eric Hoover (ASU), Walfrid Kujala (Chicago Symphony), Kyril Magg (Cincinnati Symphony), William Bennett (International soloist) and Peter Lloyd (former principal of the London Symphony).  Mr. Larsen is currently on the faculty of Edison State College.

Southwest Florida Symphony Sponsors

The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 2014-15 sponsors include The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, The City of Ft. Myers, The State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, The Florida Council on Arts & Culture, The Southwest Florida Symphony Endowment Foundation, The Southwest Florida Symphony Society, The L.A.T. Foundation, Uhler & Vertich Financial Planners, Mr. Richard Prescott, Advanced Pain Management & Spine Specialists, The Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation, Rev. Gary & Mrs. Christine LaCroix, Mr. & Mrs. Charles B. Munsch, Mr. Don Fjellin, ‘Tween Waters Inn, Bailey’s General Store, Crowne Plaza, Shoeless Joe’s, Mastello Restaurant, Sheeley Architects, Eric Diefenbach & JK Brown, LCEC, The Cape Coral Community Foundation, Baird Private Wealth Management and Rebecca Ross, Mr. & Mrs. Stefan & Christine Riesenfeld, The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, The City of Fort Myers, The Friends of the Symphony on Sanibel, The Friends of Beethoven and Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Charlotte Qua.

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Event: Southwest Florida Symphony’s Masterworks I: A Postcard from Italy

Date: Saturday, November 15, 2014

Location: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

Time: 8:00 p.m. with a pre-concert lecture at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets: $22-$82

For more information, call 239-418-1500 or visit

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