The Southwest Florida Symphony presents A Tribute to Erich Kunzel featuring home-grown talent, Maestro Jim Stephenson and vocalist, Zack Dobbins, on Friday, March 13th and Saturday, March 14th at 8PM

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8290 College Pkwy Suite 103 Ft. Myers, FL 33919 239-418-1500

The Southwest Florida Symphony presents A Tribute to Erich Kunzel featuring home-grown talent, Maestro Jim Stephenson

and vocalist, Zack Dobbins


Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015

Contact: (239) 418-0996

E-mail: Amy Padilla at [email protected]

Fort Myers, FL The Southwest Florida Symphony, Lee County’s only professional orchestra and one of the oldest symphony orchestras on Florida’s gulf coast, presents the next concert in its Pops Series, A Tribute to Erich Kunzel, on Friday, March 13th and Saturday, March 14th at 8PM. Conducted by home-grown talent, former Naples Philharmonic trumpeter and Erich Kunzel protégé, Jim Stephenson, A Tribute to Erich Kunzel honors the spirit, style and personality of late Southwest Florida Symphony Pops and Cincinnati Pops conductor, Erich Kunzel. A Tribute to Erich Kunzel features a nostalgic evening honoring the musical interests and themes made famous by Kunzel. “This show will be a retrospective on the life and career of a master pops conductor and brilliant musician,” says Jim Stephenson, who will lead the Southwest Florida Symphony in these performances. A Tribute to Erich Kunzel also features Fort Myers native and rising musical theater star, Zack Dobbins and Argentine soprano, Melissa Batallés. 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 hour prior to the concert. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is located at 13350 Edison Parkway in Fort Myers.

Southwest Florida Symphony General Information

The Southwest Florida Symphony is the only professional orchestra in Lee County and 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),

Erich Kunzel bio

Erich Kunzel was dubbed the “Prince of Pops” by the Chicago Tribune in 1977 and became one of the most successful Billboard Classical/Crossover recording artists in history. He was born in New York and raised in Connecticut. He attended Dartmouth College, where he decided on music as a career. He earned degrees at Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown. His professional conducting career began with the Santa Fe Opera in 1957. Kunzel attracted the attention of another renowned teacher of conductors, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra‘s music director Max Rudolf, who invited Kunzel to become a resident conductor with the orchestra. One of the duties of that position was to lead concerts in the “Eight O’Clock Pops” series. He debuted with the Cincinnati Symphony in October, 1965, leading one of the pops concerts and showed an immediate affinity for this kind of presentation. Arthur Fiedler, noting Kunzel’s work, invited him to guest conduct his Boston Pops Orchestra in 1970. He was invited back to the Boston Pops every year under Fiedler and his two successors John Williams and Keith Lockhart, and made over 85 appearances with the original Boston Pops orchestra and taken it on tour.

Kunzel made recordings with labels associated with the Vox record company while making the “Eight O’Clock Pops” even more of a favorite in Cincinnati. In 1977, the board of the orchestra decided to follow the organizational example of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and constitute a Cincinnati Pops Orchestra as a separate sub-organization using members of the main orchestra, and appointed Kunzel its conductor. Five years later he was also appointed pops conductor of the symphony orchestra in nearby Indianapolis in 1982. He went on to conduct over 200 pops concerts there and many more in Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota, Fort Myers and Naples, Florida. He held the records for attendance at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival and Cleveland’s Blossom Music Festival — over 22,000 in each venue.

In the 1980s, Telarc records, began recording in Cincinnati and included the Pops in its program. Beginning with the legendary Straussfest recording, they produced an unprecedented series of audio spectaculars including classical repertory, Broadway, popular song albums, and movie score compilations. Kunzel recorded 100 releases, including 70 on Telarc. Fifty of them have been on the Billboard charts. He has been the Billboard Top Classical/Crossover Artist of the year several times, including an unprecedented four years in a row. He was won the Grand Prix du Disque in Europe, the Award for Classical Album of the Year 1989 from the Japan Record Association, Sony’s Tiffany Walkman Award, and four Grammy nominations.

He often appeared on television, most prominently in Fourth of July and Memorial Day concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C., playing on the Mall in an annual PBS television broadcast. He has played in the Fourth of July series annually since 1990. The 1996 appearance was the largest PBS audience ever for a musical event and drew nearly a million people to hear the concert live.

Kunzel has taught on the faculties of Brown University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He conducted opera performances with the Cincinnati Opera and the Canadian Opera Company. He received numerous awards and recognition, including the 1994 Presidential Medal for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement from Dartmouth and the 1995 Salvation Army “Others” Award.

Immediately upon his death from cancer in 2009, Kunzel was named Founder and Conductor Emeritus by a unanimous vote of the Cincinnati Symphony’s board.

Jim Stephenson bio

Chicago area composer James Stephenson’s works have been performed by leading American orchestras and around the world, and have been hailed by critics as having “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds” and “Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!” (Boston Herald). His music incorporates a fresh and energizing sound scape that engages the audience while maintaining integrity and worthwhile challenges for the performing musicians. This rare combination has rewarded Stephenson with a host of ongoing commissions and projects.

Recent Stephenson premieres include two new violin concertos performed by the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vanska conducting, Jennifer Frautschi, violin) and the Rhode Island Philharmonic (Larry Rachleff with Alex Kerr). These works, along with his oboe concerto, were commissioned by the esteemed Minnesota Commissioning Club, and proved a wonderful boost to his early career as full-timer composer. His 2nd trumpet concerto has been performed on five continents since its premiere in Australia by Rex Richardson in 2010. His growing catalog now boasts concertos and sonatas for nearly every wind instrument, in addition to the violin and piano. Commissions for solo works have come from principal players in the the symphonies of Chicago, Boston, NY Phil, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestra, Washington DC (National), Oregon, Dallas, among others.

Stephenson is also active in the concert band world, with premieres occurring at major venues such as the 2010 Midwest Clinic, TMEA (Texas Music Educators) and the ABA (American Bandmasters Association) convention, the latter with the US “President’s Own” Marine Band. In the spring of 2014, his music will be premiered/performed at four consecutive CBDNA and ABA regional conferences.

His landmark educational work, Compose Yourself!, has now been performed over 250 times since its creation in 2002, and will see performances by five more orchestras this season as well. Also active as a highly sought-after arranger, Stephenson’s arrangements have been performed/recorded/broadcast by virtually every major orchestra in the country, including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, NY Pops and more. Recently having added conducting to his musical palette, Stephenson has already been engaged on several occasions with orchestras in Charleston, Modesto, Ft. Myers and Lake Forest, IL.

Before moving to Lake Forest as a full-time composer/conductor, Stephenson spent 17 seasons with the Naples (FL) Philharmonic as a trumpeter, a position he won immediately upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. When not writing music, he enjoys spending time with wife, Sally, and four children, or doing almost any sporting activity!

Stephenson is currently enjoying a position of Composer-in-Residence with the Lake Forest Symphony.

Zack Dobbins bio

Deemed by Grammy Nominated Songwriter Earl Wilson Jr. “Perhaps the most passionate singer of his generation”, Zack Dobbins is currently recording two albums and has been touring since spring of 2014. His tour continues through 2015.. A native of both the cornfields of Illinois and the beaches of Florida, Zack Dobbins is now happy to call both Fort Myers, FL and New York City ‘Home’.

Zack has traveled over the world as a conceptual artist as well as a singer and actor. He was the youngest adult cast member in the world premiere of Elton John’s Elaborate Lives, which ended up becoming AIDA. He covered and performed the lead role of ‘Radames”. He has also appeared in several lead roles across the world.
 Zack has sold out legendary venues such as Joe’s Pub, The Metropolitan Room, and many others in Manhattan, as well as The Berne Davis Art Center and the Foulds theater in Florida. He has developed and starred in concerts in almost every major city in the United States.

Zack continues to perform and study in Manhattan. He is rehearsing to star in a revival of FALSETTOLAND in late 2015.  His first two solo recording projects are currently underway for release later this year.  His first original single “Perry Street” is now available on iTunes.

Melissa Batallés bio

Melissa Batallés, an Argentine-American professionally trained Lyric Coloratura Soprano, has established her career performing opera, musical theater productions, and as a featured concert soloist around the United States and abroad. Some of her operatic and theatrical roles include Frasquita (Carmen), Mrs. Ford (The Merry Wives of Windsor), Laetitia (The Old Maid and The Thief), Soloist Nun and Ensemble (The Sound of Music) and recently as Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) with West Bay Opera in San Francisco for which she was recognized by Palo Alto – Online as “an athletic actress as well as a strong vocal partner”. Following her performance with West Bay Opera she was thrilled to collaborate with the Santa Barbara Symphony for their summer 2014 production of CAMELOT in Concert at the Granada Theatre under the direction of Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Ms. Batallés was a featured soloist in “When you believe: A Conversation With and Tribute To Stephen Schwartz”, a concert honoring Stephen Schwartz with the Melpomai Award. In 2013 she was flown to South Carolina to perform as Maria for a concert version of the WEST SIDE STORY with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Immediately following, she boarded Crystal Cruises on their “Serenity World Cruise” to perform as a soloist for the Annual Pops Concerts.

She is a three-time recipient of the Michael Masser ASCAP Scholarship, Audience Choice Award, and Kreshek “Best Vocalist” for McCallum Theatre Open Call Competition; Finalist in the Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition, winner of both the AEIOU and Professional Opera Singer’s Association competitions, and Finalist in the 2012 Meistersinger Competition in Austria where she performed with orchestra conducted by La Scala Opera conductor, Maestro Edoardo Müller.

Upcoming concerts in 2015 include: In January she returns for her second appearance as soloist for the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children’s foundation Gala. In February she performs her electric “Glitter and Be Gay” by Bernstein at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for the Diamond Jubilee Viennese Opera Ball in New York. The month of March takes her to Florida where she is set to perform as featured soloist for two concerts of “Pops II: A Tribute to Erich Kunzel”, alongside Zach Dobbins and the Southwest Florida Symphony conducted by Jim Stephenson. In addition to these concerts Melissa Batallés will continue her touring performances throughout the Southern California area with Jim Borax’s California Cabaret as well as her own Solo and Duet Concerts showcasing the best loved opera arias, Golden Era musical theater ballads, as well as jazz and swing standards of the 30s, 40s and 50s with her Trio and Quartet band.

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, 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, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Crowne Plaza, Shoeless Joe’s, Mastello Ristorante, 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, The Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, Mr. & Mrs. Mark and Christine Strom and Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Charlotte Qua


Event: Southwest Florida Symphony’s A Tribute to Erich Kunzel

Dates: Friday, March 13 & Saturday, March 14, 2015

Location: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

Time: 8:00PM

Tickets: from $22-$82

For tickets and more information, call the box office at 239-418-1500 or administrative office at 239-418-0996 or visit

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