Sounds of the Season

The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is putting on incredible musical experiences in 2022

Between world-class guests artists and a packed calendar of events, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is heading into 2022 with plans for performances that can’t be found anywhere else. Music Director Peter Rubardt talks about what’s coming up and the dates that should be circled on everyone’s calendar this season.

Q: What is the first big concert of 2022?

A: It’s actually a New Years’ Eve performance on December 31. To ring in the new year each year, we’ve been doing this concert, and it’s always great fun. This year we are celebrating the timeless music of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and we have two guest soloists coming in: trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling and Grammy nominee Carmen Bradford. And with it being at 7:00 pm, it makes the performance easy to attend and then go on afterward to dinner or parties.

Q: Any other big annual events patrons can expect this season?

A: On January 15 we will host another big annual event, Beethoven & Blue Jeans. We’ve been hosting this event for about 15 years or so, and it’s always an evening of fun and surprise. Everyone wears blue jeans for the night, and the program is wide-ranging. The evening is anchored by Beethoven’s First Symphony, and there will be some popular and well-known pieces and some more experimental. This has been one of our most popular concerts each season, and this year we’re excited about bringing a literary element to it. Poets Jamey Jones and Charles McCaskill will read their poems aloud over some musical pieces we’ll be playing. Magical things can happen when you combine different art forms. These poems will interact with music to create something very special.

Q: Special performances continue well into February and March—the calendar seems quite packed with scheduled programs.

A: February 12 we’ll have a marvelous concert, Come Fly with Me: Music of Sinatra & More. It includes two guest artists Gunhild Carling, a Swedish jazz musician who has explosive creative energy on stage, and vocalist Michael Andrew. On February 19 the soaring stained-glass windows of First United Methodist’s sanctuary provides a beautiful setting for our annual celebration of Mozart with his Clarinet Concerto and “Linz” Symphony. Then on March 5, we’ll have the Russian Spectacular, another annual concert. There’s something about Russian music that is so exciting with its wide-ranging emotion. We’ll be welcoming pianist Sara Davis Buechner for one piece during the program.

Q: Any other must-see performances this spring?

A: We finish out March focusing on American Classics, which will be March 26. We’ll be playing some standard classical pieces by American composers, but we’ll also have some other lesser-known pieces, such as Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony, the first symphony written and published by a female American composer.