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Q&A with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra

Title: Q&A with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Image: Orchestra performing in Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. P. Phillips Center for Performing Arts

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the many great cultural institutions that are part of Local Wanderer, Orange County Library System’s culture pass program which provides free access to library card holders across the county. We wanted to get to know them better, so we sat down with Executive Director Karina Bharne to talk about the Philharmonic’s history, educational resources and upcoming performances.

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 1993 and has become a staple of the performing arts in Central Florida. Could you tell us a little about the history of the Philharmonic?

The Orlando Philharmonic has a rich history in the Central Florida community. The OPO was founded by community leaders and musicians who were inspired to promote symphonic music through excellence in performance, education and cultural leadership. The Philharmonic has previously performed at notable venues such as the Bob Carr Theater and Exploria Stadium, and is currently a resident company of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts as well as The Plaza Live, a historic Central Florida venue.

The Philharmonic is now celebrating its 31st season, led by Music Director Eric Jacobsen, and is comprised of creative musicians based in Central Florida. You can also find the Orlando Philharmonic collaborating with fellow resident arts organizations in Central Florida, such as Opera Orlando, Orlando Ballet and many more!

Every year, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents more than 170 live concerts that reach more than 70,000 children and families, many of which are available through Local Wanderer. What kinds of events and performances does the Philharmonic offer throughout the year?

We annually present the 10-concert Classics Series and Pops Series in the beautiful Steinmetz Hall, as well as a Focus Series and Symphony Storytime Series. The Philharmonic presents its live concerts for children, youth and families annually through its innovative Young People’s Concerts, Symphony Storytime Series, Notes in Your Neighborhood program and free outdoor community concerts. The Classics Series brings grand masterworks from both classical and contemporary composers to the stage, while the Pops Series delivers fresh and exciting visual performances from aerial artists to a cinematic concert experience. The Focus Series, Resonate Festival and Summer Serenades Series concerts offer more intimate chamber-style performances that feed the mind and soul.

The Philharmonic offers several programs that provide music education and performance opportunities for young people. How can our readers get involved?

There are many ways to get involved, and we are grateful for your interest! We encourage readers to take advantage of Local Wanderer passes to attend the Philharmonic’s Classics Series, Pops Series, Symphony Storytime Series and Young People’s Concerts. We would love to see you in the audience this season. To support our orchestra through other means, The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is the volunteer organization for the OPO, and offers several educational presentations each season, each focused on upcoming concerts. Visit The Friends website, friendsorlandophil.org, for more information on what they offer and how to join.

What makes access to live music so important?

The Orlando community is lucky. We have some of the most talented musicians living right here in Central Florida. Our musicians invest and give back to this community in so many ways. Access to live music is critical because it not only helps build community and but also helps community bridging.

I’m excited to see how the OPO can further build community through music in the coming years through our performance series. The opportunities are endless!

You were chosen as the executive director of Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2023 and are new to the Orlando area. What are you most excited about?

In the past few weeks, I have explored Orlando and met many members of this incredible community! I am most excited about having my family enjoy the rich arts and culture scene that Orlando has to offer.

In addition, I have loved following many accounts on Instagram for great food recommendations. We are especially looking forward to trying out Neapolitan pizza places and Indian restaurants!

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