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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 1 year ago

Central Florida Community Arts Symphony Orchestra set for 20th concert “Our Greatest Hits”

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The performance will showcase a collection of songs from the orchestra's previous 19 concerts.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

A 160-piece orchestra? Check. A repertoire of songs spanning Queen and Led Zeppelin to movie soundtracks and classical compositions? Check. Two nights of performances where it all comes together? Double check.

The Central Florida Community Arts Symphony Orchestra will look back over its history with a special concert on Oct. 26 and 27 at Calvary Assembly Orlando in Winter Park. “Our Greatest Hits” marks the 20th concert put on by the orchestra and will feature the most well-received songs from all of the previous performances. 

It’s a special milestone for the group of talented community musicians — and music director and conductor Justin Muchoney said he wanted to go all out for this concert.

“We’ve been together for about seven years, and in that time, we’ve produced 20 unique, immersive orchestral experiences,” Muchoney said. “We really try to stretch people’s understandings of what live symphonic music can be.

“We wanted to celebrate that in this short time together in the last six or seven years, we’ve grown from 11 people that attended our very first rehearsal to 160,” he said. “We’ve been able to blossom into something pretty exciting in the musical community of Orlando. We felt like 20 was a good number to celebrate. This concert is that celebration.”

The concert will highlight the best songs — the “greatest hits” — performed by the orchestra throughout the past 19 concerts. The audience can expect to hear classics from The Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Michael Jackson and other popular music artists, as well as music from Disney fireworks shows and movie soundtracks to “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.”

There also will be some familiar classical pieces such as Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” and Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

The audience can expect not only a broad range of music at the concert but also a laid-back, fun atmosphere.

“It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be big, it’s going to be loud, and it’s going to be very familiar and comfortable,” Muchoney said. “This is not the kind of orchestra concert where you’re going to be unsure of what the unspoken rules are. You’re going to come in, clap, laugh and have a really good time.”

Muchoney said part of what makes the CFCArts Symphony Orchestra special is how it was founded on the idea of bringing people together from all walks of life to play music. Anyone is welcome to join. There are no auditions, and nobody is ever turned away, he said.

“We are the truest definition I can find of a community orchestra,” Muchoney said. “We are a really fascinating representation of Central Florida. We’ve got about 160 members of all sorts of ages, backgrounds, experience levels, careers and professions. It’s a really diverse, unique and kind of fascinating collection of people that define our communities.”

That open-arm approach has led to the orchestra growing up to 160 members, making it the largest community orchestra in the state, Muchoney said. The orchestra requires the entire basketball court at Calvary Assembly Orlando just to rehearse.

“When you go to see a professional orchestra, you’re probably getting 70 (members) or less,” Muchoney said. “There is a raw power, there is an energy, a visceral live excitement that comes with having 160 musicians. It’s a powerful experience. It may not be as clean or precise as going to hear a small ensemble, where they can zero in on each individual, but we make up for that with more passion than you’ve probably ever experienced in a live concert like this.”

One thing is for sure: Whether orchestral music is new to you or you’ve seen your share of performances, you’ve never seen anything quite like this, Muchoney said.

“When you hear this orchestra tear into ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen or finish the concert off with the most rousing rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ from The Beatles, I believe you might feel differently about what a symphony orchestra can be,” he said.

Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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