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Michael Francis, music director, conducts the Florida Orchestra Sept. 24-26, kicking off the 2021-2022 season.

Kicking off a season of performances that will showcase a full schedule of epic symphonies and beloved concertos, the Florida Orchestra will present Beethoven’s Fifth — boasting the most famous four notes in music — as well as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons for opening weekend, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 24-26, as part of the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series. Michael Francis, TFO music director, will conduct.

Performances will be Friday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m., in Carol Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa; Saturday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m., at The Duke Energy Center for the Arts — Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg; and Sunday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

Tickets start at $18. For information and tickets, visit floridaorchestra.org or call 727-892-3337 and 800-662-7286.

“I cannot wait to give that first downbeat and hear The Florida Orchestra back in full power,” said Francis in a press release. He will be starting his seventh season with TFO. “I am prouder than ever to lead a symphony orchestra that builds community and, week after week, provides a sanctuary for you to listen to the world’s most inspiring music.”

Francis can’t think of a better selection to launch the 2021-2022 concert calendar.

“As we emerge from this crisis, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is really the only piece that could open the season, because it so perfectly embodies our journey from darkness to light,” he said. “This is a time of rejuvenation, and what better than Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to take us out of winter and into the new spring of life. I am so proud of how The Florida Orchestra has kept concerts going, because our Tampa Bay community has never needed live music more than now. Experiencing such extraordinary music together makes us stronger as we move forward with optimism and hope.”

Florida’s largest professional orchestra will begin its 54th season with health and safety measures in place as it expands to venues in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.

Health and safety for patrons, musicians, and staff continue to be top priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks that cover the nose and mouth will be required for all TFO patrons and staff in all venues, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, the Straz Center requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination to attend any performance at the venue. On stage, all TFO musicians, conductors, and guest artists, as well as backstage staff, will be fully vaccinated.

“Following CDC guidelines, we strongly encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for the safety of everyone. However, by working with the different requirements of our partner venues, we have options for patrons,” said Mark Cantrell, TFO president and chief executive officer. “Circumstances may very well change as the season progresses. A team of TFO board members, musicians and staff, in consultation with an epidemiologist, will continue to re-evaluate protocols as needed.”

Patrons unable or unwilling to meet requirements at the Straz Center can exchange their TFO tickets for another venue or a future concert within the 2021-2022 season without a fee. To do so, patrons can email the voided tickets to TFO ticket center at TicketCenter@FloridaOrchestra.org.

In addition to Beethoven’s Fifth and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series will be a season-long journey through monumental masterpieces such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Mozart’s Requiem and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. TFO’s 54th season will bring internationally renowned soloists to Tampa Bay stages — including classical guitar superstar Milos. Highlights of the Raymond James Pops series include the “Music of Star Wars,” “Holiday Pops” and “The Wild West,” which is in partnership with the James Museum. TFO amps up the power for the “Final Fantasy VII Remake” video game concert and the “Music of Elton John & Billy Joel” rock concert. Light symphonic Morning Coffee Concerts include the “Music of John Williams,” “Star-Crossed Lovers” and more. TFO also recently added three performances of Handel’s Messiah featuring the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay for the holidays.

“This season’s blockbuster lineup builds on the momentum of last season — thanks to our patrons and donors,” Cantrell said. “I want to thank each and every one of you who has stood by your orchestra and responded with outstanding support. You have made us a stronger orchestra to build a better Tampa Bay for all. You have made a huge difference.”

The orchestra’s popular pre-concert conversations with conductors and soloists will once again be live this season, starting one hour before Masterworks and Coffee performances in the concert hall. The program is included with each concert ticket. Masterworks pre-concert conversations are sponsored by Smith & Associates Real Estate.