Event: The Beach Boys perform with Symphony at Metro Park
Venue: Metropolitan Park
Date: May 16, Gates open at 6pm, Concert begins at 8:15pm
Tickets: Prices start at $29 advance for lawn seating ($9 for children, lawn seating)
Contact: www.jaxsymphony.org or (904) 354-5547
The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is aiming for the stars with new leadership, an exciting spring program, and a long term goal to widen their audience appeal outside the concert hall. The Starry Nights program featuring the Beach Boys with the symphony orchestra May 16th at Metropolitan Park is sure to expose the symphony to a diverse crowd.
Just three months into his new appointment, Symphony president Robert Massey is already rolling up his sleeves. So far, he says his position at the helm of the JSO is incredible. “This is a wonderful time for the symphony. We’re excited about Courtney Lewis coming, wrapping up the current season, and we have an exciting spring planned,” he says.
“Next season marks Courtney Lewis’ inaugural season as music director, and inside the symphony there is just a lot of excitement.”
Massey says he met Lewis during his interview process, and the two immediately hit it off. “We had a very, very shared interest of what the symphony can be, and we’ve just sort of taken it from there. That chemistry is paramount to the future success of the symphony,” he says. “We have kind of the very high level, cocktail napkin sketches of big, important things to us, which is really to focus on the creation of dynamic and impactful art and a very diverse group of offerings of that art, whether it’s symphonic music or popular music or chamber music or what we play within that spectrum.”
This is a pivotal time for the symphony with both Massey and Lewis coming aboard at the same time. Massey hopes the addition of new blood will breathe new life into the symphonic program. “It works really well. You imagine an institution as old as a symphony orchestra, and it gets really kind of imbedded in this certain culture and certain ways. You can get into a cycle of ‘this is just what we do and how we do it’,” Massey says. “When you have new leadership, you come in with a fresh perspective and you’re able to say, ‘well, what if we did this and this?’ And when you have both of the institution’s leaders coming in, it’s a great opportunity to say, ‘what do we really think the Jacksonville Symphony can be and where do we want to see us go?’”
Finding different ways to get more people into Jacoby Symphony Hall could mean options for performance times or different formats, including the Symphony in 60 program launching next year. The new program will offer 60-minute concerts held at 6pm on Thursdays. The idea is that people working in the downtown area can grab a drink or a bite to eat, catch an hour of top quality symphonic programming, meet with Lewis and the musicians after the concert, and be home by 8pm.
“We are looking at getting new people and more people into the hall and for those people who can’t come to us, we are looking at how to come to them. What is the relationship we have with our community. What does it mean to be the symphony orchestra of Jacksonville? What does Jacksonville need in a symphony, and how can we be really responsive to such a vibrant, dynamic and diverse community?”
Massey is looking forward to tearing down walls and bringing the symphony orchestra outside to a new fanbase. One way to accomplish that goal is through such programs as Starry Nights, which pairs popular artists such as The Beach Boys— with lead singer Mike Love and keyboardist Bruce Johnson— with orchestral backing.
“Starry Nights is at the core of this kind of audience development. We find the crossover popular artist who will appeal to a broad audience, and we take the symphony out of the concert hall and outdoors where people want to be in May. How do we get 4,000 to 5,000 people in front of the orchestra at one time?” he says. “We will do a symphonic concert in Jacoby Hall and there will be 1,000 people in attendance. What normally takes two and a half weeks of concerts, we will hit with one concert.” Massey says the team works hard to maintain the popularity of the Starry Nights programming to appeal to the present symphony patrons as well as potential patrons. “The Beach Boys is a perfect, perfect partnership,” he says. “Such an iconic American sound, something we’ve all grown up knowing and loving. We would want to hear them anyway, but being able to hear them with the Jacksonville Symphony as their back up band outdoors at Metro Park with a picnic and friends and family couldn’t be more perfect.”
Massey says the artist selection process identifies those artists with symphony charts that complement the artistry of the symphony while reaching a mainstream fanbase. The Beach Boys checked all the boxes required for an entertaining, dynamic concert event.
“We are open and innovative, We are willing to go outside of the box and find something completely different. Of course, we find a partner that’s a really strong collaboration between their music and our music. Who is the artist that can really drive the people out of the symphony hall to Metro Park and still fall within our production parameters?” he says.
“It’s a very competitive field. To be able to bring artists of this level to Jacksonville is an incredible resource for the community. It’s tough and we worked on the Beach Boys for a long time to make that happen. We have a passionate and incredible staff and they really worked in concert to secure this. We’re excited to welcome them to our stage and I hope people have an incredible experience and have a great time.” For more information about this event and other offerings from the symphony, head to www.jaxsymphony.org