In the first week of October, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra made a triumphant return to Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for our annual residency and the beginning of a promising relationship with the communities of Orlando. Partly funded by the American Friends of the RPO, the Residency Festival saw the Orchestra perform six nights in a row in the spectacular Steinmetz Hall; they were joined by a remarkable lineup of guest performers, including Birmingham Royal Ballet, Beck, Harry Connick Jr., Diana Ross, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sutton Foster, and The Bach Festival Choir. During the daytime, our Resound team ran STROKESTRA® workshops and interactive sessions for adults with autism and students from local schools.
Read on to see some snapshots from the RPO's week in Florida.
All professional photos © Preston Mack
Tuesday 3 October: Birmingham Royal Ballet
Day 1: The residency opens with a bang!
Joined by Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Orchestra performed a varied programme of contemporary dance repertoire and classic ballet pieces, including Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. With no props or scenery, just the Orchestra behind them, the skill and beauty of the Birmingham Royal Ballet's dancers truly shone.
Wednesday 4 October: Beck
Day 2: Eight-time Grammy award winner and indie gem Beck makes his debut with the RPO in a one-of-a-kind performance.
Joined by Roger Manning and Jason Falkner, former members of Jellyfish, Beck graced the stage with a captivating performance that combined unique interpretations of his beloved hits with lesser-known tracks, making for an intimate yet extraordinary concert experience.
Thursday 5 October: Harry Connick Jr.
Day 3: The multi-talented, musical virtuoso Harry Connick Jr. charms the crowd with his star power.
Joined by his exceptional band and our magnificent RPO players, Harry Connick Jr. delivered a mesmerising night of genre-blending tunes – a testament to the rich diversity of music and a great demonstration of the power of collaboration, as well as the RPO's adaptability.
Friday 6 October: Diana Ross
Day 4: A Legacy Evening with the Queen of Motown, Diana Ross.
World-famous superstar and living legend Diana Ross commanded the hall, her velvety vocals and glamourous gowns centre stage. Accompanied by our celestial strings, the music icon presented a medley of her renowned hits, delivering a marvellous performance that left no room for disappointment and politely reminded us why she is the most successful recording artist and entertainer of all time.
Saturday 7 October: Brian Stokes Mitchell and Sutton Foster
Day 5: Broadway royalty Brian Stokes Mitchell and Sutton Foster lit up Steinmetz Hall in a musical theatre extravaganza.
The two powerhouses really did bring the house down in a showstopping performance that featured an unexpected (but delightful) mix of lesser-known Broadway tunes and left the audience in awe.
Sunday 8 October: The Bach Festival Choir
Day 6: The Bach Festival Choir closes the Residency Festival with a performance fit for a king.
Renowned as the pinnacle of oratorio singing in the South, the choir has solidified its reputation of excellence, performing an incredible programme of choral favourites and two pieces, which were also performed at the coronation of HRH King Charles III, the RPO's patron.
Matthew J.Palm wrote in the Orlando Sentinel: '“God save the king!” rang out through the hall as the singers and players found their fortissimo in a reading of Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” that can only be described as majestic. Then a swift change of mood for a coronation Agnus Dei by Tarik O’Regan that Outwater described as “serene,” but I would go even further and say “ethereal"'.
Fantastic performances by the Royal Philharmonic and the Bach Festival Choir pic.twitter.com/uAeafjmi16— BP (@benplk1) October 9, 2023
Resound reaches Orlando
On the Resound side of things, over the course of the week, the Orchestra held interactive sessions at five local schools, conducted workshops for adults with autism at the OCA, and collaborated with the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, who delivered an impressive pre-concert performance on 6 October.
We also partnered with the Dr. Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts and AdventHealth to bring STROKESTRA®, a rehabilitation programme utilising creative music-making as part of a formal clinical recovery program, to Orlando. Musicians, clinicians, patients and stroke survivors joined forces to discuss and develop new ideas and activities to complement treatment delivery. Participants then participated in a touching musical performance in front of friends and family.
Photo © Sali-Wyn Ryan
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had a wonderful time in Orlando, and we sincerely thank the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the American Friends of the RPO for affording us the opportunity to continue fulfilling our mission to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in their excellence and inclusive in their appeal. At the RPO, we believe our role extends far beyond the confinements of a stage; our objective is to create a significant impact, stepping off the concert platform and into the community, fostering meaningful relationships with audiences from around the world.