Musical America article by John Fleming. 14 January 2022.
"Steinmetz Hall has been a long time coming. First proposed in the 1990s, the development of a first-class venue for classical music, opera, and dance in downtown Orlando had to overcome many delays, detours, and doubts through the years, but now it’s finally happening. Steinmetz Hall opens today as part of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with a community open house and celebration that includes a weeklong residency by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is on a US tour. In the past two weeks, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra canceled their Florida tours because of the pandemic, but the RPO is carrying on and will be in Orlando next week."
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"The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will play six programs at Steinmetz Hall Jan. 19-26, but only two have repertoire for which the venue was designed: Tchaikovsky ballet music with dancers from the Royal Ballet; and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Orlando’s Bach Festival Choir. Otherwise, the orchestra will back up pop and country stars Jennifer Hudson, Leon Bridges, and Lyle Lovett; and Broadway stars such as Audra McDonald with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Bethune-Cookman University Concert Chorale in Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige.
The pop-heavy programming was selected to attract a diverse audience, said Ramsberger. “The center’s mission statement is ‘Arts for Every Life.’ Classical music has a role in that, but we thought it would be interesting to mix R&B, country, Broadway, and jazz artists with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Our goal is to have audiences fall in love with classical music and not be afraid of it because they’ve never had a chance to experience it.”
All photos: Josh Cirtina, RPO Principal Bass Trombone