This season marks a milestone for Symphony of the Americas and maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese in more ways than one. Not only has the symphony been a vibrant part of the community for 30 years, but it continues to make classical music accessible and inspiring at a time when similar cultural entities around the country struggle.
“Isn’t it wonderful that we, as a symphony orchestra, have been in the community for 30 years?” asks executive director Renée LaBonte. “The fact that we are still here and [still] producing as a nonprofit organization—and that we have been able to survive—is worth celebrating.”
As seen in its 2017-18 programming, Symphony of the Americas is doing more than just surviving. The season began with a performance by pianist Thomas Tirino, honoring Italian and Hispanic Heritage Month in October, and continues early this month with a holiday concert featuring Florida Singing Sons and the Girl Choir of South Florida.
Concerts in 2018, all at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, include the orchestra paired with traditional jazz (Jan. 9), a collaboration with Broadway and opera singers (Feb. 20) and guest appearances by soloists of the Houston Ballet (March 13). The season finale will feature Conrad Tao, an accomplished pianist, composer and violinist, performing his own composition with the symphony (April 10).
“Our approach to the audiences and the community is youthful,” Brooks-Bruzzese says. “Keeping everyone young in spirit is our goal; [we do that through] inspiring classics, new works that expand your horizons—and encores that send you out of the theater with a song in your heart.”
Engaging younger audiences remains a high priority for LaBonte and her team, especially since music education is no longer part of today’s standard school curriculum. “We have to create things that will be interesting [enough] to draw them into the concert hall,” LaBonte says.
In addition to concert programming, the symphony has done that through a variety of well-received creative and family-oriented events—matinees tailored to children, “petting zoos” during which kids may touch and feel instruments, and wine tastings for young professionals.
As one of Broward County’s designated major cultural institutions, the symphony promises many more curtain calls for the community.