Then & Now 6/29: Florida Orchestra

Joan Tower

On this date in 1985, Joan Tower’s "Island Rhythms" had its premiere right here in Tampa!  It was commissioned for the opening of Harbour Island.  The performance was with the Florida Orchestra, Irwin Hoffman, conducting.

Wow, Irwin Hoffman, there’s a name I haven’t heard for a while.  He was the first music director of what’s now known as the Florida Orchestra.  The orchestra got its start when representatives from both the Tampa Philharmonic and the St. Petersburg Symphony traveled by boat to the center of Tampa Bay, where they married the two institutions in a symbolic union and became the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony.  The merger became official two years later, and the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony opened its first season on November 14, 1968, under the baton of the then 43-year-old Music Director Irwin Hoffman.  The orchestra continued to perform as the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony until its name was changed to The Florida Orchestra in 1984.  Irwin Hoffman remained conductor until 1987, and during the 1988/89 season, Jahja Ling made his debut as music director to tremendous critical acclaim. In May of 2002, Stefan Sanderling was appointed music director, and in June 2014, The Florida Orchestra announced Michael Francis as its newest music director.  It’s going to be an exciting year when the Florida Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season kicks off later this fall.  Check out the details online at

Air Date: 
Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 8:00am