Billed as “a volunteer orchestra with a professional sound,” the Tampa Bay Symphony jumps aboard the Bard-wagon tonight and Sunday with “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” a program of works inspired by you-know-who. The concert is part of the new St. Petersburg Celebration of the Arts, which in its inaugural season is celebrating all things Shakespeare.
The Symphony’s music choices are intriguing. Two of the selections have obvious connections to the Shakespearean theme: Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and McDowell’s Hamlet and Ophelia. The others are linked more generally to Britain: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s beloved Lark Ascending, inspired by a poem by Victorian-era British poet George Meredith, and contemporary composer Ben Goldberg’s Declaration, which seems to be about the U.S. declaring its freedom from said Brits (shades of Hamilton).
TBS concertmaster Jeffrey Smick solos on violin in Lark. The conductor is multi-tasking Maestro Mark Sforzini, who’s not only music director of the Symphony, he’s artistic and executive director of St. Petersburg Opera (where he just finished conducting another Shakespeare-inspired show, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate). 2/19, 8 p.m., The Palladium, St. Petersburg; 2/24, 2:30 p.m., Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center.